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.
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:
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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.
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.
Many healthcare providers agree that genetics and your environment can increase your risk:
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.
Seeing a mirror can cause a combination of negative behaviors and physical responses.
You may go out of your way to avoid mirrors by:
Physical symptoms may include:
Healthcare providers use a mental health evaluation to diagnose eisoptrophobia. There isn’t a specific test to diagnose chronophobia. 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.
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.
Additional treatments may include:
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:
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.
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 are better able to cope with it.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/28/2022.
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