Why You See Monsters in the Mirror

Why You See Monsters in the Mirror


[INTRO ♪] Mirrors can be pretty freaking creepy. Don’t believe it? Go into the bathroom, turn off the lights, and stare at yourself in the mirror. Give it a minute or two … and you’ll start
to see things. Strange things. That’s what puts Bloody Mary right up there
with Seven Minutes in Heaven and Truth or Dare on the list of best old-school
slumber party games. In the 80s movie version, you say Bloody Mary’s
name three times and summon a terrifying demoness in the mirror— which, I’m doing just fine without those
particular nightmares, thank you very much. It’s weird that looking at your reflection
for too long makes you see a face in the mirror that’s
distorted and definitely not yours. That’s literally the opposite of what mirrors
are for. But even though it’s a little freaky, it can tell us a lot about how our brains
process images, especially faces. In 2010, an Italian researcher asked fifty
people to look into a mirror for ten minutes in a dimly lit room and write
down everything they saw. Two-thirds of them saw a distorted version
of their own face. Over a quarter saw someone that they’d never
met before, or what looked like an old woman or a child. And I’m literally getting goosebumps; this
is freaking me out. Almost half reported seeing quote-unquote “fantastical and monstrous beings.” Some of this weirdness can be explained by
the Troxler effect— where things in your peripheral vision start
to fade as you focus on something in the middle. That’s because the neurons in your eyes,
like other sensing neurons, stop reacting when they get the same stimulus
over and over and over again. It’s kind of like how you get used to smells, or stop feeling your shirt on your skin when
you’re sitting still or have no idea that these glasses are always
on your face even though they’re always there. But you don’t just see holes— your brain tries to fill in gaps in your visual
field by blending with the surrounding scenery. So staring into your reflection’s eyes can make your chin, ears, and forehead fade,
Cheshire Cat-style. But the Troxler effect alone doesn’t explain
why you see other people in the mirror. Psychologists think that may have more to
do with the way we perceive faces. Studies like the Thatcher illusion, where researchers flipped the the eyes and
mouth on a picture of Margaret Thatcher upside-down
to create a horrifying monster, show that we process the image of a face as
a gestalt: a whole that’s greater than the sum of its
parts. So when certain features that you know are
supposed to be part of a face are wrong or disappear, you start to have
trouble processing them. Some researchers think that’s what’s happening when you stare in the mirror for too long. The Troxler effect causes distortion and fading, which disrupts the assembly of various facial
features into a gestalt—therefore making the face feel more like it belongs to someone, or something, else. All 50 participants in the 2010 study reported feeling some amount of dissociation
from their reflection. The way they felt about the things they saw
in the mirror depended on what they saw— those that saw a terrible monster were understandably
more freaked out than those that saw a rando smiling at them. But they all had the sense that the face in
the mirror belonged to an “other”— a sign that high-level facial processing was
being disrupted. Not recognizing your reflection might not
seem like that big of a deal, but there’s a good reason it freaks people
out: the ability to recognize yourself in a mirror is strongly linked to your development of
a sense of self. It’s something few species can do, and even we humans can’t do it until we’re
about 20 months old. Recognizing your own reflection isn’t the
only indicator of self-awareness, but it’s a pretty important one. Researchers think it’s part of a series
of milestones that lead to developing your sense of self, as well as the understanding that other people have their own beliefs and desires. So looking in the mirror and seeing a face
that’s not your own might be more than just creepy. It might actually cause a bit of an identity
crisis for a second there. What psychologists can’t explain is why
we see monsters. Weird, creepy, Bloody Marys? Sure. But these ideas don’t fully explain why
we see non-human faces. It’s one of those psychological mysteries
that, when solved, could teach us a lot more about how our brains
work. So if you’re getting chills looking at your
reflection, just turn on the lights and maybe don’t
look quite so long at yourself in the mirror. It’s not actually a monster. Pinky swear. Alright, SciShow Psych viewers, I got an EXCITING
ANNOUNCEMENT for you! Some of the SciShow team and I were talking
about a problem that we often have. People will ask us, “what do you want for
Christmas or your birthday?” and then we feel kind of bad for not having
a good answer to that question. But then I was thinking, there are some things
that I’ve gotten for myself or that I want or that people have gotten
for me that I really love! Because it’s symbolic of my love of the
world, or lets me do experiments on myself or it
lets me learn more about things! So we have put together a collection of artifacts
of this universe … we got a limited number of each of these things, and we have put them up at a store called
SciShow Finds. These SciShow Finds are curated by me, they are things that I would love to
get in my stocking. We’re going to continue adding new finds as we find
them throughout the year, and the new ones will replace these old ones, so all of these products are only around for
a limited time. You’re bound to have friends or family who
would love these Mars Socks, trilobite fossils, or this Space Shuttle lapel
pin. And, if not, maybe you want to get them for
yourself or just shoot that link over to anyone who
asks you what you want for Christmas and say, “You know, anything
from this site would be really cool. Mom was probably going to get you socks anyway, now she’s gonna get you some socks you’re really
gonna like. And know that when you buy from SciShowFinds.com, or you send that link to somebody, you’re
also supporting SciShow. So, thanks for doing that. And thanks for watching because that’s another
way to support us. [OUTRO ♪]

100 Comments

  • Graceo Cakeo

    April 21, 2019

    Stare into a dimly lit mirror…
    Ah! Its Hank!

    Reply
  • Japonicamay

    April 22, 2019

    This guy just told me I can't feel my shirt on my skin and it's really bugging me

    Reply
  • Gamesux

    April 25, 2019

    If you stare into a mirror long enough, a man will appear, and he will use his little ghost friend to pull you into the mirror. true story.

    Reply
  • Human Child

    April 28, 2019

    Bad idea to watch this at 5 in the morning can’t sleep now

    Reply
  • Adam Bettinger

    May 2, 2019

    Put a mirror, with no frame, flat against a wall, near a corner, about a half inch or so away from the corner's edge. Now smash your face flat against it and get your view towards the corner as level as you can with the mirror. Now slowly tilt mirror outward until you see around the corner…..

    Reply
  • Abeyahsherif Sherif

    May 3, 2019

    YOU are crazy

    Reply
  • There_are_no_gods_here

    May 6, 2019

    * Mirror is literally made to stare at it *

    People: * Makes youtube video why not to stare at mirrors *

    Mirrors: Am I a joke to you

    Reply
  • Trapped Inside A Figure 8

    May 7, 2019

    Aren't mirrors portals? What if you are seeing your demons?! Yikes!!!!

    Reply
  • Luke Hermann

    June 5, 2019

    Thank god i thought i was stuck on acid lmao

    Reply
  • Jadyn Wright

    June 8, 2019

    Gestalt is a German word…

    Reply
  • Aldersgate Prayer and Praise

    June 13, 2019

    I tried this and nothing happened

    Reply
  • Manny War Awakening to The Spirit

    June 15, 2019

    I fought two demons in thr mirror once, we had a stand off then a faceless man pulled me into mirror. Next thing i remember is waking up two days lster.

    Reply
  • miss meowYT

    June 25, 2019

    I did it my face changed in something I can't get out from my head my face was creepy I was somehow smiling but I didn't

    Reply
  • THEPLANETEARTH

    June 30, 2019

    DO NOT DO THIS! i did it and DONT DO IT AGAIN

    Reply
  • It’sMe Ava

    July 3, 2019

    My friends heard of this, and said if you see a normal person it’s the person you used to be before they died, and you reincarnate into the person you are today. Sooo idk. I don’t think that’s true lol

    Reply
  • Fortnite Epic

    July 6, 2019

    Now I cant look at the mirror when Im at the bathroom, Thank you!

    Reply
  • Raccoons lay Eggs

    July 6, 2019

    I see things out of the corners of my eyes, when I look at them, they go away.

    Reply
  • RobloxKid999

    July 6, 2019

    There is even a game on roblox based on that phenomena

    Reply
  • SpillificSpiller

    July 6, 2019

    And that's why I'm absolutely terrified of mirrors

    Reply
  • vLunarv

    July 7, 2019

    so the troxler effect is why i can see through my hand or walls sometimes… hmmmmm

    Reply
  • Theresa Bullets

    July 7, 2019

    I’m tô scared for that just gonna look at my camera on selfie mode :’)

    Reply
  • ChadReduxGaming

    July 7, 2019

    I Thought i was having hallucination but it was real.

    Reply
  • Kevin Martin

    July 7, 2019

    When I looked in the mirror with dimmed lights I saw a pitch black version of me with white eyes

    Reply
  • Chara

    July 7, 2019

    my question is this: is it possible to have a heart attack because you stare at the mirror see something scary coming to kill you (in the mirror) and you dont look away. i that a possibility
    i got that question from watching this video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76GefuVjDr8
    its just a game so dont be scared to watch it
    its roblox

    Reply
  • Nipaho

    July 7, 2019

    Okay i'm too scared to go to the bathroom now…

    Reply
  • JackPullds

    July 7, 2019

    Umm I tried staring in the mirror and I saw another me but darker

    Reply
  • Glitched Blox

    July 8, 2019

    I'll never want to see my reflection on a mirror alone again.

    Reply
  • kevin byrne

    July 8, 2019

    Ohhhh so that is why I thought I saw bloody Mary, stared too long haha

    Reply
  • AnthoStars

    July 9, 2019

    Roblox ?

    Reply
  • Triangle Jerry

    July 9, 2019

    I tried…

    My eyes twitched and the experiment lasted for 30 seconds.

    Reply
  • TC Lapos

    July 9, 2019

    i saw a monster

    Reply
  • Exliptic

    July 9, 2019

    who came here from the roblox game "the mirror?" recommend it heres the link: https://www.roblox.com/games/3392833725/The-Mirror#!/game-instances

    Reply
  • lucas rocha

    July 9, 2019

    i tested it and it was real im scared right now

    Reply
  • N4im 23

    July 10, 2019

    Woah I ain't gonna do it since I will get fits straight away

    Reply
  • Jan Plays Roblox and more!

    July 10, 2019

    I just was staring at it in a VERY DARK room and then the mirror started being brighter, brighter…i kinda got scared and shaked and felt stress and my face was HELLA WEIRD not ugly but just…evily strange? and then i started feeling too scared and turned on the lights and was like "screw this"

    Reply
  • FireArcher SUB TO PEWDIEPIE UNSUB FROM TSERIES

    July 10, 2019

    is this safe or can it mentally hurt you

    Reply
  • Masked Gamer

    July 11, 2019

    This is a psychological experiment theres a game about it.

    Reply
  • The Gacha Darkening

    July 12, 2019

    My family are Buddhists. So if we do Bloody Mary, or anything haunted or something… Yeah no it won't work. Though, this experiment will work.

    Reply
  • i forgot my damn name

    July 12, 2019

    Imagine seeing an animal instead of yourself.
    This could possibly be your "Fursona"

    Reply
  • Yosh Boi

    July 12, 2019

    Roblox

    Reply
  • Marie Lherisson

    July 13, 2019

    Guys do this but in the roblox game "The mirror" Its just like this but in roblox

    Reply
  • Renzo Pabia

    July 14, 2019

    Do I live video of people staring at a mirror in a dark room

    Reply
  • mazlan mahadzir

    July 14, 2019

    you saw monsters in a burnt sand with tree meat or plastic with mirror collided.

    Reply
  • MrFan

    July 14, 2019

    The worst monster that ive seen in my mirror is Mom is standing in the back of me

    Reply
  • josh miranda

    July 14, 2019

    I did this high accidently and freaked my self out

    Reply
  • Abby Bee

    July 15, 2019

    I just tried this and it’s true I saw a person beside me and then my face looked smaller XD

    Reply
  • MineWit

    July 15, 2019

    when sometimes i look in the mirror, standing there, doing nothing and just staring at it, it makes my head turn around like it's about to crack and get killed (that's 30 seconds staring) then the next minute staring i see, A MONSTER literally behind me, SMILLING, and i almost had a heart attack, okay just kidding but it did happen, and i was scared out the crap of my freaking sould god damn it

    Reply
  • Uncovered Gaming

    July 15, 2019

    Who came from the roblox game

    Reply
  • Constanza González Carrasco

    July 15, 2019

    me:*sees thumbnail picture*
    me again: oh no i dont want sans to appear in my bathroom

    Reply
  • Ekaterina

    July 16, 2019

    How can you see anything in a dark room?

    Reply
  • Owlypups UwU

    July 17, 2019

    2019? I bet ur from Roblox 😏👌

    Reply
  • Poyo !!

    July 17, 2019

    Whos here because of the roblox game the mirror

    Reply
  • Olawff

    July 17, 2019

    Am I the only one who just watched this because of the mirror in roblox?

    Reply
  • TeaTube

    July 18, 2019

    I hear someone in my garden wtf

    Reply
  • The Holy D-Boi

    July 18, 2019

    It's called myocardial infarction.

    Reply
  • Rubex Cub3

    July 18, 2019

    I never knew this was real. Except if you were doing the Bloody Mary Challenge!

    Reply
  • Tixo Delta

    July 20, 2019

    guess im the only one who was curious about the phenomena stated in the roblox game 'The Mirror'.

    Reply
  • Alisha P.

    July 22, 2019

    Only some people have it? Because I look in the mirror a lot to do things and nothing happens, even if it’s ten minutes.

    Reply
  • Duolingo Owl

    July 25, 2019

    When I wear glasses for a long time and take them off, it feels like they are still there

    Reply
  • SQUEAKERS the mouse

    August 2, 2019

    All I saw was my eyes turning black.. And my body started getting goose bumps.. Like, I felt a "presence" by me…

    Reply
  • Larisa Nicolae

    August 3, 2019

    Eine gestalt huh?

    Reply
  • TheKickedOut.Kid

    August 6, 2019

    What I seen was a grey faced man, similar to myself but with little hairs all over my face and the face was stretched then my mouth formed a smile… The scary thing was I was never smiling to begin with😬😵

    Reply
  • Ebola Chan

    August 6, 2019

    Yes, everytime I look in the Mirror I see an ugly Monster, but the Monster stands right in front of the mirror, no science needed to conclude5 that

    Reply
  • Julian Murray

    August 7, 2019

    Woeoeoooee

    Reply
  • pookie pie

    August 8, 2019

    Why would your brain 'trick' you only into scary things? You people want to deny the spiritual sooo bad

    Reply
  • upsetchair

    August 9, 2019

    The whole right side of my room is a mirror, I’m not joking the wall is just a mirror this would be so good if I do it

    Reply
  • Booger edits

    August 9, 2019

    My mouth disappeared but that was all

    Reply
  • EnFriqe

    August 10, 2019

    Is it just me or do the monsters not disappear when I look away from the mirror?

    Reply
  • K. K

    August 10, 2019

    I already avoided mirrors at all costs but nie I have an additional reasonable to so so

    Reply
  • E

    August 11, 2019

    I wanna do this but I’m scared of the dark ;-;

    Reply
  • sexobscura

    August 14, 2019

    the Dasein in this video is Ontologically Insecure

    Reply
  • Ethanw04

    August 14, 2019

    I did this but my body kept flashing black then back to me.
    Does that mean I'm empty on the inside?

    Reply
  • Grant MacLeod

    August 16, 2019

    What's the name of this psychological phenomenon? Like the "x" effect?

    Reply
  • Fuz Beatboxer n

    August 16, 2019

    That is your inner self

    Reply
  • Anony mous

    August 16, 2019

    Tomorrow ima make a meme vid about me staring into the mirror

    Reply
  • Nevermore 721

    August 17, 2019

    I managed to blend in with my door like predator.

    Reply
  • FishyDeku

    August 18, 2019

    the only monster i see is me

    Reply
  • Sinister Sweet

    August 18, 2019

    When I hear talk about shadow people I know it's not real… because if they were, I'd have to deal with the shadows I see in the mirror being real, too.

    Reply
  • Edgar Tranquilino

    August 20, 2019

    When I was looking at a mirror,

    I saw peppa

    Reply
  • James McGill

    August 26, 2019

    I did this and my head just disappeared

    Reply
  • Poop Head

    August 28, 2019

    Sometimes when i stare at like a wall with something infront of it the object infront just fades and i can see through it

    Reply
  • Scar the wolves Spare

    August 30, 2019

    I saw a weird brown tall wolf that seemed to be the same size as me with yellow eyes, I looked away like "Wth" then went to bed

    Reply
  • Dangerousgrenade

    September 1, 2019

    lucky me i have 2 giant ass mirrors in my bedroom

    Reply
  • Zergzesmc

    September 2, 2019

    This is why im scared at mirrors

    Reply
  • GsoriaHD

    September 4, 2019

    Okay so I think I have a problem. I probably look in the mirror almost every second of the day I spend most of my time in the bathroom looking at my self I think I’m ugly asf

    Reply
  • MJ 2 DUMB

    September 4, 2019

    I did this and It was as if my eyes had became dim with lack of light and my reflection was gone and my face merged like my eyes were droopy no monsters or any of that nonsense that try to scare you with

    Reply
  • iNeoCats

    September 5, 2019

    I actually just happened to stare into the mirror for like a minute, and my face started to distort and twist i started to freak out, And i did it with the lights on not off, i cant imagine what would happen if i have the lights off

    Reply
  • Daniela Herm

    September 5, 2019

    Guy in the video: explains creppy mirror things

    Me: I DONT NEED SLEEP I NEED ANSWERS

    Reply
  • John Inthasuwan

    September 7, 2019

    It also works when you stare at someone else's face in a dimly lit room.

    Reply
  • Sugar Frenchie

    September 15, 2019

    My face starts to deform and then I look like a snap chat filter for me it's hilarious

    Reply
  • Tay Ande

    September 25, 2019

    I tried this experiment in my school. The lights in the school shut off. So in the bathroom, it was pretty dark. I had this pocket on the inside of my jacket, so I turned my phone on, and put it in there, then wore only one side of my jacket, so the light pointed behind me. The light kinda reflected back, so I could see what I was doing, but I heard of this experiment through a mini horrer game, so I decided to try it after I was done using the bathroom. I looked in the mirror, and could see my silloute, and could barely see my face. I looked at my eyes. I thought to myself, "Hmm… My right eye seems to look like it's drifting off…" Now I don't have a lazy eye, so I thought this was kind of cool. That all changed when I saw my eyes roll back into my head. I ran out of the bathroom. Thinking about it gives me chills. Even though the school was dim due to having no power, several people asked me if I was ok since the color drained from my face. I think I have a fear of mirrors in dark rooms now.

    Reply
  • ItzGedi

    September 29, 2019

    huh I might try this mirror thing…
    Okay goodbye guys! I hope I don't die tonight!

    Reply
  • Vivian’s Life

    September 30, 2019

    WAT I don’t we monsters in my mirrors

    Reply
  • 팔슈름야거

    October 2, 2019

    The Monster i see is me waking up in the monday morning and looking at the mirror

    Reply
  • Psychedelic Kitten

    October 5, 2019

    I did this except I went really close to the mirror and stared between my eyes, they got bigger and closer together almost morphing into one big eye, I looked like some kind of weird alien 😹😹

    Reply
  • Wisp Bug

    October 6, 2019

    All I saw was myself maybe I did it wrong

    Reply
  • Sotp

    October 8, 2019

    I wonder what my "person in the mirror" will be.

    Reply
  • Charles Gurovitch

    October 9, 2019

    In Soviet Russia, mirror stares at you.

    Reply
  • blizzard the omega wolf

    October 10, 2019

    Who needs a mirrior i have the shadpws and demons, and faces under the bed in the room downstairs when i look down from up the stairs

    Reply
  • Cla Fixto

    October 10, 2019

    When I was doing this (I did this before watching the video, I'm watching this now for answers) but my face was distoreted and then i saw faces i dont know how to describe, then I realized my body was bending over, and i wasn't doing this on purpose I almost fell over. It is really freaky. Your body starts leaning without you realizing. Tell me if this happened to you, im curious, and why does this happen?

    Reply

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