Every time I watch Derren Brown’s act, all I can think is that it must be overwhelming and probably terrifying to be the unwitting participant in his mind games. (The Push? Hell to the no.) Turns out, my impression isn’t that far off.

Richard Critchlow was the subject of a wildly elaborate stunt by the envelope-pushing mentalist for his Trick or Treat television show back in 2007. He was put into a trance in a phone booth in the UK, but when Critchlow came to, he stumbled out of the booth and onto the streets of Morocco. Now, more than a decade later, Critchlow has penned an essay about the experience for The Huffington Post.

His account feels partly like an episode of Twin Peaks with a healthy dash of Punked. “All I remember is 1,000 things going through my head and that I was scared,” Critchlow said of his realization that he had been transported thousands of miles away. No crap. This is one you really have to read for yourself. Tl;dr – anything could happen if you sign on to work with Brown. Anything.

Juliet Arndt is the epitome of an international performer. Audiences from Russia to Jakarta have seen her unique approach to mentalism. These days, she’s based in Dubai, where she aspires to become the David Copperfield of the Middle East.

She spoke with Gulf News about her act. Arndt said many of the other acts in her field play it for laughs. “Usually it’s comedy hypnosis, and people are embarrassed in the show,” she explained. “So my show is completely the opposite. I use a lot of storytelling and I combine hypnosis with magic, with illusions.”

Arndt is a big believer in the power of the human mind, and that’s true in her off-stage career too. When she’s not performing mentalism, she works in hypnotherapy and cognitive coaching. Her interest in the medical side of hypnosis came from her grandmother, a healer who passed on her knowledge to Arndt. “[People] are listening to the hypnotist and going into a trance to establish new patterns. Because everything that we think is a pattern — for instance how we deal with stress — and I’m helping people develop a more resilient personality.”

If you’re in Dubai and want to catch her act, Arndt is performing at The Junction on May 11 at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

Magicians and mentalists of all kinds love to push the boundaries of what’s humanly possible. It’s why Houdini straps on a straitjacket, or why David Blaine holds his breath for ten minutes. Even as impressive as some of these moments are, sometimes I can’t help but ask: “Why???”

Case in point: Martin Castor is a mentalist and hypnotist who’s recently found success moving up the ranks on Denmark’s Got Talent. A few days ago, he posted the video above to his YouTube channel, where he asks his audience to choose the order of the numbers one, two, and three. He then displays three animal traps on a table, and proceeds to activate them with carrot sticks – the trap severs the carrot cleanly in half. And then he just… puts his hand in the last one. Just puts it in there. 

If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the whole video above. It’s an incredible talent, but you’ll probably clench your teeth for the entire three-minute routine. If you’re looking for something a bit less… painful, be sure to check out the mesmerism routine that won Castor a golden buzzer on Denmark’s Got Talent from a few months ago: