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Whimsical experiment: Ten minutes of eye contact lead to hallucinations
An Italian researcher found in an experiment that intensive eye contact between two healthy people can bring about a change in the state of consciousness. The following sensations resemble a mild "dissociation".
Look in the eye for ten minutes
An Italian psychologist claims that he found an easy way to bring about a change in consciousness in healthy people. As reported on the British Psychological Society's Research Digest portal, the researcher found that two people who look into each other's eyes for ten minutes in a dimly lit room experience sensations that are mild. Dissociation ”. The scientist's results were published in the journal "Psychiatry Research".
Experiment in a dimly lit room
For his experiment, Giovanni Caputo had 20 young adults (15 women) form couples who sat opposite each other in a large, dimly lit room at a distance of one meter.
According to Caputo, the illuminance allowed "a detailed perception of the fine facial features", but only a "weakened color perception".
The task of the participants was simply to look each other in the eye for ten minutes while maintaining a neutral facial expression.
A control group of a further 20 participants also sat in pairs in a dimly lit room, but their chairs faced the wall so they stared at it.
Both groups were informed that the study would include a “meditative experience with their eyes open”.
Some subjects saw aspects of their own faces when they were opposite
At the end of ten minutes, the subjects filled out three questionnaires: the first was an 18-point test for dissociative conditions, the other two asked questions about their experiences with the other person's face.
The participants in the group, looking at the eyes of the others, said that they had had an experience that was different from anything they had previously felt.
The test of dissociative states showed a connection with reduced color intensity and changed perception of noise.
In the questionnaire with the strange face, 90 percent of the group, looking at the eyes, agreed that they had seen some deformed facial features.
75 percent said they saw a monster, 50 percent said they saw aspects of their own face when viewed, and 15 percent said they saw a relative's face.
Researchers cannot yet explain the observed effect
Caputo is of the opinion that the hallucinations are a kind of rebound effect, since the participants of the group returned to "reality" with a look on the eyes after the dissociation.
In the event of dissociation, those affected lose touch with reality. For those affected, the world appears unreal, it can lead to memory loss and unusual perception experiences, such as seeing the world in black and white.
However, the researcher also pointed out that his conclusion is largely speculation and that the study should be considered preliminary.
Previous attempts have shown that simply staring at a point on the wall can cause dissociative conditions for a longer period of time, as well as looking at one's own face in the mirror.
Why this is the case is not yet clear. And also not why the effect when looking into the eyes was much more intense. (ad)