Eisoptrophobia (Fear of Mirrors)

Eisoptrophobia is an unhealthy fear of mirrors. Some people fear mirrors due to self-image issues. People may also avoid mirrors because they distort the way an object looks. This phobia leads to lifestyle changes that enable people to avoid mirrors.


What is eisoptrophobia?

You may have eisoptrophobia if you have an intense fear of mirrors. Eisoptrophobia is a specific phobia, which means it causes fear of a particular situation. The fear is typically much greater than the actual risk of danger. Eisoptrophobia may also be called spectrophobia or catoptrophobia.

People with a specific phobia often have many phobias. In addition to eisoptrophobia, they may also have:

  • Atelophobia: Fear of imperfection.
  • Cacophobia: Fear of ugliness.
  • Chromophobia: Fear of colors.
  • Koinoniphobia: Fear of rooms.
  • Obesophobia: Fear of gaining weight.
  • Sanguivoriphobia: Fear of vampires (according to folklore, they have no reflection in mirrors).
  • Thanatophobia: Fear of death.

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What is a phobia?

Being fearful of things that make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable is common. Many people fear needle pokes, flying and snake encounters. These things may cause anxiety. But thinking about them does not disrupt daily life.

Phobias are intense feelings of fear. It may be challenging to get a phobia off your mind. You may go out of your way to avoid situations that trigger the phobia. These efforts can overtake rational thinking and worsen over time.

Do I have eisoptrophobia?

Mirrors are typically a part of everyday life. They help us see images of ourselves and can protect us from danger (for example, mirrors in or on vehicles). But some people fear images due to self-image issues. People may also avoid mirrors because they may distort the way an object looks. If you have eisoptrophobia, the thought of mirrors can bring intense anxiety. This can sometimes lead to panic attacks.

If you have signs of eisoptrophobia, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. You should be honest with them about what you are experiencing. They can offer reassurance and refer you to therapies that make life a little less stressful.


Symptoms and Causes

What causes a fear of mirrors?

Many healthcare providers agree that genetics and your environment can increase your risk:

  • Genetics: A family history of mood disorders means you may carry genes that cause phobias.
  • Environment: If you experience emotional trauma related to mirrors, you may be more likely to develop a phobia of them. Some people have bad experiences with mirrors because of scary movies or mirror-based attractions at carnivals.

Cultural beliefs may also play a role in eisoptrophobia. Many cultures believe that the souls of deceased loved ones travel through or get trapped in mirrors. This is why mirrors are often covered or turned away when a family is in mourning.

What are eisoptrophobia symptoms?

Seeing a mirror can cause a combination of negative behaviors and physical responses.

Negative behaviors:

You may go out of your way to avoid mirrors by:

  • Removing mirrors from your home.
  • Not buying items, like makeup kits, that have mirrors.
  • Giving up your driver’s license because the safety mirrors make you uncomfortable.
  • Avoiding public outings due to fear that you’ll encounter a mirror.

Physical responses:

Physical symptoms may include:


Diagnosis and Tests

How is eisoptrophobia diagnosed?

Healthcare providers use a mental health evaluation to diagnose eisoptrophobia. There isn’t a specific test to diagnose eisoptrophobia. Your provider will ask you about your symptoms, mental health history and whether you have other phobias. They may refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in phobias and anxiety disorders.

Management and Treatment

What is eisoptrophobia treatment like?

A common treatment for eisoptrophobia is exposure therapy. It gradually exposes you to situations that trigger your fear of mirrors. Exposure therapy for eisoptrophobia may start by looking at pictures of mirrors. Over time, you may progress to looking at real mirrors. With successful treatment, seeing mirrors becomes less bothersome.

Can other treatments help me cope with a fear of mirrors?

Additional treatments may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Mental health professionals use CBT to help you explore thoughts and feelings associated with mirrors. You also develop healthy alternatives to negative thoughts or behaviors.
  • Medications: Taking medications does not cure eisoptrophobia. But antidepressants and antianxiety medications can get you through a challenging time. If you start driving again and are anxious about rearview mirrors, medications can make using them less stressful.
  • Stress reduction: These techniques help quiet your mind and relax your body. Yoga and meditation can help you become more in tune with your thoughts and feelings. This can reduce the likelihood of panic when you see a mirror.


Is there anything I can do to prevent a fear of mirrors?

If you face a higher risk of anxiety disorders, there are steps you can take to manage them. Doing so may lower the likelihood of common fears becoming phobias.

Managing anxiety may include:

  • Limiting alcohol and recreational drug consumption.
  • Lowering stress.
  • Quitting smoking and other forms of tobacco use.
  • Spending time with loved ones.
  • Taking up a new hobby to take your mind off the phobia.

Outlook / Prognosis

What is the outlook for people with eisoptrophobia?

Seeking treatment shows you methods for managing the fear of mirrors and reflections. You may still sometimes experience anxiety. But knowing how to calm unpleasant thoughts can prevent them from escalating. If symptoms are becoming more difficult to control, contact your healthcare provider. They can offer tips or recommend additional therapies.

Living With

What else is important to know about living with eisoptrophobia?

You don’t have to live in fear of mirrors. Help is available. It can take time to overcome negative thoughts and feelings as recovery isn’t always a direct path forward. It’s normal to experience small setbacks. But don’t let these discourage you.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Eisoptrophobia is an unhealthy fear of mirrors or reflective objects. Changing your lifestyle to avoid the phobia can worsen its impact on your life. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about having a phobia. Many people have them. Seeking treatment can help you gain a rational perception of the fear so that you’re better able to cope with it.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/28/2022.

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