Brown in 2009
27 February 1971 |
Purley, Croydon, London, United Kingdom
|Other names||Darren V. Brown|
|Occupation||Illusionist, mentalist, hypnotist, painter, writer, sceptic|
|Partner(s)||Mark – (2007–present)|
Derren Brown (born 27 February 1971) is a British illusionist, mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, painter, writer, and sceptic. He is known for his appearances in television specials, stage productions, and British television series such as Trick of the Mind and Trick or Treat. Since the first broadcast of his show Derren Brown: Mind Control in 2000, Brown has become increasingly well known for his mind-reading act. He has written books for magicians as well as the general public.
Though his performances of mind-reading and other feats of mentalism may appear to be the result of psychic or paranormal practices, he claims no such abilities and frequently denounces those who do. Brown states at the beginning of his Trick of the Mind programmes that he achieves his results using a combination of "magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship".
Personal life 
Brown was born to Bob and Chris Brown in Purley, Croydon, London, England. He has a brother, who is nine years his junior. Brown was privately educated at Whitgift School in South Croydon (where his father coached swimming), and studied Law and German at the University of Bristol. While there, he attended a hypnotist show by Martin S Taylor, which inspired him to turn to illusion and hypnosis as a career. Whilst an undergraduate, he started working as a conjuror, performing the traditional skills of close-up magic in bars and restaurants. In 1992, he started performing stage shows at the University of Bristol under the stage name Darren V. Brown.
Brown was an Evangelical Christian in his teens, and became an atheist in his twenties. This is discussed by Brown in the "Messiah" special, and in his book Tricks of the Mind. An interview as part of Richard Dawkins' two-part documentary series The Enemies of Reason, where Brown explained various psychological techniques used by purported psychics and spiritual mediums to manipulate their audiences, Brown also said he sought to strengthen his belief and provide answers to common criticisms of religion by reading the Bible and other Christian religious texts, but upon doing so found none of the answers he sought and came to the conclusion that his belief (in Christianity) had no basis.
The Big Issue website described Brown as being "playfully mendacious". Although it has been said that Brown is banned from every casino in Britain, other sources report that casinos welcome the publicity from his visits.
In an interview with the Independent in 2007 Brown stated that he is gay. In an interview with the Radio Times in 2011 Brown talked more about his sexuality, stating that he is blissfully happy in a relationship. He said, "I spent a lot of time thinking about me and working on what I wanted to be before I came into a relationship. In some ways, it’s bad because you come into relationship quite late without a lot of experience and you have a lot to learn. But that can also be exciting. Certainly, it’s lovely to have somebody love you and it’s lovely to love someone else."
Since 2004 Brown has been the patron of the registered charity the Parrot Zoo Trust at Friskney in eastern Lincolnshire near Boston, England. In an interview with LeftLion magazine he said "I’m a big fan of parrots – I think they’re fascinating creatures. Many of them live for longer than us humans and it's interesting to me the way they learn to mimic human voices even though they don't really comprehend what they're saying."
Brown heavily relies on misdirection for his tricks, helped by the audience viewing him as having deep psychological insights. He relies on a wide array of techniques to prevent audiences from deducing the techniques he has used.
In a Daily Telegraph article published in 2003 Simon Singh criticised Brown's early TV appearances, arguing that he presented standard magic and mentalism effects—such as the classic Ten Card Poker Deal trick—as genuine psychological manipulation. On Brown's television and live shows he often appears to show the audience how a particular effect was created—claiming to use techniques such as subliminal suggestion, hypnosis, and body language reading. Singh's suggestion is that these explanations are dishonest. Furthermore, Singh took exception to the programme's website being categorised under Channel 4's "Science" section. The mini-site was moved to Entertainment for later series.
In an October 2010 interview, Brown conceded that Singh may have had a point, explaining that at the start of his television career "I was overstating the case, overstating my skills. I thought there'll only be one show, there'll never be a repeat, so I might as well go for it." In his book Tricks of the Mind, Brown writes,
"I am often dishonest in my techniques, but always honest about my dishonesty. As I say in each show, 'I mix magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship'. I happily admit cheating, as it's all part of the game. I hope some of the fun for the viewer comes from not knowing what's real and what isn't. I am an entertainer first and foremost, and I am careful not to cross any moral line that would take me into manipulating people's real-life decisions or belief systems."
Brown claims to never use actors or "stooges" in his work without informing the viewers. In Tricks of the Mind, Brown writes that to use such a ploy is "artistically repugnant and simply unnecessary"; furthermore, he "would not want any participant to watch the TV show when it airs and see a different or radically re-edited version of what he understood to have happened".
Suggested methods 
Brown claims to use a variety of methods to achieve his illusions including traditional magic/conjuring techniques, memory techniques, hypnosis, body language reading, cognitive psychology, cold reading and psychological, subliminal (specifically the use of PWA – "perception without awareness") and ideomotor suggestion.
In an interview published in New Scientist, Brown says that he first developed many of his "psychological illusion" skills through his training in hypnotherapy before he was involved in learning close-up magic. When asked how he was able to produce various psychological illusions such as apparent mind-reading, lie detection and hypnotic induction, Brown claimed to be able to read on subtle cues such as a micro-muscle movements that indicate to him if someone is lying or holding something back. He also states that his participants are carefully selected based on their suggestibility and responsiveness which is common in stage hypnosis. He believes that the presence of a television camera also increases responsiveness.
Several authors have claimed that Brown uses neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) in his act which "consists of a range of magical 'tricks', misdirection and, most intriguing, setting up audiences to provide the response that he wishes them to provide by using subtle subliminal cues in his conversation with them." In response to the accusation that he unfairly claims to be using NLP whenever he performs, Brown writes "The truth is I have never mentioned it outside of my book". Brown does have an off-stage curiosity about the system, and discusses it in the larger context of hypnotism and suggestion. In his book Tricks of the Mind, Brown mentions that he attended an NLP course with Richard Bandler, co-creator of NLP and mentor of Paul McKenna, but suggests that the rigid systems of body language interpretation employed by NLP are not as reliable as its practitioners imply. He also describes the NLP concept of eye accessing cues as a technique of "limited use" in his book Pure Effect. The language patterns which he uses to suggest behaviours are very similar in style to those used by Richard Bandler and by the hypnotist from whom Bandler learned his skill, Milton H. Erickson. Brown also mentions in Tricks of the Mind that NLP students were given a certificate after a four-day course, certifying them to practice NLP as a therapist. A year after Brown attended the class, he received a number of letters saying that he would receive another certificate, not for passing a test (as he discontinued practising NLP following the course), but for keeping in touch. After ignoring their request, he later received the new certificate for NLP in his mailbox, unsolicited.
See also 
- "5 Things you might not know about Derren Brown". derrenbrown.co.uk. Derren Brown. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- 10 things you need to know about the magician Daily Mirror. Retrieved 25 March 2012
- Derren Brown: Behind the Mischief, Channel 4
- David Jenkins (9 June 2009). "Derren Brown interview". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- "Derren Brown Interviews". Loaded Magazine. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- "Bristol Uni Alumni". 5 January 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2008
- Fleckney, Paul (18 February 2008). "Be careful what you think — it's Derren Brown". Your Local Guardian. Retrieved 11 March 2008.[dead link]
- Brown, Derren (2006). Tricks of the Mind. London: Channel 4. ISBN 978-1-905026-26-5
- 'The Enemies of Reason', Channel 4
- "Derren Brown Interview — Richard Dawkins". Youtube.com. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- The Big Issue in Scotland – Features – Derren Brown
- Wells, Dominic (26 January 2008). "The Derren Brown factor". The Times (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Pryor, Fiona (24 June 2008). "Inside the mind of Derren Brown". BBC News.
- Wilson, Jared (1 April 2012). "He's Not The Messiah, He's a Very Naughty Boy". LeftLion. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- Hill, Annette (2010). Paranormal media : audiences, spirits, and magic in popular culture (1. publ. ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 142–149. ISBN 0415544629.
- Singh, Simon (10 June 2003). "I'll bet £1,000 that Derren can't read my mind". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 12 March 2008
- Aitkenhead, Decca (17 October 2010). "Derren Brown: 'I'm being honest about my dishonesty'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 10 January 2012
- Clare Wilson. "The great pretender." New Scientist. London: 30 July – 5 August 2005. Vol. 187, Iss. 2510; p. 36, 2 pages
- John Ozimek. Journal of Database Marketing & Customer Strategy Management. London: Apr 2007. Vol. 14, Iss. 3; p. 161, 3 pages
- "Does NLP work? Is it the basis of Derren Brown's "mind control" act?". The Straight Dope. 20 November 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2008
- Brown, Derren (2000). Pure Effect. p. 108
- Derren Brown, Tricks of the Mind, Transworld Publishers, 2006, ISBN 978-1-905026-38-8 Specifically Part Four: Hypnosis and Suggestibility, Section Neuro Linguistic Programming, Sub section, The eyes have it (some of the time)
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