Most people have gotten bored to the point that they will stare at walls, and objects in varying degrees of lighting. By focusing our eyes and shifting attention, we can blur the outline of objects or watch plain surfaces bend and take on unorthodox properties. Staring randomly out of windows during class or looking at the multicolored designs of public space carpets, another phenomena occurs. We start to see faces and animals where none was apparent or intended.
Giovanni Caputo is a psychologist at the University of Urbino, Italy. He combines the abstract theories of dissociation, hallucination, dysmorphia, and projection to stretch what humans can create, perceive and experience. He shows how a meditative and altered state of consciousness can be created out of nothing more than staring into another person’s eyes for ten minutes.
He took twenty individuals and paired them up randomly. The participants were not informed about the purpose of the experiment, they were only told that researchers were exploring meditative avenues.
There was a control group of another twenty people that were also randomly paired up. Instead of staring at each other, the control group pairs sat in the room with one another and stared a a blank wall.
The experimental group was instructed to sit facing one another at a distance one meter (3.28 ft) from one another and stare into their partner’s eyes. The room was dimly lit to distort their color perceptions. There was enough light to easily distinguish each other’s features.
At the end of the ten minute stare down, participants given two questionnaires. One was geared towards exploring any dissociation symptoms experienced during the sessions.
Dissociation symptoms are disruptions of perception, awareness, or identity. Basically the experience of reality and how it changes. The other survey was about the specific perceptions of their partner’s face. The results were wild!
The experimental group (the group that stared at each other) reported high levels of dissociation. All test subjects experienced wild distortions in time, colors, and sounds. 90% of the participants hallucinated their partner’s face morphing and distorting.
75% saw their partners change into variations of monsters. 50% saw their own faces be super imposed and 15% saw their partner change into a relative of theirs.
Remember that they hadn’t been told that the researchers were looking for dissociation trances.
Caputo had done another study back in 2010, involving mirrors. Fifty participants were asked to look at their reflections under similar lighting schemes. The results were similarly fantastic.
Participants saw their parents, animals, monsters and portrait styled archetypes that weren’t readily recognized.