What is Eisoptrophobia?

An irrational fear of mirrors is known as eisoptrophobia or catoptrophobia. Most people with this fear are not afraid of the mirror itself, but of the image it produces. With social pressure to maintain an attractive appearance, most people use mirrors as a tool. The phobic, however, will avoid mirrors and in extreme cases will avoid going out at all for fear of seeing their own reflection.

Eisoptrophobia is considered a specific phobia but can have deep social implications.

The fear of mirrors is relatively rare and highly personalized. Some people are afraid of their own reflection, others of reflected words, and still others of the mirror's potential link with the supernatural.

An eisoptrophobic may also fear that breaking a mirror may bring bad luck. In some cases, eisoptrophobia causes one to fear an entity walking out of a mirror or fearing existence of ‘other things’ inside the mirror.

The root word “eisoptro” is Greek meaning “mirror”.

Symptoms of Eisoptrophobia

  • extreme anxiety, dread
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid breathing
  • heart palpitation
  • excessive sweating
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • confusion / inability to articulate clearly
  • lack of focus
  • irritability
  • diarrhea
  • shaking
  • feelings of powerlessness
  • obsession with the subject of the phobia
  • fear or feelings of losing control
  • avoidance behavior
  • headaches

Learn more about phobia symptoms

Causes of Eisoptrophobia

In some cases, sufferers have low self-esteem associated with personal appearance due to perceived imperfections, deformities or medical conditions, but no such issue is required for the formation of the phobia.

Eisoptrophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well understood, are driven by social anxiety and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation or seeing something on the news or on TV and movies.

Eisoptrophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

Learn more about the causes of phobias

Treatment for Eisoptrophobia

  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Habit strategies to relax
  • Cognitive therapy (CT)
  • In vivo exposure
  • Response prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments


Book Shelf

The list of books below are hand picked by the staff at Massive Phobia. It's a mixture of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Habit Strategies, Trauma Healing, Mindfulness, Meditation, Buddhist Knowledge and Somatic Study. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.