Sociopath: a Bizarre psychometry experiment

A Bizarre-ish version of Pseudo-Psychometry disguised as real psychometry. It’s almost all acting and works better for some personas than for others.

“I collect unusual objects. I go to estate sales, antique shops and other places, looking for anything unusual or bizarre. A few of my friends also keep an eye out for things that could interest me.”

“Sometimes the objects themselves are fascinating.” If you happen to have some unusual object on you, you can show it and describe it now. “Sometimes it’s their history that makes them interesting. This is where my little gift comes in. Perhaps you’ve heard of psychometry? It’s the ability to sense something about people who have touched an object.” If you didn’t show an unusual object earlier, bring out some small, old object now — let’s say you remove an antique ring from your finger. “So, for example, I can tell you that the original owner of this ring was a flour merchant in Hungary. He led a rather ordinary life, he was married and had three sons, and died peacefully in his 70s.” You put the ring away and make a claim about some celebrity, contemporary or from the past, for example: “Much more interesting is the case of Ella Fitzgerald. I once had the opportunity to touch a dress she owned. She was actually quite shy.” (This is the case for many entertainers, e.g.: Barbra Streisand, Brad Pitt, David Bowie, Elvis, Gene Hackman, George Harrison, Henry Fonda, and many others.)

“One of the friends I mentioned earlier was kind enough to find me this: just a few days ago, he brought me this stack of fingerprint records. I don’t know where he got it… Come to think of it, I’m not sure I want to know where he got it!” Bring out an envelope or box and remove its contents: about a dozen police fingerprint records. Display them and hand out a few.

These should vary in size, age and design. You’ll have to make these yourself; a search for “fingerprint records” will get you many samples that you can re-create yourself. For a more authentic look, enlist the aid of some friends to make actual fingerprints, rather than printing them. Age the records appropriately. In addition to the fingerprints, they should show at least the case or file number, the name and perhaps date of birth of the suspect, the nature of the crime and the date of the report. On a few, you can emboss the shape of a paperclip near the upper left corner, so that it looks like a photograph had been attached to it.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to examine these, but let’s try something.” Gather the records you handed out onto the stack and turn the stack over; the records are now face down. Bring out a stack of envelopes large enough to hold any of the records. “It’s easier for me to pick up impressions when I don’t see the object, especially with writing — it’s too distracting. The fingerprints should leave a strong impression on the paper; I should be able to pick up on them.” Pick up the top record and put it in the envelope, which you then seal and place in the middle of the table. Do the same for another 4 or 5 records. Have a spectator mix up the envelopes and distribute them, or spread them out on the table, haphazardly.

Ask a spectator to hold out his envelope, or point to one on the table, and have the assisting spectator hold it. Put on your best psychometry action or expression, then hold your hands a few inches above and below the envelope, not touching it. Slowly describe what the suspect is like (examples are given below). Once you’ve done the reading, the envelope is opened and the record shown to the audience. Naturally, the crime fits your description of its perpetrator. Put the record to the side and do two or three more in the same way.

As soon as you put your hands around the fourth envelope, you recoil in shock and horror, both audibly and visibly. Obviously shaken, you talk about a violent, remorseless killer, describing his cold-bloodedness and cruelty in as much horrific detail as you and your audience can stomach. When you’re done, have the record verified, then call it quits, saying that you’re too upset to continue. You can add that, in any case, your gift doesn’t work when you feel like this. If you like, ask for a glass of water and take a few sips. Allow a few moments to regain your composure, then continue with something lighter.

You already know the method. It doesn’t matter which records you read or their order; three or four should be amply sufficient to convince the audience of your psychometry skills.

Not all criminals are career criminals or even sociopaths, so it’s a good idea to balance the hardened criminals with one or two crimes of passion, hardship, necessity or opportunity. Here are a few ideas:

  • This is a woman… middle-aged… I sense a lot of sadness and anger… a feeling of being betrayed — accused of shooting her husband;
  • This is a young man… I see depravity and violence, I sense recklessness — accused of hold-ups or muggings;
  • A man, probably in his forties… I sense suffering… hardship and despair — accused of shoplifting;
  • A middle-aged man… used to being in charge… greedy, an ice-cold heart — accused of major fraud.

In an informal setting, you can add some serious authenticy by pondering, “Who is this monster?” and asking someone with a computer or smartphone to do a quick search online on the name of the suspect. Ideally, it should be someone obscure, for which you can find no more than 2 or 3 hits, from at least 50 years ago or more, if from a stable country (i.e., USA, UK, Western European nations, Japan, South Africa, etc.), otherwise it’s unlikely that the arrest records will have been released (although you could claim that they’ve been stolen, or wonder if your friend paid someone to smuggle them out), and so on. Keep in mind that Google, Bing and some other sites can translate whole web pages for you; this allows you to find a criminal in a foreign country, preferably an unstable one, in which it’s not too difficult for official records to be lost, stolen, or misappropriated. Pick a country whose language can be typed by the spectator. Of course, the records and the story match the online description. If all else fails, make up a criminal and put his story up on some obscure site, such as an abandonned Blogger site (free blogs), mixed in with a few other criminals or events from, say, a particular community.

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