Eisoptrophobia is the abnormal and persistent fear of mirrors or of seeing one’s reflection in a mirror. The word originates from the Greek “eis” (into) and “optikos” (vision, image, sight).
Other English words derived from “optikos” include “optic” (relating to vision) and “optician,” a technician who designs eyeglasses according to a prescription.
A person who suffers from Eisoptrophobia fears seeing themselves in large mirrors – especially body length or larger mirrors – and avoids passing in front of mirrors.
Phobias related to Eisoptrophobia include:
- Catoptrophobia (fear of mirrors)
- Dysmorphophobia (fear of deformity)
The phobia should not be confused with Isopterophobia, the fear of termites.
Sufferers of Eisoptrophobia
A person may suffer from Eisoptrophobia for a number of reasons. These usually stem from some sort of emotional trauma involving mirrors. The phobic may also have a superstitious fear of being watched through a mirror – with the mirror being considered a gateway to the supernatural or a window into another world. Superstitious people avoid mirrors as they fear it might break and bring seven years of bad luck.
Some sufferers fear mirrors due to low self-esteem and avoidance of wanting to see themselves. Avoiding mirrors is a way to deny the truth regarding their appearance.
Symptoms of Eisoptrophobia
An exaggerated or persistent fear of mirrors can lead to mild avoidance of mirrors to full blown panic attacks.
Symptoms may include:
- Avoidance of mirrors
- Thoughts of death or dying
- Screaming, crying, trying to flee
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shallow breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Sweating excessively
- Dry mouth
- Feeling hot or cold
Causes of Eisoptrophobia
There are two different ways in which Eisoptrophobia can manifest:
- One – when people become ill-unkempt because they refuse to deal with insecurities and fears about looking good
- Two – being vain, by spending too much time fixing the superficial aspect of oneself, thus becoming paranoid about self-image
Avoiding mirrors may be the only way to achieve some sense of relief, or way to escape from this phobia. Fearing a mirror is simply fearing oneself. Building a good sense of confidence regarding oneself, loving and accepting oneself, can be the key to looking at the mirror and liking what you see.
Pop culture, media, books, movies often show evil spirits trapped inside mirrors haunting people. Vampires have no reflection since they do not have any souls. All these concepts may trigger Eisoptrophobia.
Eisoptrophobia could have begun in early history, when people used ponds and still waters as mirrors (or looking glasses). They thought the images reflected in the water were their souls looking back at them and it scared them. This practice lead to mirror divination, which is a type of black magic practiced in the early 17th century. The practitioners would dip metallic mirrors into the water and study the sick person’s reflection to decide whether he/she would live or die.
How to Overcome Eisoptrophobia
Avoiding mirrors is something that cannot be avoided, therefore it is important for the sufferer to think about the possible treatments available from the cure of Eisoptrophobia.
Having therapy and panic treatment can be effective in treating Eisoptrophobia. To build self-esteem, one can go through community involvement, intellectual accomplishments, and creative hobbies.
Generally, alternative medications and therapies have been found to be beneficial when compared to traditional drugs – many of which carry harmful side effects.