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  • Writer's pictureJeff South

Blogtober 2021: Liquid


Caputo asked 50 subjects to gaze at their reflected faces in a mirror for a 10-minute session. After less than a minute, most observers began to perceive the “strange-face illusion.” The participants’ descriptions included huge deformations of their own faces; seeing the faces of alive or deceased parents; archetypal faces such as an old woman, child or the portrait of an ancestor; animal faces such as a cat, pig or lion; and even fantastical and monstrous beings. All 50 participants reported feelings of “otherness” when confronted with a face that seemed suddenly unfamiliar. Some felt powerful emotions.

Scientific American

"Illusory Scenes Fade Into and Out of View"

July 1, 2013


What am I supposed to be seeing here? I've been staring into my reflection for over five minutes and the only thing I see is my sagging jawline and graying temples. My expression seems melancholy, if I do say so myself, but that could easily be attributed to being haunted by a poltergeist for some unknown reason.

Not entirely true. I have felt melancholy for months now without really knowing why. A general droopiness that springs on me without warning. One moment I'm fine, the next I'm awash in a doleful funk.

"Maybe you need to see someone," my wife said when I told her about it. "You've seen a therapist before and it helped."

I offered my usual non-committal shrug to her suggestion because I didn't want to have to explain myself to someone. I don't like having to explain myself. Besides, would I share with this potential therapist that some unseen force is taunting me in my own home? That hardly seems like a topic one broaches in therapy.

It's been almost ten minutes and I am about to give up on this Caputo nonsense. I release a beleaguered sigh, turn on the faucet, and splash cold water in my face. I grab the hand towel and dab the liquid from my face dry and check my reflection once again.

There it is.

Me, but not me. My face, but not my face.

Ugly. Sneering. Yellow-eyed. Dark.

I stumble back with a yelp and the face is gone. Just like the other day. It was there, scared the shit out of me, and faded all in instant.

Internet search: counselors and therapists in my area.

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