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The Collaborative International Dictionary

mentalism \mentalism\ n.

  1. a doctrine that mind is the only true reality and that objects exist only as aspects of the mind's awareness.

  2. Any theory of psychology that accepts introspective data about the functioning of the mind as a valid object of study; contrasted to behaviorism.


n. 1 The doctrine that physical reality exists only because of the mind's awareness 2 Activities such as mind-reading, especially when used by performers 3 oppression on the basis of neurological type or perceived intelligence


n. (philosophy) a doctrine that mind is the true reality and that objects exist only as aspects of the mind's awareness


Mentalism is a performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Performances may appear to include hypnosis, telepathy, clairvoyance, divination, precognition, psychokinesis, mediumship, mind control, memory feats and rapid mathematics. Mentalists are sometimes categorised as psychic entertainers, although that category also contains non-mentalist performers such as psychic readers and bizarrists.

Mentalism (psychology)

In psychology, mentalism is an umbrella term that refers to those branches of study that concentrate on mental perception and thought processes, in other words, cognition, like cognitive psychology. This is in opposition to disciplines, most notably behaviorism, that believe that study of psychology should focus on the structure of causal relationships to conditioned responses, that is to say behaviors, and seek to support this hypothesis through scientific methods and experimentation. Over the course of the history of psychology, mentalism and behaviorism have clashed, with one or the other representing the dominant paradigm of psychological investigation at different times in history.

Neither mentalism nor behaviorism are mutually exclusive fields; elements of one can be seen in the other, perhaps more so in modern times compared to the advent of psychology over a century ago.

Mentalism (philosophy)
For "Oriental Mentalism", see Paul Brunton.

In philosophy of mind, mentalism is the view that the mind and mental states exist as causally efficacious inner states of persons. The view should be distinguished from substance dualism, which is the view that the mind and the body (or brain) are two distinct kinds of things which nevertheless interact with one another. Although this dualistic view of the mind-body connection entails mentalism, mentalism does not entail dualism. Jerry Fodor and Noam Chomsky have been two of mentalism's most ardent recent defenders.

In linguistic terms, Mentalism represents rationalistic philosophy (as opposed to Behaviouristic).

Mentalism (disambiguation)

Mentalism is an ancient performing art in which the practitioner simulates supernatural mental powers.

Mentalism may also refer to:

  • Mentalism (philosophy), the belief that the mind is what truly exists
  • Mentalism (psychology), those branches of study that concentrate on mental perception and thought processes
  • Mentalism (discrimination), a form of discrimination against people labeled as having a mental disorder
Mentalism (discrimination)

Mentalism or sanism is a form of discrimination and oppression because of a mental trait or condition a person has, or is judged to have. This may or may not be described in terms of mental disorder or disability. The discrimination is based on numerous factors such as: stereotypes about neurodivergence (e.g. autism, ADHD, bipolar, schizophrenia, personality disorder diagnoses), specific behavioral phenomena (e.g. stuttering, tics), or supposed intelligence.

Like other "isms" such as sexism and racism, mentalism involves multiple intersecting oppressions and complex social inequalities and imbalances of power. It can result in covert discrimination by multiple, small insults and indignities. It is characterized by judgments of another person's perceived mental health status. These judgments are followed by actions such as blatant, overt discrimination (refusal of service, denying of human rights). Mentalism impacts how individuals are treated by the general public, by mental health professionals, and by institutions, including the legal system. The negative attitudes may also be internalized.

The terms mentalism (from mental) and sanism (from sane) have some widespread use, though concepts such as social stigma, and in some cases ableism, may be used in similar but not identical ways.

While mentalism and sanism are used interchangeably, sanism is becoming predominant in certain circles, such as academics, those who identify as mad and mad advocates and in a socio-political context where sanism is gaining ground as a movement. The movement of sanism is an act of resistance among those who identify as mad, consumer survivors, and mental health advocates. In academia evidence of this movement can be found in the number of recent publications about sanism and social work practice.