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Lovers, take note! Gazing deeply into someone else’s eyes can transport people to an altered state of consciousness in which they experience strange hallucinations, a new study suggests.

Researcher Giovanni Caputo, from the University of Urbino, Italy, put 20 people in a dimly lit room and made them sit opposite each other in pairs. They then stared at each other, expressionless, for ten minutes.

Many of the subjects had “a compelling experience that they never had before”.

They were asked questions about their experience 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?’

Ninety per cent reported hallucinating that they had seen a deformed face, and 75 per cent said they had seen a monster.
Half said their partner’s face had partially morphed into their own and 15 per cent said they had seen a relative’s face, ‘The Times’ reported.

The subjects also felt disassociated 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,” Caputo said.

“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.


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