Testing the Ganzfeld Effect

Through my toiling away on YouTube this past week I came across a video from a channel that I have a great deal of respect for with a title claiming a process that one can hallucinate without the use of drugs.  This grabbed me as I’ve been curious about the hallucinogenic effects some drugs can have but don’t want to actually partake in said drugs.  Be proud mom and dad.  The phenomenon is known as the Ganzfeld Effect.  I won’t get into the history of the experiments done around this phenomenon as that’s not the point of this article.  You can do your own research on that.

In essence the experiment is a form of sensory deprivation and it causes your brain’s natural urge to create patterns to start to make patterns when it can not find them.  The amazing thing about this experiment is that you can do it in the comfort of your own home and can stop it at any time that you like.  You don’t have to worry about the trip working it’s way through your system if you don’t like it, you can simply take off your mask and it’s over.  Reality re-established.

So here is what you will need:

  • Plain, ordinary printer paper.  It doesn’t need to be a heavy cardstock, and this is actually discouraged.
  • A head band or a few rubber bands and some staples.
  • Cotton balls are optional.
  • Noise canceling headphones or good earbuds.
  • A computer or phone.
  • 30 minutes of quiet time.

First I took the paper and cut out an oversized sunglasses shape.  Just think of something a Kardashian would wear.  I have a thin headband that I put over the top part of the paper to hold it as it covers my eyes.  This is where you can use rubber bands or staples.  Lay down and see if the paper is covering all of your peripheral vision.  If not, this is where the cotton balls come in.  Use these to cover any areas where you can see out of when laying down.  You can glue or tape them onto the mask to keep them in place.

Now you might ask why can’t you just use a sleep mask or anything else that covers your eyes.  Color is said to be very important in this experiment and white is the color we need.  Sleep masks tend to be black or dark colors which promote your body to go to sleep while lighter colors encourage it to stay awake.

Once you have your cool shades done be sure that where you are conducting the experiment is going to be quiet.  Tell roommates, spouses, kids, shady pets and neighbors and whoever else to get out of the house.  Tell them it’s for science.  Turn your A/C off so that it doesn’t kick on and cause noise.  Set your phone to silent, not vibrate, so that it will not cause any noise or disturbance.  After that find some white or pink noise on YouTube, there’s tons.  I opted for a standard TV like static.  Make sure you have lights on in the room, pop on your headphones, turn on the noise and lay back, relax and just look at the white of the paper for around 30 minutes.

The aforementioned video that I talked about showed the people get up from their experiment and just appear in total awe.  They spoke of visions that they saw and noises that they heard that began in as little as 90 seconds of starting.  They mentioned crazy colors, shapes, eyes, creepy faces, windows and elaborate scenes.  Did I experience this?  Yes and no.

Firstly it took much longer for me to feel like I was beginning to see anything.  Since I couldn’t see a clock I would guess around 10-15 minutes.  I believe I was maybe too excited to where I couldn’t get totally relaxed.

Next, I was getting rather tired at the start.  I struggled to keep my eyes open as I could feel myself nodding off a few times.  But after one particular moment, where I know my eyes were closed for a slightly longer period of time, I opened my eyes to something different.  The white of the paper was a sandy tan color.  At this point I was no longer feeling the urge to fall asleep.

Next I began to see colors.  Greens and blues began sweeping through but in no distinct shapes or patterns.  A few moments later I began to see faint shapes.  I saw a few eyes that appeared to come in and out of focus all over my horizon of view.  After the eyes I began noticing sharp objects jutting up from the bottom almost in a pattern that resembled a well executed wave at a sporting event.  Through all of this none of the shapes were in total focus, they were faded and dull.  Eventually the sharp objects formed a circular shape, almost like a pinwheel, and they began moving in a counter-clockwise motion.  It was around this time that the music ended and my 30 minutes had ended.

I took off my blinders and I thought back to when I was preparing for this experiment.  I was anticipating myself jumping up in amazement.  I would be so enthralled by what I just saw I would want to begin writing immediately so that I remembered it all.  I had a Notepad window open on my computer for just such a moment but that just didn’t happen.

Yes, I’ve never dropped acid or taken any other drug that causes you to trip balls, as the kids would say.  So I honestly don’t know what tripping or hallucinating is actually like.  I mean I’ve had some very vivid dreams that I could swear were real even in my first minutes of waking up.  None of this was anything that caused me to have an experience that resembles what people explain from tripping or even those that have done this experiment.

I’ll likely give the experiment another go at some point just to be sure.  There are some people that have much higher thresholds to these sorts of effects and maybe I am one of them.  As I mentioned it was probably about halfway through before I saw anything out of the ordinary.  Maybe I have to wait longer.  We shall see.

If you decide to give this experiment a go please comment below about your results and experience.  I’m really interested to see what other see and feel.



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