Of all of the mind-altering drugs that a person could use to create a shift in their consciousness, a new study from Italy is suggesting that all you need is a pair of eyes. No, you don’t eat them, weirdo, all you have to do is stare into them for prolonged periods of time.
The research was done by Giovanni Caputo from the University of Urbino and was his second such study involving eye contact. In his first experiment, he had 50 test subjects stare into a mirror at their own eyes for 10 minutes in a dimly-lit room. As the subjects stared at their reflection, they began to see animal faces, monsters, and even family members. Caputo described this phenomenon as “strange-face illusion“.
Apparently, if you want to amp up the effects of “strange-face illusion”, you need to swap out the mirror for another human being. In his second study, that is exactly what Caputo did. He took 40 adults and broke them up into pairs: half facing each other and half facing the walls with their backs together. As in the first experiment, the room was very dimly-lit – to the point where color wasn’t a factor. At the end of a 10 minute period of time, the participants filled out a questionnaire about their experience.
According to the British Psychological Society, “The participants in the eye-staring group said they’d had a compelling experience, unlike anything they’d felt before. They also scored higher on all three questionnaires than the control group. On the dissociative states test, they gave the strongest ratings to items related to reduced colour intensity, sounds seeming quieter or louder than expected, becoming spaced out, and time seeming to drag on. On the strange-face questionnaire, 90% of the eye-staring group agreed that they’d seen some deformed facial traits, 75% said they’d seen a monster, 50% said they saw aspects of their own face in their partner’s face, and 15% said they’d seen a relative’s face.”
Caputo believes the results are an indication of disassociation, which is a departure from one’s own reality. Caputo thinks that the real explanation is based on a phenomenon known as “Troxler fading”, where when staring at something for a long period of time the details in the periphery begin to fade and eventually disappear. When these details fade our brains fill in the information that is missing with what is expected or assumed. Why then would people’s brains make up something that is completely fictional in nature like a monster face?
Caputo admits that his research is in its infancy, but it is still a very interesting concept to ponder. I suggest you try either method of Caputo’s study and let us know what happens when you stare at a mirror or another person for 10 minutes.