Staring Into Someone's Eyes For 10 Minutes Is The Same As Getting High

Cool... or creepy?

Last updated on Mar 05, 2023

couple starring at each other Melissa Wiederrecht, Purpose / Shutterstock

Imagine relaxing in bed with your significant other, staring deeply into their eyes, and then all of a sudden they change into a monster. Not only is it unexpected, but you probably think your mind is playing tricks on you.

But can staring into someone's eyes for 10 minutes really make you feel like you just did LSD or are hallucinating?

Eye contact helps us express many different feelings. It can foster intimacy and connection. But for a prolonged period of time, it can cause problems. And there's a very specific reason why.


What is the Troxler effect?

The Troxler effect, or Troxler's fading phenomenon, is a psychological optical illusion that affects visual perception.

By making direct eye contact with someone, you become temporarily disconnected from your environment and natural surroundings. This is because when we stare at a focal point for a prolonged period of time, details in your peripheral vision gradually begin to disappear.

So, when we stare into someone's eyes, our sight is solely focused on them, leaving any surrounding space, or "reality," behind.

RELATED: The 10-Second Psychological Game That Shows How Your Brain Works


The Troxler effect was first discovered by the Swiss physician and philosopher Ignaz Paul Vital Troxler In 1804. He began to notice that whenever he focused hard on a central point of an image, certain colors and objects in his peripheral vision disappeared or faded away.

It is said that this happens because our brains are trying to "fill in the gaps" of our peripheral vision because the longer we stare at a central point, our peripheral vision fades away. Our brains are separating out central things from the peripherals to help us focus.

In other words, our brains are deeming what's in our periphery as less important and "fades them away" to shorten the processing time.



This can also happen when you use a mirror and look into your own eyes for about 10 minutes. However, this time, the effect becomes much scarier.




When trying this out, your face may begin to fuse together or look deformed.

Many call this seeing the monster in the mirror since your brain has become bored and is trying to "scare you" to move your eyes.

Why does Troxler’s fading occur?

A 2015 study in "Psychiatry Research" found that "staring into someone's eyes for 10 minutes can induce hallucinations, from seeing distorted faces to monsters."


To figure out why this happens, Italian psychologist Giovanni Caputo conducted an experiment in which a group of 40 volunteers was paired up.

Half of the pairs were instructed to sit face-to-face and then stare into each other's eyes for 10 minutes, without showing any emotion; the other half were told to sit back-to-back and stare at a wall.

The results of the group of pairs facing each other were shocking.

In terms of hallucinations, "90% of the paired volunteers reported seeing changes to the face of the person they were staring at, with 90% admitting they saw their partner's face appear deformed, 75% saw monstrous beings, and 15% even saw traits of a relative's face appear on their partner."


RELATED: Staring At This Optical Illusion For 30 Seconds Will Make You Hallucinate

Why do people experience hallucinations when staring into someone's eyes for 10 minutes or more?

Caputo believes that these hallucinations "are a consequence of coming back to 'reality' after experiencing an altered state of consciousness caused by the lack of sensory stimulation."

Caputo further explained that these hallucinations occur because "the brain snaps back to reality after zoning out and the mind transmits subconscious thoughts onto the face of the other person.”

If our eyes aren't stimulated by a different scene after a certain period of time, our unconscious brings buried images into consciousness.


Staring into someone's eyes can heighten intimacy, but it can also allow you to project subconscious images onto the person you're staring at.

So, don't just stare at each other — put some thought into your gaze so you don't risk zoning out and unleashing your inner demons.

How to Experience the Troxler Effect

1. The lilac chaser

For the lilac chaser test, focus on the black plus sign in the middle of the moving image. Don't strain your eyes, but try not to move your attention away from that spot.


As you stare at the spot for about 10-20 seconds, some things may start happening.

You may notice that the moving spot has turned a bluish-green. You may also see that the circle has disappeared, just leaving the moving spot.

2. Gaussian color noise

troxler effectPhoto: Wikimedia Commons

Stare at the black plus sign in the middle of the image for 10-20 seconds. Again, don't strain your eyes but try not to look away.


As you look, the colors should fade to white.

RELATED: People With Higher Than Average IQs Can See The Hidden Image In These Zig-Zag Lines

Stacy Narine is a regular contributor to YourTango. She has her B.A. in English and is in the M.A. program in Literature at Seton Hall University.