Decoding Eisoptrophobia: The Fear of Mirrors
Do you hate the idea of looking at yourself in the mirror?
Is the idea of catching your reflection in the mirror or any reflective surface repulsive?
Do you get distressed every time you see any reflective surfaces, like kitchen utensils or cutlery pieces?
You probably don’t have any idea why this happens? Or maybe you are so used to avoiding mirrors that it’s become a huge part of your daily routine. As long as it hasn’t created any major issue in your life, you can simply avoid it, right?
This condition is called eisoptrophobia or the phobia of mirrors where the person feels extreme fear and revulsion towards mirrors and seeing their reflection. Though it might sound scary, it’s curable.
Eisoptrophobia or the fear of mirrors is very similar to Spectrophobia which is the extreme fear of seeing ones own reflection and how it may appear.
What is Eisoptrophobia?
Derived from the Greek language, eisoptro means mirror in Greek, whereas phobia means fear. This condition is a fear of reflection where the person exhibits extreme fear and anxiety over mirrors and self-reflection.
One mustn’t confuse this with hatred or dislike for mirrors. It’s a medical condition where the person is unable to control their reaction to mirrors.
Everything You Need to Know about Eisoptrophobia
Just like most phobias, eisoptrophobia also known as catoptrophobia, is a simple phobia. Simple or specific phobias are characterized by trigger points. As phobias fall under the parent category of anxiety disorders, they are usually caused by a specific reason. In this case, it is the mirror.
Most people who have phobias are aware of their condition. While they understand that the fear is unreasonable, they are incapable of battling it. They cannot control their reactions.
Most phobias are caused due to reasons that are beyond the control of the individual. However, once they focus on why this happens, they can treat their condition accordingly.
What Causes Eisoptrophobia?
As eisoptrophobia is fear of reflections, eisoptrophobia has something to do with how a person views himself or herself. There are many reasons why this happens. However, as its an anxiety disorder, it could be due to the following reasons:
Many superstitions associated with mirrors can cause this disorder. There are many people who feel that there are demons who reside in mirrors that will harm you if you look in them. Also, many inauspicious omens are associated with mirrors.
A major physical or psychological trauma inflicted on a person can also cause this disorder. Sufferers of emotional or physical harassment such as acid attack victims, people who have faced stalkers, eve-teasers, or molesters can develop a deep repulsion for their appearance.
As they get targeted for their looks, they start feeling that must be why they went through such a horrific experience. Watching themselves in the mirrors reminds them of their painful experiences.
Low Self Esteem
People with low self-esteem feel they are not good enough either to look at and in every other aspect as well. Such people can also develop a phobia of looking at their reflection.
Extreme Case of Depression
People battling with depression are fighting within themselves. Though there could be many reasons for depression, one prominent reason is how the patient views themselves.
It affects their confidence, self-esteem, making them incapable of loving themselves. Though not everybody with depression is eisoptrophobic, it can be one of the side effects of depression.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
In this disorder, a person starts obsessing over their physical attributes such as big eyes, face fat, or large ears, etc. These are minor flaws to others. However, to the person, it’s a source of embarrassment.
Though most people are embarrassed about such things, they forget about them eventually. However, those who have this disorder, obsess over them constantly. Hence, this too can lead to a phobia of reflections.
Being in an accident that causes brain damage can also lead to several phobias. Coupled with severe traumatic experiences, these phobias can be specific. The brain works differently for people who have had a head injury. That is precisely why they are helpless victims who are aware of how irrational their fears are but incapable of changing their situation.
This is rare, but if someone in the family has a similar disorder, then one can inherit it. This has nothing to do with the person’s personal experiences. Depending on how intense it is, it can be treated accordingly.
Though eisoptrophobia causes are complex and inter-related with many different issues, once you learn about them it’s easier to find a solution.
Symptoms of Eisoptrophobia
For most phobias the symptoms are similar. However, if you’re thinking, “ Do I have eisoptrophobia?”, you can put your worries to rest as there are ways to find out. It’s easy to spot them as mirrors and reflective surfaces are both visible objects. So, the sufferer’s reaction is predictable.
Physical symptoms for most phobias are similar. They are:
● Increase in heartbeat
● Panic attacks
● Fainting spells
● Nausea or dizziness
● Shortness of breath
● Trembling or muscle spasms
These are more severe than the psychological symptoms.
Here are a few psychological symptoms of eisoptrophobia:
● Irrational behavior around mirrors
● Repulsive reaction to mirrors
● Extreme avoidance of reflective surfaces
● Screaming or shouting after looking at mirrors
● The presence of a mirror can make the patient unwell
These symptoms are minor but clearly indicate the issue. If you or someone you know is exhibiting such symptoms, you must take them seriously. The phobia is treatable, but if it goes unchecked, it can lead to serious issues.
How Do You Deal with Eisoptrophobia?
Before seeing an expert for eisoptrophobia treatment, you must ask yourself how severe the condition is? Most people who become aware of their phobias and realize it’s a medical condition feel so much better.
Most doctors are of the opinion that phobias should be treated when they get disruptive. If it’s still in its initial stages, there are various methods to cure them on your own.
If you are feeling low because you are wondering, “Why do I have a fear of mirrors?”, you can relax. There are ways you can try dealing with this disorder on your own.
As most phobias stem from either a personal encounter or head injury, you can treat it accordingly. However, you must remember that the most important thing is knowing what caused your phobia. You cannot lessen the effects of your phobia unless you know the cause.
These are some of the methods for self-care:
Yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises can help you control the flow of thoughts. It also helps with other anxiety disorders. The goal is to train your mind and channel your thoughts positively.
Maintaining a Journal
When you maintain a personal diary, you write about the day, thoughts, and feelings. It helps sort out muddled emotions and gives you a healthy outlet to channel and let out your feelings.
Games such as sudoku, word games, and puzzles that keep your brain working and teach you many new things will keep you occupied in a positive way. Mental activities are very helpful in mind training.
Learning to Love Yourself
If you have low confidence or self-esteem, it could be due to someone’s negative influence for a prolonged period. Your goal is to understand why you feel this way about yourself and changing your perspective. You can do this with the help of many activities like:
● Make a list of the things you love and hate about yourself daily
● Ask people how they feel about you
● Work on your flaws and appreciate your good qualities
The point of these activities is to learn how to love yourself. This might make it easier for you to see your reflection.
These self-learning techniques will take time to show effect. However, you must be willing to do them. However, if the case is severe, it might take a professional’s help.
Professional help is for those who are unable to manage their phobias. Most therapists suggest two kinds of therapies:
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
With CBT, the expert tries finding the trigger and cause of the phobia through sessions. They talk to their patients and over time can find the reason. Often patients are aware of the cause, but sometimes they are unsure. Using their expertise, they help them remember what happened.
Here, the patient is desensitized or exposed to their phobias in small doses. It’s like how we get vaccinated with a small dose of the antigen to build antibodies. Similarly, to get desensitized, a therapist uses various techniques to make the patient face their fears. It’s extremely effective for severe cases.
When you are aware of a problem, your brain activity changes. Similarly, in the case of a phobia, a heightened sense of awareness about the phobia and the fact that it’s unreasonable can help cure the phobia. There are various ways to become aware of your emotions and fears.
How to Avoid Altogether
Though you can’t avoid eisoptrophobia, you can learn to live with it. You can seek professional help, and work on yourself to manage it to a great degree.
Learning to Cope with Eisoptrophobia
Most mental health illnesses do not have the perfect cure. But if you are thinking about how rare is the fear of mirrors and if it can be cured, you don’t need to worry about it.
It’s true that once you have undergone treatment for eisoptrophobia, you won’t automatically start admiring yourself in the mirror. There might be some amount of hesitancy to look at mirrors, which is normal.
You can start by looking at reflective surfaces. Later, if you are comfortable, you can try looking at your reflection. Even if you remain uncomfortable around mirrors, the therapies might help with reducing the effect of your phobia.
Eisoptrophobia isn’t something to feel embarrassed about. With or without the cure, you can find a way to cope with your fears. However, you must stay determined to cope with it, to see a day of being scared of looking in the mirror. With timely effort, it will get better.