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A blindfold (from Middle English blindfellen) is a garment, usually of cloth, tied to one's head to cover the eyes to disable the wearer's sight. While a properly fitted blindfold prevents sight even if the eyes are open, a poorly tied or trick blindfold may let the wearer see around or even through the blindfold.
Blindfolds can be used in various applications:
- As a sleep mask: They block out light when sleeping, especially during air travel, or for those who sleep during the day, given that shutting out light allows the user to achieve a deeper level of sleep. They can also provide relief from claustrophobia for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) patients. People with glaucoma should avoid using these.
- In children's games, such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey and when hitting a piñata.
- During both martial arts and weight lifting, to encourage reliance on other senses, such as touch or hearing.
- As a sensory deprivation tool in meditation, to focus attention on oneself rather than outside imagery.
- As a way to keep a kidnapping victim, hostage, prisoner, etc., from being able to identify locations or people.
- To cover the eyes of a blind person for health or cosmetic reasons. (Since the invention of sunglasses, this is much less common.)
- As a prop in magic tricks. One common trick involves a blindfolded performer doing a task that requires vision, such as driving.
- As an aid to simulate blindness during training of Orientation and Mobility Specialists, so that they develop empathetic understanding of blindness and learn how to rely on their other senses to get to know the environment and move around freely and independently.
- During executions, to relax and calm the accused will be unable to see their execution and thus less likely to panic.
- Sexual activity may include blindfolding. They can be constructed with feathers and sold with handcuffs in novelty "bondage kits". Many impromptu items already found in the bedroom lend themselves to such use without preparation or prior purchase of specialized equipment.
Use of a blindfold is said to enhance the remaining senses of the wearer, focusing attention on sound, smells and physical contact. This increased awareness is said to allow for greater excitement and anticipation by eliminating visual cues, as one cannot see what to expect. It also requires trust of the submissive, with all the emotional ramifications that entails.
The blindfold has been a powerful symbol in divination and mythology since the 15th century.
The blindfold as a symbol is also a common theme in tarot and other divination methods. It can represent themes of the victim, resistance to clarity, denial, or limited views. It is often accompanied by underlying themes of integrity and truth at a cost. Likewise, the icon of the blindfold can symbolize the dichotomy of the conscious and the unconscious, as wearing a blindfold represents a stasis or a lesser state of consciousness, whereas taking off one's blindfold represents a form of awakening or rebirth. It also represents connection to feeling over senses, emphasizing the importance of emotion over perception.
- Gooley, Joshua J.; Chamberlain, Kyle; Smith, Kurt A.; Khalsa, Sat Bir S.; Rajaratnam, Shantha M. W.; Van Reen, Eliza; Zeitzer, Jamie M.; Czeisler, Charles A.; Lockley, Steven W. (March 2011). "Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 96 (3): E463–E472. doi:10.1210/jc.2010-2098. ISSN 0021-972X. PMC 3047226. PMID 21193540.
- The News Today Online Edition, Of entertainers and blindfolded drivers by Atty. Cyril Regalado (retrieved July 31, 2011)
- Blindfolds in novelty kits
- NeoVox International Magazine, Psst...pass the handcuffs Archived September 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine by Alex Reid, December 22, 2005 (retrieved August 1, 2006)
- Blindfolds in justice.
- Blindfolds in tarot.