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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Eyes are the mirror of the soul

On Monday I saw a young child on the street while I was walking home. Our eyes met for several intense seconds. He was reading me while I was reading him. I noticed (starting) evil in his eyes. I wondered what had happened in his life at that age to be able to radiate this.

Science Magazine of 17 April 2015 published an interesting article which was dubbed "Gaze into my eyes" by its editor. Apparently, humans bond emotionally as we gaze into each other's eyes, a process mediated by the hormone oxytocin. The Science article described a similar process between humans and dogs. Wolves, who rarely engage in eye contact with their human handlers, seem resistant to this effect. Love at first sight suddenly gets a scientific explanation.

Oxytocin plays an important role in the neuroanatomy of intimacy, specifically in sexual reproduction of both sexes, in particular during and after childbirth. It is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and uterus during labor, facilitating birth, maternal bonding and lactation, after stimulation of the nipples. Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin's role in various behaviours, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviours. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the "bonding hormone". Wikipedia

I feel that the eyes are indeed the mirror of the soul. Also see my February 28 blog on Lying Eyes. While researching this expression, I noticed three relevant references:
i. "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Bible);
ii. Cicero (106-43 B.C.) is quoted as saying, 'Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi' or "The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter"; (link 1, link 2)
iii. The Latin proverbs, 'Vultus est index animi' or 'Oculus animi index,' are usually translated as "the face is the mirror of the soul/mind", and "the eyes are the mirror to the soul/mind" (link 1link 2)

My April 20 blog on Addicted to Love described the soul as a concept. Wikipedia states that the soul, in many religious, philosophical and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal and, in many conceptions, immortal essence of a living thing. Incorporeal means without a physical body, presence or form. One problem with seeking scientific evidence for the soul is that there is no clear or unique definition of what the soul is.

In 2007 Mats Larsson published his doctoral dissertation on "Human Iris Characteristics as Biomarkers for Personality" which got some media attention (link 1, link 2link 3). "Our results suggest people with different iris features tend to develop along different personality lines," said Matt Larsson, a behavioural scientist who led the study at Orebro University. These findings support the notion that people with different iris configurations tend to develop along different trajectories in regards to personality. "Differences in the iris can be used as a biomarker that reflects differences between people."

The speed and accuracy with which irises can be mapped means there is growing interest in using photographs of eyes for security as well as research purposes. Governments are testing the use of digital photographs of the iris on 'biometric' passports and identity cards.