Dissociation and hallucinations in dyads engaged through interpersonal gazing

Psychiatry Res. 2015 Aug 30;228(3):659-63. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.04.050. Epub 2015 Jun 11.


Interpersonal gazing in dyads, when the two individuals in the dyad stare at each other in the eyes, is investigated in 20 healthy young individuals at low illumination for 10-min. Results indicate dissociative symptoms, dysmorphic face perceptions, and hallucination-like strange-face apparitions. Dissociative symptoms and face dysmorphia were correlated. Strange-face apparitions were non-correlated with dissociation and dysmorphia. These results indicate that dissociative symptoms and hallucinatory phenomena during interpersonal-gazing under low illumination can involve different processes. Strange-face apparitions may characterize the rebound to "reality" (perceptual reality caused by external stimulus and hallucinatory reality caused by internal input) from a dissociative state induced by sensory deprivation. These phenomena may explain psychodynamic projections of the subject's unconscious meanings into the other's face. The results indicate that interpersonal gazing in dyads can be an effective tool for studying experimentally-induced dissociative symptoms and hallucinatory-like apparitions.

Keywords: Dissociative-identity; Dysmorphia; Hallucination; Intersubjectivity; Mirror-gazing; Projection; Strange-face.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology*
  • Facial Recognition* / physiology
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular* / physiology
  • Hallucinations / diagnosis*
  • Hallucinations / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Young Adult