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Percept Mot Skills. 2010 Jun;110(3 Pt 2):1125-38.

Apparitional experiences of new faces and dissociation of self-identity during mirror gazing.

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Department of Psychology, University of Urbino, via Saffi 15, 61029 Urbino, PU, Italy.


Apparitional experiences during mirror gazing were studied. Under low levels of illumination, individuals gazed at their own reflected faces in a mirror for a duration of 10 min. Face illumination was relatively uniform, via a nonvisible light source. After about a minute of mirror gazing, individuals reported perceiving strange faces--archetypical and often unknown, human or animal, living or departed parents with traits changed, and fantastical monstrous beings--instead of their own faces in the mirror. During these apparitions, the observers reported feeling that a strange person was watching them from within or beyond the mirror, while the observer maintained consciousness of himself looking at the strange "other." Three psychophysical experiments were conducted on 42 naive normal individuals. At an illumination of the face around 0.8 lux, the mean frequency of apparitions was 1.8 min x (-1) and mean duration was 7 sec. per apparition. At higher illumination, the frequency of apparitional experiences decreased while the duration of mirror gazing needed for the phenomenon to occur increased. This effect may be termed "conscious dissociation of self-identity" to distinguish it from pathological unconscious dissociative identity disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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