Last night the psychological illusionist Derren Brown on his TV show, ‘Trick of the Mind’, shocked his audience with a video game stunt. He took an apparently unsuspecting member of the public and subjected him to what appeared to be a gruelling psychological experience, without gaining his permission in advance.
Derren Brown’s shows have certainly courted significant controversy. He played Russian Roulette live on TV (above), although reputedly with blank ammunition. This was gripping TV but many claimed the stunt was irresponsible. More recently he held a live seance in which he scared a number of willing volunteers half to death but all in the name of debunking supernatural beliefs.
What sets the trick from last night’s show apart was that no attempt was made to get the permission of the participant beforehand. While Derren Brown often uses unsuspecting members of the public, he doesn’t normally subject them to a difficult psychological experience.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
How Derren Brown does some of his tricks (Channel 4)