Does the gaze induce altered states of consciousness?

Does the gaze induce altered states of consciousness?

It has already been a long time since we first spoke of gaze as a factor affecting consciousness. Franz Anton Mesmer, Austrian physician and philosopher, was the one who laid the foundations of the 'Theory of Mesmerism'. According to the same, the human body radiates the same energy radiated by other bodies. This energy, in turn, will exert an influence on other bodies.

Based on this statement, James Braid, a Scottish doctor, coined the term 'hypnosis' and indicated that 'sustained gaze paralyzes the nerve centers of the eyes and causes addiction which, by altering the balance of the nervous system, produces this phenomenon (hypnosis) '.

'The soul that can speak with the eyes can also kiss with the eyes' - Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer–

One of the methods of hypnosis that developed from this understanding of influence was the 'fixed gaze technique'. Halfway between beliefs and knowledge, this technique is applied by speaking and looking the other person in the eye. In doing so, phrases are used that suggest the person, so that he reaches that intermediate state between wakefulness and sleep that we know as hypnosis.

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More recently, a study by Dr. Giovanni B. Caputo, of the University of Urbino, which would seem to demonstrate that the gaze leads to altered states of consciousness. This information has not been verified by other contemporary studies, so we present it for informational purposes only.

Caputo's studies regarding the gaze

Giovanni Caputo gathered 50 volunteers to carry out this study on the gaze. He initially formed 15 couples. The members of each couple had to sit facing each other, at least 1 meter apart, and look their partner in the eye for 10 minutes.


Another group was led into a room, but this time people were not supposed to look each other in the eye, but to stare at themselves in front of a mirror. At the end of the experiment, the two groups responded to a questionnaire that had previously been prepared for the study.

According to the answers obtained by Caputo, 90% of the participants in the experiment had hallucinatory experiences, in both groups. They claimed to have seen deformed faces and monstrous figures. They also claimed to have had the feeling of being outside of reality. Thanks to this experiment, it was concluded that the gaze induces altered states of consciousness .

Other experiments with the gaze

With a totally different purpose, the Amnesty international organization has carried out an experiment on the gaze starting from a statement made by the social psychologist Arthur Aron: looking a person in the eye for 4 minutes generates unexpected closeness.

Amnisty Internacional made a small experiment by creating pairs of European citizens and refugees from other countries. This consisted simply of facing each other and looking into each other's eyes for 4 minutes. The purpose was to prove that many prejudices disappear when you take a moment to see and look at the other, however different it may seem.


Without exception, all those who participated in the experiment felt closer to the person in front of them. Also in this case, without exception, affectionate conversations began and a mutual empathy developed. What was so desired was proved: no matter the origins, the language or the color of the skin. In every individual there is a human being who can be recognized.

The enigmatic world of the gaze

The gaze has always been a source of questions and fascination for the human being. There are many myths associated with the power of the gaze. The most famous is that of Medusa, the mythological figure who transformed everything he looked at into stone. And how can we forget Tiresias, the blind man who can predict the future.

The look has so much power that it has a meaning in and of itself. Each glance hides an intention: sometimes to recognize, others to ignore. When you look or don't look, you send a message. The loving gaze is admiration. The envious look condemns. The look of hate kills, it's like a dagger.


In any perspective you look at it, the gaze has an influence. Create or change the consciousness of whoever is being watched. The look comforts and makes people feel observed or ignored. The eyes, the mirror of the soul, are a window through which one enters or escapes from the world of human beings.