I have a hypothesis that "Crazy Eyes" is a real thing.

We know that a person's eyes can reveal certain types of emotions. For example, your pupils will widen when you look at someone you love.  That's why attraction is so hard to hide. I've spent the past few decades observing people's eyes to see if they reveal other secrets as well.  One thing stands out.

I have a hypothesis that you can detect in a person's eyes when they have a preference for imagination over direct observation. Let's call that look Crazy Eyes because it can be unsettling to the third-party observer. With Crazy Eyes, I think the brain is accessing the imagination instead of the rational part of the brain, and it causes the eyes to have a sort of glassy, unblinking, dreamy, scary look. At least that's how it looks to me.

I was noticing this again recently as I watched a news program about religious activists who were organizing their lives around a worldview that needs to be imagined because it can't be directly observed. Their eyes had a spooky, dreamy look when they spoke of their plans, as if they were accessing their imaginations instead of whatever part of the brain does math.  I'm not saying their worldview is wrong. I'm only saying that objective evidence in support of their worldview can't be directly observed, so imagination necessarily has an important role in their daily lives, and their eyes showed it. They had Crazy Eyes.

Suppose you did a study where you took one group of religious people and one group of skeptics and filmed each of them speaking about whatever is important to them. Then you cropped out everything but the eyes and showed the films to a group of volunteer subjects. Could the volunteers distinguish the skeptics from the believers just by their eyes?  I think they could, at least more than chance would predict.

I thought of this topic because the other day while working out in the gym I was having an exceptionally good hypomanic creative flood.  It was wonderful. One good idea after another was popping into my head. I stopped to use the restroom, and when I was washing my hands I looked in the mirror and noticed that I had Crazy Eyes. I was so deep in my imagination that my eyes looked different even to me.  It was jarring.

My point is that I'm glad I work alone, and I totally understand why my cat won't give me eye contact.
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Nov 2, 2010
NERD ALERT! (Self-serving knowledge hemorrhaging ahead)

Scott - There is actually a proven correlation between eye position and information processing. Eye cues tell what representational system is being accessed in the brain. Typically for a right handed person eyes up and to the right is visual remembered. (That's your right, as it's assumed in order to see a persons eye position you must be facing them and they facing you, so for them it would be up and to the left) Eyes up and to the left is visual construct. Eyes mid-level and to the right is auditory remembered, mid-level and to the left is auditory construct, down and to the right is auditory digital, down and to the left is kinesthetic. It's usually reversed for left handed people.

To figure out how someone is wired, prior to telling them about the eye accessing patterns, walk them through a visual memory (movie they saw, picture) then walk them through an auditory memory (mother's voice, children's laughter, song) then walk them through a kinesthetic memory (petting a dog, feel of fabric, sun or wind on skin) then walk them through a visual construct (think of an elephant, tell me when you've got one, okay now imagine it's pink with purple polka dots).

Remember that everyone has a main representational system they hang out in primarily so you will most likely get lots of very fast eye cues, quick darts up, down, left right. For example: a kinesthetic person may look down and to the left first when you ask them to think of their mother's voice, to access the feeling of the memory of their mother, before they quickly visit the auditory. Also a lot of the processing is subconscious and happens below the level of their awareness.

Anyway there's obviously a lot more cues, but this comment is quickly reaching an obnoxious length. The point is I think there's a relation here between eye access patterns and "crazy eyes." It seems to me that most likely the person is referencing their representational systems & various associations instead of the actual sensory input currently around them. They have "forgotten" that the map is not the territory. For instance, instead of hearing the words you said they access the feelings they associate with the concepts they interpreted your words as pointing to or the images of memories your voice triggered (heck they could even be accessing associations to a smell they're not even aware they're experiencing), then they respond to those images/feelings/associations instead of to your words, i.e. referencing their "imagination over direct observation."

I realize you probably already know this as it's basic NLP (such a close cousin of hypnosis) and I'm aware your blog post is for entertainment only, making this comment seem slightly out of the spirit of things.

Just furthering my enjoyment of the post, I suppose, by nerding out and contributing to the para-social relationship.

See ya sucker!

Jonni La Force
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 1, 2010
For further testing: "Crazy Eyes" seems to shift your mental state!

I've noticed that if I can manage to adopt "crazy eyes" for a considerable period, sometimes it kicks in and pushes me into high-creativity mental state. It seems to be akin to the "frowning makes you angry" phenomenon.

Even better than widening eyes is to walk outdoors with fixed gaze at the horizon, while "staring" at objects all throughout your peripheral vision. You put yourself into the Omnimax Steady-cam visual world. Then you don't have to attempt to think outside the box, since you *are* outside the box. So just start jabbering ideas into your mp3 recorder and watch oncoming pedestrians cross the street to avoid you.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 1, 2010
WHICH kind of Crazy Eyes?

While I'm working for long periods under poly sleep schedule, and getting into that hypomanic idea-spewing region, I'll scare myself by looking in the mirror: my eyes are WIDE, with eyelids not touching iris. Crap, is that how I really look to everyone? Yep. But my eyes feel normal at the time, if a bit cold.

If I force them to look like a normal person's eyes, they feel warm and half-closed as if I'm sleepy. That's it! In high creativity "flow mode," I'm really really awake and I'm embedded in my entire peripheral visual field and not just staring narrowly with central vision. Perhaps it's akin to looking frightened. In order to detect approaching dangers, fear makes us pull our eyelids back so they don't block peripheral vision as much. You don't necessarily roll your eyes, but when your eyelids are so wide open, any glancing to the side exposes the whites of your eyes. VERY noticeable to onlookers. (So then when I go out in public, I have to make sure to intentionally squint and pretend to look sleepy!)

Sheer speculation: ancient tribes might survive better if their members evolved to display certain unconscious instinctual facial expressions. The look of feverish sickness says "stay away, infection danger." But the wide-eyed crazed/fearful expression also gives the community warning to back off and avoid unexpected behavior. The facial sign would evolve, but also our sensitivity to those signs would increase. Rolling eye-whites look "scary," but at the same time the scary people unconsciously display the wide-eyes look. When I've put myself into an extreme creative state, I'll notice that my eyes feel cold w/wide open lids exposing more eye surface. Nowdays I always notice this and think to myself "Yep, automatic tribal member craziness-warning system been triggered."

Imagine what might happen if ancient heavily-armed and mentally unstable humans DIDN'T display any signs that they'd consumed alkaloid plants or mushrooms or alcohol. ...or had just gone without any sleep for two weeks!
Oct 27, 2010
Sounds like the start of a crime show we have on TV over here. Tatort.

Here's a pic of the opener:
Oct 26, 2010
This is the real reason why I wear sunglasses.
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Oct 26, 2010
True story. Years ago I owned a retail business. One afternoon my wife sent an office coworker over to do business with me. Her coworker didn't say or do anything partiularly odd and she was fairly attractive and ultimately made a purchase. Afterward, I called my wife and I cheekily stated, "She made a purchase but she's got crazy eyes next time send me somone normal!" Shockingly and tragically my assumption into her mental state proved all too accurate. A few months later my wife's now ex-coworker made the papers because in an out-of-state police standoff she and her boyfriend stabbed her nine year old daughter to death. She is now rotting in prison and the boyfriend comitted suicide while in jail. Needless to say, I'm a big believer in the concept of Crazy Eyes defining a person as, well, crazy.
Oct 26, 2010

I know just what you mean. The real trick is getting away clean since those kind of women can become stalkers! I found the best way was to do something bad enough to make her lose interest without making her mad enough to murder you in your sleep.
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 26, 2010
The Moth seeks the Flame...

Back in my young single days, I sought out the women with the Crazy Eyes. It was some kind of game of auto-erotic chicken to dance on the edge (2-3 weeks of rocking your world) then to get away before you were caught in the blast-zone of Crazy, because it always happened.

Since married a best-of both-worlds woman, passion with a sense of time & place appropriateness. Money doesn't buy this kind of perfect balance.

I think you're describing Unbalanced/Concentrated Passion, and all the great/scary things that can come from it.

Viva le Muse!

Oct 26, 2010
And Dogbert is starring, too.
Oct 26, 2010
And another cool piece of lovely craziness and insanity.

Mad eyes @ 1:00, insanity confession shortly thereafter. So everyone can have a go if they would have spotted the craziness ;o)


I love Neil Hannon. Like.
(Divine Comedy - I Like)
Oct 25, 2010

I found a comment in your earlier Social Network blog entry and I loved it.

It does actually fit quite well the "crazy eyes". Besides, it's a hilarious video about old flames on Facebook. Laughed till I cried. When you make it past the first tearful 50sec (but they're part of the storyline). you will be rewarded with some good laughs. Thanks @ quadruples

Her mad smile is at 1:37. And I adore how she sarcastically adds a belated "Again..." at 2:45 after stating "and I certainly don't want you poooooking me".

LOL... There's gotta be a reason for the 1.2 million views thus far.
Oct 25, 2010
OK, that explains it....
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Oct 25, 2010
Charles Manson
David Bowie
Oct 25, 2010
Serial killer Karla Homolka and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper both have dead looking shark eyes.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 25, 2010
I find eyes to be such a captivating body part. One time in college, after going to the bathroom, I stood washing my hands and I looked into the mirror over the sink and noticed, seemingly for the first time, my own eyes. I held my head still and gazed through the mirror into the depth of my own eyes as they flinched slightly left, then slight right as I focused on first one pupil, then the other. And for 20 mintues, water running over my frozen hands, my eyes darted back and forth; and yet they remained utterly constant, eternal--perfect orbs of concentric circles betyraying the soul behind the flesh. Then I realized I was high, turned off the faucet, went back to my dormroom and watched 8 straight hours of Doug with my roommate.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 25, 2010
I always call it unseeing eyes. I have it alot I know, all though I've never noticed it on myself. My friends call me on it. I'm in another place in my head. Which by the way is much nicer than the real world. So its no wonder I prefer it.
However that being said, I'm a skeptic.
So when you do the crazy eye test with skeptics and believers I'm not sure you could distinguish. For example, I am very interested in the various myths and I invariably create visual images of them in my head. So I might look just like the believer.
Oct 25, 2010
I get crazy eyes when I think about that stupid high fructose corn syrup commercial.
(Hand raised violently) "Ask me! I know the difference!"
Oct 25, 2010
I get crazy eyes when I think about delicious mangosteens.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 25, 2010
This needs to be setup in a judgmental website where people rate the craziness of eyes. A derivative that crops Hot or Not photos to just the eyes is what I imagine. After a rating has been given, they would be shown the whole face and the overall rankings. After the site has run long enough craziness levels would be statistically measured. You could sell the algorithm to companies supplying facial recognition services to the government, effectively winning the war on terror. OK, who has done this already?
Oct 25, 2010
Cat's eyes always give me the creeps. The irises shine in a funny manner, and the pupils are vertical slits of a form not found in any other species. It seems like a good thing to me if your cat won't make eye contact.
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