View Full Version : Rendering unconsciousness through Flashing Lights?

11-25-2002, 11:29 AM
This is a tad odd, but I have noticed when I am driving along a stand of trees and the sun flashes quickly in the car - like a daytime strobe light - I get the sensation of passing out, or wanting to fall asleep. Why is this?
Is there some aspect of neural connectivity/activity that immediately forces me to want to fall asleep from fast bursts of flashing light?
I asked several co-workers at work and some looked at me funny, others knew the feeling. And so as not to make a complete fool of myself, I asked Mrs.Phlosphr if this has ever happened to her....it has.
Whats up?

11-25-2002, 11:36 AM
I don't know for sure, but strobe effects are known to set off epilepsy - you might want to get this checked out.

However, I myself went into some sort of shock state after staring into a strobe light at a rave once. Really odd sensation, so it might be that.

11-25-2002, 11:49 AM
I don't know the exact cause of this, but I thought I'd share a related story.

A few years ago I was having trouble falling asleep. So one night I decided to be as aware as possible of what was going on in my head until I fell asleep. The next morning, the last thing I could remember of the night before were some flashing lights, presumably just before I fell asleep. This happened several nights. So for me anyway, it would appear the flashing lights are somehow linked to me going into an unconscious state.

But now I use this to help me fall asleep. Whenever I'm having trouble falling asleep, I imagine I'm looking at a lighthouse with a rotating light where the beam sweeps right over my face. The rythmic flashing works every time and I go right to sleep. Strange.

11-25-2002, 11:58 AM
There is a type of epilepsy called Photosensitive epilepsy. Flashing lights or light effects can trigger it (hence the warning at the start of some TV programmes or concerts.

Although you aren't having siezures, It does sound like you are certainly prone to photosensitive effects.

I would mention it at your next checkup. or else take a different route home ;)

11-25-2002, 05:15 PM
For centuries people have been using bright flashing light as one of several non-chemical routes to exploring your interior mental landscape (or in modern terms, triggering abnormal brain states.) One of the old "alchemist secrets" describes lying in the sun with your head under a spoked wheel while you (or your acolyte) cranks it by hand.

Strobe lights were popular for awhile, but currently "Brain Machines" are the big fad. These are plastic sunglasses with LEDs mounted in front of your eyes, with a processor flashing the LEDs in fancy time patterns:


Try searching on:

+"non-chemical" +"altered states"

11-25-2002, 08:41 PM
Very interesting!! I was not expecting two totally different references to epilepsy! Not that I think I have it, or even surmise that I have anyform of epilepsy, but it's weird all the same.
I don't know about epilepsy, but I do know I asked several coworkers if the same phenomenon had occured with them, and several of them replied, YES!! So what is going on here? The seriousness of the subject is certainly interwoven in the peculiarness. That being said, what is the phenomenon we are talking about actually called? I have a masters in environmental psych and I still am quite unsure as to what is happening. I should have remained awake in my psycho-pathology classes!

11-25-2002, 10:36 PM
i know this happens a lot with pilots flying twords in the sun in one of those single propeller dealies

11-25-2002, 11:48 PM
At dances when the strobe light comes on I sometime get a spaced out feeling, a lot like shock. It wasn't a passing out feeling it was just a seperated dulled senses feeling.

11-26-2002, 12:28 AM
The artist Bryon Gysin (http://davidwoodard.com/index.html) developed what he called The Dream Machine (http://members.aol.com/pstuart/pub/) which used flashing light to cause the viewer to have powerful hallucinations. There's also the movie Looker (http://us.imdb.com/Title?0082677) which involves a strobe light weapon that causes people to blank out for several seconds.

11-26-2002, 02:12 AM
Cecil addressed epileptic seizures brought on by strobe lights here: Why do theaters warn audiences when a strobe is used in a play? (https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a2_423a.html)

11-26-2002, 09:31 AM
Sometimes I zone out momentarily at night when the car in front of me has a bright yellow turn signal flashing.

The photosensitive epilepsy angle was used to dramatic effect in "The Andromeda Strain."

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