Eyes may be the window to the soul but research shows that staring into the eyes of someone else could be the window to your own soul too.
Giovanni Caputo had 50 volunteers that he worked with in his initial research. He got them to sit across from a mirror and stare into their own eyes for 10 minutes. The volunteers began to experience a phenomenon called ‘strange-face illusion’ where instead of seeing themselves, they see images such as lost family members, monsters and animals.
Although the effects of staring into a mirror for extended periods of time produce bizarre results, when you do the same but staring into someone else’s eyes, the results are even more enhanced.
Research published in Psychiatry Research reported how Caputo performed a similar exercise but with young adults staring at each other, although the volunteers weren’t informed what the exercise would involve. He got 20 pairs of people and placed them 3.3 feet apart, half of the pairs stared directly at each other and the other half sat back-to-back and stared at the wall. The room was dimly lit and lessened color and perception, not so dim that they couldn’t determine facial features though.
The volunteers who faced each other for 10 minutes had some impressive results, 90% of them said their partners face appeared deformed, 75% saw monsters and 15% said they could see the faces of relatives. They also experienced the sensation of time slowing down, spacing out, noises appearing to be louder than they were and high levels of color intensity.
Giovanni Caputo concluded that the results indicate symptoms of disassociation. Disassociation is the departure of someone’s connection to reality. He believes the hallucinations occurred because of coming back to reality after entering the dissociation state.
It’s an interesting phenomenon and it looks like there’s a lot that can be learned from it.