Staring deeply into someone else's eye can transport people to an altered state of consciousness in which they experience strange hallucinations, a new study suggests.
For this study 20 people were put in a dimly lit room and were made to sit opposite each other in pairs. Then they were asked to stare at each other, expressionless for 10 minutes. Many of the subjects had "a compelling experience that they never had before". The study was undertaken by Giovanni Caputo, researcher from the University of Urbino, Italy.
AdvertisementQuestions regarding their experience were asked such as 'Did you see the face of a monster?', 'Did you see the face of one of your relatives?', 'Did you see that some facial traits were deformed?' and 'Did you see the face of a domestic or savage animal?'A majority of 90% reported hallucinating that they had seen a deformed face, and 75% said they had seen a monster.
Half of them said that their partner's face had partially morphed or merged into their own face and 15% said they had seen a relative's face. Also it was reported that the subjects felt dissociated from the world around them.
"A possible explanation of the results can be that the sensory deprivation (low lighting) and the sustained gazing toward a stimulus (the other's face) induces a general level of dissociation," said Caputo.
"The strange-face apparition momentarily interrupts the dissociative state by provoking a temporary hallucination. In other words, the strange-face apparition can be a form of rebound to 'reality' that occurs from a general state of dissociation due to sensory deprivation," he added.
The study was published in the journal Psychiatry Research.