We all do it. It is probably one of the first things you in your morning routine. Pass a mirror and you can’t look? Yeah, right.

The point of this exercise is to answer a very simple question, but one that the answer may surprise: What happens when you stare into the mirror for too long?

I am an avid reader of Quora. This question was recently asked and this is the top answer:

An Italian psychologist, Giovanni Caputo, actually did an experiment on this once. He had people sit about 40 cm from a mirror in a dimly lit room (he suggested a 25W bulb) and stare into their own eyes. After about 10 minutes they were asked to report what they saw. Here is a description from Caputo:

“The descriptions differed greatly across individuals and included: (a) huge deformations of one’s own face (reported by 66% of the fifty participants); (b) a parent’s face with traits changed (18%), of whom 8% were still alive and 10% were deceased; (c) an unknown person (28%); (d) an archetypal face, such as that of an old woman, a child, or a portrait of an ancestor (28%); (e) an animal face such as that of a cat, pig, or lion (18%); (f ) fantastical and monstrous beings (48%).”

He also said that the subjects reported strange emotional reactions:

“The participants reported that apparition of new faces in the mirror caused sensations of otherness when the new face appeared to be that of another, unknown person or strange `other’ looking at him/her from within or beyond the mirror. All fifty participants experienced some form of this dissociative identity effect, at least for some apparition of strange faces and often reported strong emotional responses in these instances. For example, some observers felt that the `other’ watched them with an enigmatic expression – situation that they found astonishing. Some participants saw a malign expression on the ‘other’ face and became anxious. Other participants felt that the `other’ was smiling or cheerful, and experienced positive emotions in response. The apparition of deceased parents or of archetypal portraits produced feelings of silent query. Apparition of monstrous beings produced fear or disturbance. Dynamic deformations of new faces (like pulsations or shrinking, smiling or grinding) produced an overall sense of inquietude for things out of control.”

Very creepy indeed. I have yet to attempt this illusion, but if any brave soul does please put your experience in the comments. I’d be very interested in hearing exactly what happens.

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