Visual Form Constants

You may have heard me talk about Visual Form Constants. Over 90 years ago, they were well studied. In 1926, Heinrich Klüver systematically studied the effects of mescaline (peyote) on the subjective experiences of its users. In addition to producing hallucinations characterized by bright, "highly saturated" colors and vivid imagery, Klüver noticed that mescaline produced recurring geometric patterns in different users. He called these patterns 'form constants' and categorized four types: lattices (including honeycombs, checkerboards, and triangles), cobwebs, tunnels, and spirals. Klüver's form constants have appeared in other drug-induced and naturally-occurring hallucinations, suggesting a similar physiological process underlying hallucinations with different triggers. Klüver's form constants also appear in near-death experiences and sensory experiences of those with synesthesia. Other triggers include psychological stress, threshold consciousness (hypnagogia), insulin hypoglycemia, the delirium of fever, epilepsy, psychotic episodes, advanced syphilis, sensory deprivation, photostimulation, electrical stimulation, crystal gazing, migraine headaches, dizziness and a variety of drug-induced intoxications. These shapes may appear on their own or with eyes shut in the form of phosphenes, especially when exerting pressure against the closed eyelid.