Magic & Mental Health

Dec 18, 2007
Northampton, MA - USA
Magic & Mental Health

Many years ago I had a conversation with a noted Beverly Hills Psychologist who was interested in the psychological dynamics behind magic and magicians; why we do the things we do and what the patterns were; his findings being quite curious, but then elements of his study were likewise predictable when it came to the realization that most of us are classic geeks that can tell you far more about Star Wars and the science behind the Star Trek universe than we can tell you about certain social and political issues of the day. We tend to be a hint OCD when it comes to the areas of magic that we are attracted to and too, our egos inform us that our personal vision is the one and only solution -- the "answer" as to what it wrong or right about Magic as an art -- we are the masterful artist and no one can improve upon our creation. . . so what that we suck big time and everyone is laughing behind our back. In other words, many of us are akin to a spoilt child and loathe taking direction or understanding how to not place the horse ahead of the proverbial cart. Few of us being willing to recognize our limitiations which frequently leads us to take off bites we're ill prepared to do.

What's this got to do with Mental Health? You ask.

The act of getting back on that old bronking pony that tossed you off its back is what. . .

How many of us are willing to get back up and ride this roller-coaster called "Show Biz" knowing that we will be knocked about every which way but worse, knowing that there can be a high price for any semblance of success we come to know?

I could list dozens if not hundreds of major Headline Talent from throughout the entertainment trades that suffer from acute mental impairments and yet, they manage to get the work done, when they are working with others that are understanding and supportive; this isn't always the case and too, said talent must take the right steps so as to earn that support.

This past Saturday (prior to Halloween) I was invited to come to a party and do some Mind Reading, it would be the first time in 4 years that I'd do an actual show, so it was a bit step. . . let me explain;

Four years ago I attempted to do a traditional Mind Reading program, which is something I cannot physically pull off -- a fact that I was reminded of on that particular night; my MS causing me to endure horrid back spasming and cramping that ultimately lead to me having to stop the show 20 minutes into things.

Fast Forward to the past weekend and finding myself in a very large home (mansion) with close to 200 guests -- total strangers.

To put it kindly, I flipped out -- I was overwhelmed.


It goes back to the issue of Mental Health and how, when I first started getting "ill" I had an emotional snap through which I developed Agorahobia -- the fear of being in social situtation and away from a personal safe place. When I went out in public I had to have a companion with me; someone I trusted that I could anchor to and know I was ok.

Chuckle all you wish, this is a terrifying condition, one that I've managed to come a long way in dealing with, which is why I accepted the offer to do this particular show; I felt that I was ready.

I'll not bore you with all the particulars but it's been over a week and I'm still in muscular pain because of how hard my body contracted that night.

I'm sharing this for a few reasons, the biggest being to show others that suffer from this or other mental health issues, that we do need to push ourselves even when there is a chance of having "a moment" such as I know. The other side of that coin is to help non-sufferers to open their eyes as to just how debilitating certain mental illnesses can be -- my PTSD was amplified by the Agoriphobic trigger and in under 15 minutes I found myself totally frozen. It was not "fear" in the sense of performance fright, but more a loss of identity and the subconscious layer of panic that sets in.

There is an up-side to my experience; how the hosts of this event empathized with me and invited me to come to their store on special event days and perform for patrons there; in a familiar environment that wouldn't be as chaotic and overwhelming -- an attitude of understanding that's quite rare in today's world, and from a client no less.

I've been a advocate for persons with various medical challenges over the years because of my own challenges but this is the first time I've spoken up about Mental & Emotional Health issues and just how dangerous they can be. But too, I hope to reveal how, with a bit of grace from our fellows, we can move forward to conquer such demons (allowing them to defeat us is stupid, but they must be challenged, daily). The third reason I posted this story is to help that newbie with the jitters, to realize that there are others that deal with a far more severe form of the same and if they but take a deep breath and listen to their cheerleaders, all will be well and you can "make it". Surround yourself with positive thinking, supportive people and KNOW that in time, you will be able to win.

We can all win!


theory11 moderator
Wow, I can't imagine how difficult it is to live with such a condition, it's fantastic to hear that you're keeping your head up and trying to overcome your issues. I wish you the best of luck in your journey and look forward to hearing your progress and when you nail a full show in the future, I've no doubt that the feeling of achievement will be much greater! :)
Aug 30, 2012
You sir are truly and inspiration. You deal with so much and still give it everything you have to perform is astounding. We all should think about the fact that things could always be worse, and if we just keep going it will get better. I want to say thank you Craig, I feel you have given me that proverbial kick in the backside that I needed to stop wasting time and buckle down. I sincerely hope that you feel better soon and that you stay strong.
Dec 18, 2007
Northampton, MA - USA
Thanks guys. . . I'm doing well though I'm still in awe of the situation and how it took me totally off guard. According to one of the therapists I used to see, such things are proof that someone has a genuine issue and not a psychosomatic creation (which tends to be the case with most people).

A buddy of mine patted me on the back and pointed out that it might just be time for me to do the one thing I do best -- TEACH. It is one of my passions in that I want so much to help others (not just in magic) to improve their situation and move forward. This includes, at least for me, revealing my vulnerabilities and "issues" to some extent, so others that are juggling similar challenges can see that an illness or injury of most any type, can be overcome. We might not be able to obtain that Las Vegas headliner status but we can move forward in ways that allow us to be "a star" in our own right, it just requires a positive attitude and determination.

None of us know if and when the proverbial rug is going to be yanked out from under our feet. I've got associates that lost their health and livelihood after years of working an award winning dove act, only to suddenly come down with major lung complications because of the birds. We've all heard of those stabbed hands and how various performers get injured by big cats as well as those who've become paralyzed because of a show related accident and yet, in every instance, these people have bounced back and become amazing examples for us all, including me.

There are no such things as accidents or coincidence, everything has its reason. For me, for now, I think it has to do with being a bit more true to myself, realizing that the "high life" I knew in my youth was then and this is now. . . a new path and reality. But that's how life works, isn't it?
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