There was a theory put forward by a group of psychologists many years ago that suggests that we view ourselves as ten times more attractive than we actually are. Another group stated that what we see ourselves as is completely different to what others see when they look at us, and if we saw ourselves the way others see us, we wouldn’t recognise ourselves at all. Ordinary people have always wondered if there truly is a way to see ourselves the way others see us. Unbeknownst to them, there is.

It began in 1961, after a researcher by the name of Vincenzo Banduros published research on how aggression can be transmuted through imitating another person’s behaviour. The study credited Banduros et al. (meaning ‘and others’) as authors, but all of the research was actually conducted by Vincenzo Banduros himself. Both the name and the intent of the study were completely different to the actual experiment, a cover-up for shady goings-on. The real experiment was much more sinister. A similar study to that of the fake one had taken place in 1959, and all record of that was erased. Banduros wanted to keep his research and keep it hidden, so he put it under a different guise and name to its true purpose. Banduros falsified methods, results, analysis and invented fake people to sign non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements. To any investigative Psychological body or any curious individual, it would seem like any other experiment carried out across the country, with not a hint of foul play involved.

The experiment was conducted with five groups of three participants. They were put in ordinary bedrooms and instructed to stay there for the duration of the experiment. The experiment was set to take place over a period of two weeks and the rooms contained many novels, sketchpads and other individual based activities to keep the participants occupied. The one restriction was that they were prevented from doing anything that involved direct or indirect contact with another person, as the participants were told that the experiment was to test the effects of isolation on creativity. They were unable to talk to one another and soactivities such as online video games were prohibited. Two of the participants were instructed that they had to look into a mirror, directly into their own eyes for at least one hour a day. One of them was told to keep direct eye contact with his reflection, while the other was told to focus completely on only one of his eyes. The third was not told to do anything of the sort and was used as a control. The first two participants of each group were told by Banduros that this was meant to impose literal self-reflection on them to see if it caused any marked change in creative levels. All participants were white, male, in their late twenties and without any history of mental disorders illnesses. The participants were monitored remotely by Banduros through cameras in the bedrooms, and so the experiment was to begin.

Everything progressed relatively normally with the participants peacefully writing, painting, reading and exercising in their rooms for around 14 hours per day, with an average of 9 hours slept each night and the requisite one hour of staring into the mirror from the first two participants. That was until the third day. When Banduros went to check on the monitors after coming back from a cigarette break, the first of the participants was staring directly at the mirror, despite having completed his hour earlier that day. When Banduros attempted to tell the participant to step away from the mirror, the participant immediately began screaming and clawing at his right eye. Deep, guttural shrieking erupted from the mans lungs, filling the compound with an unholy cacophany of screams. He dug his fingernails deep into the flesh around his eye as if it wasn’t there, thick streams of blood pouring down the right side of his face, all the while screaming about how Banduros had made him do this to himself. Though the man screamed and screamed words were just distinguishable:

“You did this! I did this! Get out from behind me! What the fuck are you? You made me do this, you mother fucker! Look at my eye! Give me back my eye!

The man fell to the ground, weeping and sobbing uncontrollably, begging for the return of his eye. Banduros, panicked, sprinted to the participant's room and flung open the heavy door. He spoke softly to the man, gently asking him questions and assurring him that he was safe, that no further harm would become of him. The man continued to weep, begging for his eye back and seeming to ignore that Banduros was even there; when he reponded it was never a fully adequate answer to a question Banduros asked, as if he were speaking to someone else and Banduros' questions just happened to talk over the other person's on occasion.

It would be reasonable to assume that the experiment would be shut down after an event such as this, the direct harming of a participant is enough to cause serious consequences for any researcher, but this was just the tip of the iceberg for Banduros. He'd sought these results from the very beginning, hence why he concocted such an elaborate cover-up for the whole experiment. One would hope that man's conscience and rational sense of right and wrong would prevail in times like these, but hunger and desire for answers can make a man do the unspeakable.  Only a select few people in the world know this, but Banduros dismissed the other four groups of participants early and Banduros’ experiment continued and gained a result behind closed doors.  He claimed he would shut down the investigation to the few staff that helped him set up and run it but after dismissing them, he returned to his experiments.

What followed was a series of truly disturbing, malicious and sinister experiments on the participant who claimed to have lost his eye. The experiments themselves are almost completely shrouded in mystery, as Banduros did an exceptional job of covering it up so the experiment seemed to never have existed, but a small amount of people know what he did and pieces of what he found out. He kept the three remaining participants in the compound for two months, instructing them to continue as he had initially ordered while he conducted torturous individual experiments on the first participant, driving the man to near insanity; not an hour went by without hearing Banduros shouting in rage or frustration, taking to the man with medical implements and tools or pacing around the compound, muttering angry things under his breath. This was underscored by the constant stream of sound that came from the man. He didn't sleep, all he did was scream when Banduros came at him and weep in anguish when he was away. He was only close to silent for one hour each day, when his crying would become muted and muffled but the second the hour ended the volume would return.

This continued for two months until Banduros deemed himself satisfied and shut down the experiment. He evicted all three remaining participants from their rooms early one morning by unlocking all their doors and playing a prerecorded message over a loudspeaker, but he was nowhere to be found and neither was the bulk of his research. What he found out was that it is possible for one to see themselves as others see them. After intense subjugation, the participant was able to perceive himself as others do, to see themselves as they truly are. The first participant committed suicide soon after and the second’s whereabouts are currently unknown, as are Banduros’.

I am the only person left who knows the extent of the torture Banduros put the first participant through. I am also the only person who knows how to recreate the experience the participant was forced to put himself through each day. This is how you can do it.

All you need is a room with a closable door and a mirror. Make sure no one will come into the room. The only other thing that is necessary is for you to look into the mirror at your own reflection. Focus on your left eye (in the mirror) and stare. Just stare. You will lose the urge to blink. Just keep staring. Things may begin to distort near the bottom of the mirror. Staring. The room around you will blur delicately. Just keep staring. Your eyes will start to lose colour and become a dull, lifeless grey. Keep Staring. Your face may begin to distort slightly just as the room did. Just keep staring. Your right eye will seem to disappear from your face, just fading. And staring. Other parts of your face may warp or vanish. And staring. Your left eye will shrink and grow and eventually disappear as well. Maintain your stare. Things may fly off your shelves or spontaneously break. It is not actually happening. Keep staring. Your whole face will dissolve and fizzle as though enveloped in volcanic ash. Keep staring. Ignore the fact that the space your face occupied in the mirror has now ceased to exist and become negative. Continue to stare at the spot where your eye was. Don’t break the stare. Ignore the figure emerging from behind you in the mirror. Ignore its phantom existence. It will become clearer as time progresses. Ignore it until it is fully grown and with form.

There is one more step, one final step to realising the potential, your potential, to no longer seeing your own reflection when you look in a mirror, to see the figure in the background instead, as this is how you truly are, how the rest of the world sees you.

Banduros' was secretive and dedicated, but even he couldn't resist exclaiming in excitement every now and then what he discovered, and picking up on his maddened ramblings offered significant insight. As the only confirmed survivor of the experiment, I apologise that I am unable to provide the final steps to achieve what my unfortunate fellow man had to go through, as I said I could only catch snippets here and there.

Still, I hope I've provided enough of what I heard to satiate your curiosity but, if you insist on trying it for yourself, I imagine the next step would ask you to just. Keep. Staring.

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