Abstract

Strange-face illusions are apparitional perceptions of deformed faces, unknown people and monstrous beings produced by prolonged staring at one's own face in a mirror or when staring eye to eye at another person in a dyad, at low-level room illumination. In the authors’ experiment, portrait artists drew illusions they perceived during a 10-minute eye-to-eye gazing session while paired in dyads with naive participants. Dissociation was measured through standard self-report questionnaires. Results showed that portraits became more abstract and less figurative as the artists experienced higher levels of nonpathological dissociation. Statistically, a significant correlation was found between art-abstraction ratings and dissociation scores by judges and portrait artists, respectively. Findings are discussed in relationship to portraits à la manière de Scipione and Francis Bacon.

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