Video: The Buzz In The Sight - Research
We have heard that the eyes are the mirror of the soul since childhood. And that if the interlocutor looks away, you should not trust him - he is clearly not saying something. But loyal eye contact is a sign of interest and attention. But it turns out that you shouldn't get too carried away with gazing games - no matter how sincere and enthusiastic you try to appear. The journal Psychiatry Research recently published the results of a study that found that prolonged eye contact can cause hallucinations.
Let's start with the fact that when a person focuses on a certain object for a long time, the environment at the periphery begins to gradually disappear. This phenomenon is part of the Troxler phenomenon 1… Italian psychologist Giovanni Caputo wanted to check what happens if you look not at an object, but exchange a continuous look with another person. To do this, he recruited a team of 40 volunteers, whom he divided into two groups: the first 10 couples (control group) sat with their backs to each other in a dimly lit room and looked at the wall for 10 minutes, the second were also put in a gloomy room, but already facing each other to a friend and asked for the same 10 minutes to maintain eye contact with a partner - and a neutral expression. From all the participants in the experiment, they prudently concealed the true purpose of the experiment, saying that they were doing a meditation exercise.
1 The Troxler effect, or the Troxler phenomenon, is a physiological phenomenon in the field of visual perception. First described by the Swiss physician, philosopher and politician Ignaz Troxler in 1804. The manifestation of the phenomenon consists in the termination of the perception of a visual stimulus, which occupies a strictly constant position in relation to the retina.
After a certain time, all the volunteers filled out the questionnaires - and here the interesting began. In the second group, much more often than in the control group, they complained of "side effects": the perception of color and sound changed, many lost touch with reality, some even thought that time had stopped. And only 10% of participants from the second group avoided hallucinations, all the rest observed how the partner's traits change: 90% admitted that the partner's face looked deformed, 15% began to notice in the person opposite the similarity with their relatives, and 75% saw … monsters.
The results of this experiment are consistent with an earlier study by Caputo, which was published in the journal Perception in 2010. Then the participants sat in a dim room in front of a mirror and looked at their own reflection for 10 minutes. Many started hallucinating in less than a minute! Their faces distorted and changed, more and more resembling animals, sick family members or - again - monsters.
Caputo explains these consequences by disassociation 2, which occurs when we move away from the reality around us. True, with a caveat - this does not apply to those cases when participants began to see strange and ugly faces. He believes that hallucinations with monsters are already a consequence of returning to reality after a person has experienced a state of expanded consciousness caused by a lack of sensory stimulation. The brain that wakes up after "blackout" transmits subconscious thoughts to the face of another person.
2 The psychological process, the reverse of the association, is the disintegration of the association into its constituent elements.
Giovanni Caputo's research can be very valuable contributions to understanding how hallucinations occur in patients with mental disorders such as schizophrenia. The author believes that “isolated parts of the self, which are usually projected during delirium, can be implanted into consciousness”, which will help to avoid deterioration in the early stages of the disease.