Bizzare & Odd

Possession by unclean entities or mental illness? Scientists have described what a man sees when he perceives people as demons

Some people see disturbing, distorted demons in the faces of others, all because of a strange disease. This condition is called prosopometamorphopsia (PMO) and it causes people to perceive other people’s faces as having altered shapes, colors, sizes and positions of facial features.

Now, in a new paper in The Lancet, researchers have revealed what people with PMO see when they look at others. This is the first paper to present photorealistic images of facial distortions observed by people with PMO.

Prosopometamorphopsia (from the Greek prosopon – face, metamorphoun – change shape, opsis – vision, PMO) is a rare disorder of visual perception, expressed in a distorted perception of the human face. It can be perceived as grimacing, elongated, older or younger than one’s true age, in the form of demons, dragons, etc. The duration of the illness can range from several days to several years.

Scientists from Dartmouth College (USA) described a unique case of a patient with PMO, which for the first time made it possible to accurately and realistically describe facial distortions perceived by a person with this disease. The 58-year-old man does not see any distortion in human faces when he looks at them on a screen or paper. But if he sees a person in person, his face is perceived as “demonic.”

Images provided by A. Mello et al.

PMO usually causes facial distortions in any circumstance, so this case is rare and scientists have used it to their advantage. In the study, scientists used a photograph of a person’s face, then showed the patient this photo and the person himself alive on the monitor screen. The patient described in real time the distortions he perceived when looking at a living person, and scientists used a program to add them to the image on a computer until they matched the description.

“In other studies of this condition, patients with PMO cannot judge how accurately the visualization of their distortions matches what they see, because the visualization itself is also a face, and patients perceive it as distorted as well. During the process, we were able to visualize in real time the patient’s perception of facial distortions,” explained the author of the work, Antonio Mello.

The authors point out that doctors often give patients with PMO syndrome other, erroneous diagnoses. 

“We’ve heard of many people with PMO who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia by psychiatrists and given antipsychotic medications even though their condition is related to the visual system,” explained co-author Brad Duchesne.

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According to the authors, the study will help raise awareness of the problem of prosopometamorphopsia.

“And often people who have PMO don’t tell others about their facial perception problem because they’re afraid others will think the distortions are a sign of a mental disorder,” Duchesne says. “It’s an issue that people often don’t understand.”

A tabloid introduction to Demons

After reading this article, many may think that this is simply an interesting article from The Lancet. However, the New York PostThe SunMirrorLBC and 33 other newspapers/magazines wrote about the same thing. 

Scientists from The Lancet write that people observing disgusting faces among those around them is some kind of rare disease, however, the disease could be some kind of universal disease, in which every second person is sick. 

Interesting observations are also made by people who are not at all interested in psychiatry, demons, or conspiracy theories. They simply recall medieval images of all evil spirits:

There is evidence from various mystics that before the End of the World, which has clearly already begun, there will be no demons in Hell – they will all crawl out of the ground and live in people. 

There are also numerous reports from ufologists and conspiracy theorists about sightings of some strange people who either look like human – alien hybrids, or like aliens wearing rubber human masks.

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And now, by coincidence, all the tabloids began to write about the presence of some kind of demons in the human population. Apparently the problem is reaching a new level and soon every second person you meet will be wearing a rubber mask, and if one of the real humans reacts strongly to this, he will be diagnosed with PMO and sent to the madhouse. 


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