Reflecting on Catoptrophobia: The Fear of Mirrors

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Reflecting on Catoptrophobia: The Fear of Mirrors

some individuals fear that their may be supernatural entities watching them from within the mirror/ Photo By Tatyana Dzemileva via Shutterstock


In a society where people are often highly conscious of their appearance, the fear of mirrors may seem rather unusual. However, because of the high standards of beauty which are usually expected of women, some may avoid looking at their reflection to prevent themselves from the disappointment of being unable to live up to them.

On the other hand, some individuals fear that their may be supernatural entities watching them from within the mirror. Other individuals may also fear reflections in general.

Catoptrophobia Definition

According to List of Things, Catoptrophobia is the fear of mirrors which is caused by being scared of what someone may see in them. states that it is also known as Eisoptrophobia and Spectrophobia.

It comes from the two Greek words, “Catropto” which means “mirrors” and “phobos” meaning “fear”.



There are several reasons that may cause a person to develop. Some of the factors which Verywell Mind lists are:


Being Uncomfortable With Body Image

If a person feels that their physical appearance do not fit within the imposed beauty standards, they may be averse to looking at themselves in the mirror. This may be commonly associated for those who feel that they are overweight. They may also have the tendency to avoid having their picture taken. While they may be fine with the presence of mirrors, but they may go to lengths to stay away from them so that they would not  be forced to stare at their own reflection.


Staying away from mirrors could be a sign of catoptrophobia / Photo By Igor Borodin via Shutterstock


Superstitions in History and Culture

Before the invention of mirrors, people used to be afraid of still waters which displayed their own reflections. It was believed that the reflection in those waters was their soul looking back at them. Out of this notion came the belief that the soul and the body could part even before a person died.

There are also legends which say that if the water which showed the individual’s reflection was disturbed, this means that some disaster may befall them. This is why the broken mirrors are said to cause bad luck or death.

For some African tribes, looking at one’s reflection in still dark waters is believed to lead to a person’s demise. They refrain from staring into them because of the belief that by merely snapping at their reflections, the crocodiles or evil spirits may steal their soul, leading them to their death.

In the early 17th century, there were people who participated in mirror divination or catotroptomancy. Those who used this kind of black magic would submerge their metallic mirrors in the water, then they would analyze the reflection of a sick person to tell whether they would live longer or if their life would end.

Other cultures do not allow children who are younger than a year old to view their own reflection since it might cause them to have an early death. In other cultures, brides are getting ready for their wedding, they are not permitted to see themselves in the mirror in their wedding dress. Some countries also have the belief that if there is a recent death in the family, the mourning members should cover their mirrors with veils. This is to prevent them from viewing their reflection which may cause them to die next or have their souls trapped in the mirror. It was also believed that the mirror was a pathway to the afterlife. Being able to see a reflection that should not be there is perceived to be a bad sign.

There is also a game that children play wherein people summon Bloody Mary to come out of the mirror.

A person may develop an intense fear of mirrors due to certain religious beliefs and superstitions which may also be associated with the fear of witchcraft, ghosts and death.


Experiencing full blown panic or anxiety attacks is a sign of having catoptrophobia/ Photo By Zdravinjo via Shutterstock


Having a fear of Reflections

If a person is generally afraid of reflections, then this may also make them afraid of mirrors. In connection to this, they may also fear other objects such as polished cars. Since reflections tend to warp the image of the objects, they may look fictional. There are cases where some individuals fear reflected writing because it looks all messed up and insensible.


Popular Media

Popular books, movies, and other media have often portrayed evil spirits being kept in mirrors then suddenly emerging from them to scare people. This is a common theme in horror. Vampires are also portrayed as not having reflections since they are souless. Constant exposure to this type of media may also lead them to have Catoptrophobia.



Signs that an individual suffers from Catoptrophobia includes:

1. Staying away from mirrors

2. Having thoughts of death or dying

3. Trying to escape from mirrors, as well as screaming and crying at the sight of them

4. Excessive sweating, heart palpitations, shallow breathing and dilated pupils

5. Experiencing full blown panic or anxiety attacks when faced with a mirror



A person who is affected by Catoptrophobia can take various approaches to help them overcome their fear of mirrors. They may use homeopathic or herbal remedies, choose to be subject to therapy or seek help from support groups.



Therapies that Remedies Point suggests are Behavioral Therapy, Exposure Therapy and learning Systematic Desensitization. They may also try NLP Therapy, talk therapy or Psychotherapy and hypnotherapy.


Homeopathic Remedies

They may also try using herbal remedies that may ease them from their anxiety caused by their fear of mirrors. Some examples of the herbs they can use are Chamomile, Melissa Officinalis and Lavandula.


Support Groups

Catoptrophobia patients may also look for online and offline support groups they can be part of, in order for them to be able to express the problems connected to their fears and be able to ask for advice from other people who overcame it. Family and friends are advised to be supportive of the affective individual and not tease them for their phobia.

If the patient has the initiative of consulting the help of a mental health expert or a therapist and undergoes the right treatment, they have higher chances of recovering. As a result, they may also break free from their fear and anxiety caused by mirrors.



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