What Is The Ganzfeld Effect?
When the brain is starved of visual stimulation, it starts filling in the blanks on its own. This is known as the ganzfeld effect.
In 1930 a research was done by a psychologist established when people gaze into a featureless vision that hallucinates constantly their electroencephalogram changed.(1) This is called the ganzfeld effect.
This leads to unusual visual and auditory patterns that change the perceptions. It even leads to hallucinations.
Ganzfeld is a German word that means the whole field. It refers to an unstructured, uniform space covering the entire field.
How Does The Ganzfeld Effect Work?
The brain makes visual inputs to make sense of the world. If the brain is deprived of the information to perform tasks, the ganzfeld effect is created.
With the lack of incoming signals, the perception of brightness decreases or fades out.
As the retinal cells get active, you can see blood vessels in front of the eye, which after a few minutes turns gray. There may be zig-zag lines, dots, or a blob of color. The full effect takes 5-7 minutes.
The longer the exposure, the stronger is the result. The brain still continuously seeks outside stimuli, in the absence of which the higher cortex starts amplifying available information. This leads to the generation of visual and auditory hallucinations.
Uses Of Ganzfeld Effect
Ganzfeld effect is used in the research of extrasensory perception.
In the telepathy experiments, one person acts as a receiver and is exposed to white noise and homogenous red light. Another person relays information to the receiver. These investigations have mixed results and have been controversial and debatable.
Ganzfeld effect has also been used to research hallucinations. It has been useful in providing information on how the senses, especially vision function to detect change.
How To Create The Ganzfeld Effect?
To create a ganzfeld effect, a uniform field of vision has to be created, as it takes attention to detail.
Take a clean ping pong ball and cut the ball into half. The ball should have no spots or writing on it. Use each half to cover the different eyes. The halves of the ball should be tailored in a way that there are no gaps to let light in. You can use tapes or adhesives to ensure that they do not move.
Another way is to cut a white paper into the shape of an eye mask. Tie an elastic band to each side of the mask. This helps in keeping the mask over the eyes. You can glue cotton around the mask border to avoid the light from entering.
Ganzfeld goggles are also available in the market.
Whatever ways it is done make sure that the light reaching the eyes must be equal from all directions. The room should have no shadows or flickering lights.
Noise-canceling earphones, uninterrupted static, and some form of white noise are needed.
Put on the earphones and use eye coverings, but keep the eyes open. Settle down, be still, and begin the experiment.
Side Effects Of Ganzfeld Hallucinations
Ganzfeld effect can be safe for most people, while a few can experience disorientation and in some, the effect may have an intense side effect. With an exposure of 10-20 minutes, there is an intermittent loss of vision. For some people, it gets difficult to even tell if the eyes are closed or open. Though unsettling, the effects are temporary.
Some people experience disturbing hallucinations, which might be a goal for some people, but may be frightening.
Those with a mental health condition should not try the ganzfeld effect as there would be an aggravation due to sensory deprivation.
Ganzfeld is an unstructured uniform space that is produced by altering the sense of sight and sound. It deprives the brain of sensory input, which is required to understand the outside world. Deprivation of these sensory inputs causes the brain to try to fill in the blanks, which leads to visual and auditory hallucinations.
If someone wants, he can try to produce the ganzfeld effect on own. But, keep in mind the experience is subjective. It might be different for everyone.