Catoptrophobia (Fear Of Mirrors)

The fear of mirrors is commonly referred to as Catoptrophobia or eisoptrophobia. Individuals with this disorder don’t actually fear the mirror itself. Instead, it’s the reflection from the mirror that frightens them.


The fear of mirrors is highly personalized and relatively rare. Some individuals are afraid of reflected words, others their own reflection. It is an irrational phobia, specific to mirrors and poses no real danger. Because mirrors are present in most homes and public bathrooms, it is nearly impossible to avoid them and may cause immense suffering to people from this phobia. Understanding the symptoms and genesis of the fear is the first step towards overcoming it.

Some individuals are afraid of being pulled into the mirror by supernatural forces. Others fear the thought of a monster jumping out of the mirror or observing something disturbing besides their reflection. While adults with the disorder understand that the fear of the mirror is irrational, their thoughts of facing a mirror often bring them severe anxiety or panic attack.

Catoptrophobia may be associated with a general fear of reflections. Apart from mirrors, a person may be afraid of reflective items such as specific types of sunglasses or highly polished vehicles. Reflections usually interfere with the reflected materials, making them look slightly unreal. Some individuals with adrenal insufficiency or schizophrenic tend to have this disorder as well.

An individual suffering from the abnormal fear of their own reflection or mirrors may have underlying anxieties. Left untreated, the symptoms are known to gradually worsen and negatively impact on a patient’s mental and physical wellbeing. Furthermore, their personal life suffers too, as the individual becomes self-limiting in their behavior, and will evade areas where he or she feels uncomfortable.

Read on to understand how you can gain peace, joy, self-belief, as well as certified procedures to overcome the fear of mirror.


Catoptrophobia symptoms can be emotional, physical and mental. The fear and anxiety can go from a minor feeling of anxiety to a full blown panic attack. Reaction to mirrors may differ from one individual to the other; this is because the amount of fear expressed towards a mirror varies among people. However, some of the common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach distress or nausea
  • Thoughts of death or crying
  • Avoidance of mirrors
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Discomfort or chest pain
  • Shaking
  • Panic
  • Challenge of thinking of anything else other than fear
  • Anticipatory anxiety: Constant worry about upcoming occasions that involve mirrors
  • Trembling
  • Inability to articulate sentences or words

The fear of mirrors and symptoms resulting from thoughts of being exposed to mirrors are commonly based on a person’s fearful thoughts. The main common fearful thoughts associated with the disorder include:

  • Fear of being observed from inside of a mirror
  • Fear of something disturbing emerging from the mirror to attack them
  • The fear of observing something different from the one it should be reflected

What are the causes of fear of mirrors?

It is usually understood that phobias result from a combination of internal predispositions and external occasions such as traumatic events. A good number of specific disorders are linked to a specific triggering occasion, commonly a traumatic experience during childhood. Agoraphobia and social phobias have complex causes which have so far not been established. Some believe that genetics, brain chemistry and hereditary factors, combined with life experiences, play a key role in the development of phobias.

Most Catoptrophobia cases have their genesis in the early past. Fear is traced back to human’s fear of stagnant water. Some individuals avoid staring at still water, since they fear evil spirits or crocodiles can kill them by seizing their reflection and running away with their souls.


Patients suffering from this disorder need to be treated by experienced clinical therapists. Hypnotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy are commonly recommended to the people with this disorder. Other effective cure methods include exposure therapy, talk therapy, and self-help, which denotes that the person themselves are responsible for the cure of the disorder. This entails breaking the mental ties between fight responses and mirrors.

Talk therapy

If the self-help method doesn’t work effectively, then you will need to see a psychiatrist who will take you through talk therapy sessions. The results of therapy depends on who you are working with. Go to a qualified psychiatrist for better results.

Behavioral therapy

This is a one-to-one encounter with a therapist. The principle applied here is gradual desensitization and exposure to mirrors. During the process, one will learn how to overcome the anxiety triggered by the exposure. Exposure is gradually increased with time. For instance, initial sessions might entail only imagining or looking at photographs of mirrors.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Here the patient is exposed to things he or she fears gradually while working on the thoughts that are engineering the fear. Hypnosis helps deep relaxation, visualization and suggest ways to overcome phobias and fears. With Cognitive Therapy, a patient will start to see the results within 10 to 20 weeks.

A prayer is also a powerful tool, it helps one get closer to spirituality and overcome the fear of unnatural. If the fear results from one’s feeling of being ugly, affirmation is used. The patient is required to face the mirror and assure himself or herself that he or she is handsome/beautiful. This will bring about self-confidence. Friends and family members need to help the patient overcome phobia by building self-confidence in him or her.

A competent therapist offers great support to patients to overcome the fear of mirror. What is needed is a determination to overcome the fear; everything is possible.


A therapist can prescribe medicine to deal with your fear, however this can have some side effects. It is vital to understand that medicine does not cure fear of mirrors – it will just temporarily suppress your phobia.


Practice staying near mirrors until you are used to them. If you’re a parent and your child suffers from this phobia, talk to them about their fears. Let them understand that everyone has scary thoughts.