How does this gorilla appear to you?

The first time I saw Shabani, I felt a connection; his gaze conveyed an understanding of the person taking the photo and their existence. The eyes seemed so soulful, expressing emotions, intentions, and empathy.

Notice the whites of Shabani’s eyes? He has that distinct white sclera, exactly how we humans have it, contributing to his human-like qualities and appearance.

Thanks to this visible white in the eye, we humans have the impressive capacity to see what the other person is looking at and communicate by gazing into their eyes, allowing us to socialise at a higher level.

Through gazing, we not only observe but also recognise and acknowledge sentience and emotions, turning the gaze, an act so seemingly simple and silent, into a powerful tool for validating and affirming one’s existence.

Similarly, in the therapeutic context, when a therapist establishes eye contact with their client, it conveys the profound message: “You exist, and your presence matters.”


About the Author

Hi, I'm Mag: a UKCP-accredited counselling psychologist and founder of Singapore’s first ever existential practice. My care philosophy is not to diagnose, label, or categorise but rather to work with the individual in front of me in the here and now.

My clinical credentials certainly play a significant role in defining my professional identity. But to foster a deeper connection and authenticity, I invite you to discover my other “Selves”, the various facets of who I am.

Learn more about me here