My ex-wife would "see things" with her eyes closed.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jack Briggs, Mar 25, 2002.

  1. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    And she wasn't on psilocybin, either.

    This is something strange that I first heard about back in 1976. My girlfriend and I had just married. Late one night in the winter of '76, while waiting to drift off into sleep, Linda made a sound of alarm.

    "What is it?" I asked.

    "I just saw a really grotesque face that was bleeding."

    "You what?" I replied, leaning toward her.

    Then she explained that, ever since childhood, she could see images when closing her eyes at night. Not vague outlines or after-images, but full-blown, full-color images of faces, and that most of them weren't pleasant. She even went on to say that sometimes she couldn't get to sleep because of how unpleasant some of these images were.

    I was blown away.

    Then I mentioned this phenomenon to my parents. Imagine my surprise when they, too, told me that they see these sorts of things. With my mother (now deceased, as is my father), it was images of eyes staring back at her. My father said he could see eyes as well as entire faces.

    The next Monday at work--I had just started out as a professional copywriter at a book-publishing outfit--I mentioned these disturbing conversations to a co-worker. At first he said, "How long have you been experiencing this problem?"

    "It's not me, you idiot--my wife is the one seeing things with her eyes closed."

    "Yeah, sure," he said, walking away with a smile on his face.

    As for me, when I close my eyes in a dark room I see, well, nothing. Blackness. Occasionally I can make out vague outlines of shapes, but that's all.

    What phenomenon, I wonder, would account for the images-with-eyes-closed experiences? Would it be strictly neurological? Or would there be psychological factors involved?

    And, finally, have any of you ever experienced anything like this?
     
  2. Michael Silla

    Michael Silla Second Unit

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    Nope,
    I like you, can only make out "fuzzy" images when sleeping. When I do happen to dream (or remember the dream) I still don't get "crisp, clear" film like images like you describe. From the sounds of it, maybe I don't want to after all....[​IMG]
    Michael.
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Well, this wasn't even dreaming. She would see this stuff while wide awake. Creepy, huh?
     
  4. Ike

    Ike Screenwriter

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    How come I have a feeling that the "believers" will say it was ghost visitation? [​IMG]
    I can't say I've ever seen this phenomena for myself, and I have to say I'm glad I haven't.
     
  5. Scott McGillivray

    Scott McGillivray Supporting Actor

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    Hi Jack.

    This sounds really interesting. It sort of reminds me of what happens to me at night where I hear all kinds of things in my head. Sort of like someone surfing around a radio station. It is not music, but snippits of conversation. All the voices are very distinct, but not ones that I recognize. I never really investigated it. As for the case you are talking about, I would perhaps explore it deeper. Perhaps get a friend who is a good artist to draw some of these faces out to see if they mean anything to someone else. Or perhaps try hypnosis. Never tried it myself, but could be interesting. If it is something that is causing a person to lose sleep, I would go and talk to a professional councellor and see if it may be some repressed images from their past.

    Keep us posted to see what you find out!
     
  6. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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    Fascinating stuff (and I'm drawn to these threads like moths to a light!) [​IMG]
    I'm not an expert on any of these phenomena, but here's some (crazy?) ideas as to what it could be:
     
  7. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Wait a minute, Jack. I thought you hated your ex-wife (first or second?). Why did you bring her up?
     
  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    It wasn't her so much as what she reported to me, vis. those images--something I always filed in the back of my head and which would surface from time to time. (My first wife was a self-centered and hopelessly neurotic person--but an extremely great-looking woman. The second wife, though sexier than the first, was a psychotic.)

    That this is an internal phenomenon I have no doubt. I mean, come on--"paranormal" nonsense never even entered my thoughts here, and never would. I am curious about how common this might be, and, more so, what the causes are. Perhaps some persons are more visually oriented than others.

    For example, prior to his first injesting mescaline, the great Aldous Huxley wondered if he would even be capable of experiencing visions and other manifestations of psychedelic consciousness--because, he wrote, "I'm not a visionary person." But the stuff worked, and The Doors of Perception is the artistic result.

    It is established that the brain secretes small amounts of dimethyltryptamine--aka, DMT, the most powerful psychedelic agent known to humanity and a Schedule I substance on the DEA's list. I believe it's the cause of the phenomenona people report upon being declared clinically dead only to regain consciousness. Perhaps the brain has evolved to release the substance upon death as a means of making the ultimate trauma more bearable.

    Well, how about these images being caused by a brief burst of DMT in the brain?

    Avoiding any and all New Age/"paranormal" "explanations," what really could be the cause of something such as this? Any neurology experts here at HTF? Cees Alons, what would you make of this?
     
  9. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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    Well, you said yourself that she was neurotic, so that could explain it right there. Otherwise, perhaps it's an overactive imagination, chemical imbalance (caused by substance use or occurring "naturally"), or she had repressed memories of a traumatic experience early in life. If she's seeing a grotesque bloody face, then perhaps she saw one for real early in life and it "scarred" her psychologically.
    But then I'm no psychiatrist, I'm just a computer geek. [​IMG]
    KJP
     
  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Well, how about what my late parents were reporting? Also, there was one other person at work in those days--the department head, in fact--who told me he could see faces with his eyes closed. "They are like gods," he said, losing me in the process. What does a "god" necessarily look like? Maybe the namesake character in the ST:TOS episode "Who Mourns for Adonis"?

    For a while, back in 1976-'77, I was actually jealous of my wife being able to see things that I could not. I'd close my eyes at night, and wait and wait, ever hopeful that something cool might appear.

    But nothing ever did--that is, as long as I was, well, in a normal state of consciousness.
     
  11. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Jack,
    Can't resist, but I'm certainly not a neurological expert!
    I had been thinking about your post, and here are some thoughts.
    First, let's assume the brain is organized in a hierarchical way (is true). Now when visual stimuli enter the brain, some sort of processing has to take place (well known to be true also). Then at a certain higher level of abstraction, things we see reach a place where we know and recognize what it is that we see (accepted too). At that level, some of the specific aspects of those images are already removed, and a more generic form is created.
    I would assume that it would be possible, either as a result of higher (or lower) local concentration of whatever substance OR as a result of stochastic electric phenomena (like just before or during sleep, let's just call it alpha-rythms), or both, that those centres could be receiving (or react just as if they received) a stimulus equal to but not caused by really seeing something (I mean: like seeing when an actual image is projected on the retina).
    When I almost fall asleep, I sometimes hear music or other sounds that are not there (mmm, sometimes it is actually my snoring [​IMG]), but someone else may be more sensitive to "seeing images". And we all dream, i.e. see images, hear people and talk to them - not!
    And furthermore, I guess that eyes and faces are among the most easily "recognized" images (so perhaps the recognition is more easily "excited").
    Tests have been performed (very rarely) where conscious people with open skulls have reported hearing things, seeing things (even smelling things) when certain areas of the brain were stimulated electrically (almost exclusively the surface of the brain).
    Did your wife know she didn't really see those things (with her eyes)? I assume she did, which would make it less probable it was of a mostly psychotic nature.
    (One thing has always puzzled me. In my dream I sometimes say to someone "This is a dream!", and although one may not always really be aware of that fact when dreaming, you definitely know, when you awake again it was a dream. And everyone reading this knows now that he/she isn't dreaming at the moment. Despite some popular notitions about that in SciFi books, films or other artforms or by fancy theorists. You do know when you're awake that you are awake!)
    OK. Based partly on knowledge, partly on logic reasoning. Does it sound reasonable indeed?
    Cees
     
  12. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Cees, that's an excellent post, and your reasoning seems impeccable to me. That makes a lot of sense; I see the logic there.

    As for whether my dearly beloved actually knew those images were strictly illusory, I assume so. Like me, she was not given to non-rational lines of reasoning--despite her frequent emotional outbursts (but that's another story!).

    This reminds me of the waking-dream phenomenon--one that I've experienced. The last time I experienced something such as that, I saw myself following someone--a woman--and she appeared to leave the large room and wander into a hall. I realized I was experiencing a dream, and was enjoying the fact that I was aware that I was dreaming, and so I thought I'd make for that "hallway" and see what surprises lay in store for me. As I rounded the corner, everything went dark and the transition to full waking consciousness was almost seamless.

    This happened two months ago, and it was fascinating. The human brain has to be among the most marvelous things to behold.
     
  13. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Jack maybe your ex-wife just has a very vivid imagination, its possible.
    I know people with no imagination whatsoever, they refuse to watch SF/Fantasy because they think it makes no sense and they just can't wrap their minds around anything beyond normal logic,(hmmm just like the Oscar Awards).[​IMG]
    Reading this thread has me thinking, can we see colors in our dreams? Just closing my eyes now and thinking of the color red, I can't 'see' the color, do we think and dream only in black and white?
    When we hear sounds in our dreams, are those sounds in mono or surround stereo?[​IMG]
     
  14. Bill Cowmeadow

    Bill Cowmeadow Second Unit

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    Where is Mr. Andrew Markworthy when you need him?

    My wife and I can relate to this post. When we were first married we would both see someone standing in the corner of the bedroom just before going to sleep. It was the most bizarre thing. We both saw exactly the same thing on many different occasions. since that time I have had the phenomenon happen to me while staying at hotels. Most un-nerving.

    Calling Mr. Markworthy, this is your area of expertise.
     
  15. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Hey Jack. Did your 1st/2nd have schizophrenia? Perhaps she had a very mild form of it (I believe psychiatrists are now willing to accept a continuum of severity for schizophrenia). Not to say that people who see faces with their eyes closed are schizo, but does lend credence to "known" physical factors. Chronic sleep deprivation can also be a factor.

    Jack, maybe head to the university and find yourself a sensory deprivation tank? You should be able to "project" (teleport? damn, what's that word where you feel yourself moving out of your body?) yourself after a couple of hours.

    Your dream would be an example of lucid dreaming. The human brain can train itself to be fully conscious while in the dream state. Have fun with it! Hopefully you'll find the lucid dreaming thread that went through here a few months ago. To get yourself started, just wish yourself to lucid dream tonight. "I will be aware that I am dreaming when I sleep tonight". There are better techniques of course.
     
  16. Travis D

    Travis D Second Unit

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    Jack, your ex-wife didn't happen to see a 6 foot tall demonic bunny rabbit named Frank by any chance did she?

    Just asking.....
     
  17. Jeff Cooper

    Jeff Cooper Screenwriter

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    Every single time that I am dreaming and realize I'm dreaming, I immediately wake up. So I am never able to run around with super powers making anything I want happen in my dreams. [​IMG]
     
  18. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Steve Christou wrote:
     
  19. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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    I see afterimages all the time when I close my eyes. I also sometimes see small bits of color, especially if I've been rubbing my eyes. But I certainly don't see faces or anything else like that.
    As for dreaming in color, I certainly believe I do. I don't have lucid dreams but mine are generally pretty vivid and detailed anyway. They generally follow a horror movie-like script which may sound more like a nightmare than a dream but I enjoy them. The true nightmares are more along the lines of getting my Fiero all bashed up or finding half of my house gone or my new lawn, backbreakingly installed, all dug up. [​IMG] Give me nameless oozing horrors anyday.
     
  20. Dennis Reno

    Dennis Reno Supporting Actor

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