They say the eyes are the window to the soul. Now, it may be that the eyes of others can be the windows into your own soul as well. Apparently by staring into the eyes of other people for extended periods of time, you can slip into an altered state of consciousness. This isn’t a bunch of pseudo-science nonsense, there’s some science behind it.
Giovanni Caputo, a researcher at the University of Urbino, Italy, made the discovery a few years ago after asking 50 volunteers to gaze upon their reflections in a mirror for 10 minutes in a dimly lit room. After about a minute, they began to experience trippy things.
After a while, their faces seem to warp. They start seeing images of animals, monsters, and even family members long since gone. This is a phenomenon known as “strange-face illusion.” The effects become even more bizarre when instead of a mirror, you look at another person.
Published in Psychiatry Research, Caputo brought in 40 young adults to sit across from each other in dimly lit rooms. They were placed 3.3 feet apart. The room was dim, but not so dim that they couldn’t pick up on finer facial features. Color and perception were diminished though.
Half of the group stared directly at one another. The other half sat back to back, staring at the wall. The participants weren’t told what the experiment was about, but were informed that it would involve meditation.
The results were pretty impressive. Those who faced each other said they experienced higher levels of color intensity. Noise seemed louder than they should have. Time slowed down and they spaced out. 90% said their partner’s face looked deformed. 75% said they saw monsters and 15% said they saw faces of their relatives.
Caputo says the sensations indicate symptoms of dissociation, which describes a departure from one’s connection to reality. He thinks these hallucinations could be a consequence of snapping back to this reality after entering into a dissociative state.