Eisoptrophy consists of an irrational fear of seeing one’s own image reflected in a mirror . More specifically, those who suffer from it experience an intense fear at the idea of seeing something terrifying in the mirror, such as ghosts, spirits, etc.

Although the person is able to see the irrational and absurdity within their fear, they cannot help but feel it, as it works in most phobias. This aspect is related to a superstitious thought , where it is believed that seeing one’s own image reflected in a mirror can lead to something bad happening, and the same goes for breaking the mirror. Here the cultural aspect is important.

Eisoptrophobia is also associated, within anxiety disorders, with self-image rejection . When we do not have an adequate vision of ourselves but quite the opposite, when we see ourselves reflected in a mirror we are in front of everything that produces rejection of our own body, becoming something obsessive and that we tend to avoid. And, on the other hand, it can be part of a more serious mental disorder.

What is eisoptrophy? Characteristics

Those who suffer from eisoptrophy have the same symptoms that occur in any phobia when we are in front of the feared stimulus , in this case mirrors, or we anticipate that we will be. Some of the most common symptoms are the following:

  • Sweating.
  • Feeling of suffocation and shortness of breath.
  • He’s tachycardic.
  • You want to run away and avoid the mirrors.
  • Dizziness and nausea.
  • Intense fear and anxiety.

Who suffers from it?

After numerous researches with scientific support, we can say that phobias are learned, and some people have more vulnerability than others to develop them.

This vulnerability can occur for several aspects, one of them, as I pointed out above, has to do with the image and concept of oneself . That is, those people who have a low self-esteem, and focused mainly on their appearance, are afraid to look at themselves in the mirror because what they see produces very intense feelings of rejection. Avoiding exposure to this causes anxiety to become greater and more uncontrollable.

On the other hand, all that superstitious thinking linked to “bad luck” that causes a mirror to break, or break it by accident, as well as ideas of the kind that the person might see something scary reflected in it or even that something might come out of the mirror and hurt him, can give rise to irrational beliefs that cause and maintain the problem.

How does it harm mental health?

The consequences of any kind of phobia are the limitations that the person suffers. Everything that surrounds what is feared will be tried to avoid; in this case, everything that has to do with mirrors or reflective surfaces .

Those who suffer from this phobia at home do not have mirrors where they can see themselves, and will avoid those situations where there are mirrors, for example, social situations in restaurants, hairdressers or beauty centres, shops, etc. And those that he cannot avoid, he will live with great discomfort and anxiety .

These limitations cause the person to reduce his or her circle of social activity, and may even affect work, family and relationships.


The treatment of eisoptrophobia aims at eliminating fear, unlearning what has been learned, and knowing other ways of dealing with the problem .

The most effective therapeutic proposal today is exposure therapy . It consists of exposing the person to the feared stimuli in a gradual way, so that they become desensitized little by little, and providing them with strategies for managing anxiety, as well as restructuring the unbalanced and irrational thinking.

Thus, one recovers self-esteem and self-confidence ; in short, one can have control over what happens, thus eliminating the limits that the disorder itself makes the person impose on him/herself.

Bibliographic references:

  • André, Christophe. (2006). Psychology of fear. Fears, anxieties and phobias. Barcelona. Editorial Kairós, 2006.
  • Cavallo, Vicente. (1998). International Handbook of Cognitive and Behavioural Treatments for Psychological Disorders. Pergamon. pp. 5-6.
  • Evans, Rand. (1999). Clinical psychology born and raised in controversy. APA Monitor, 30(11).