Fear of mirrors – Catoptrophobia. The fear of mirrors is known by several names: Catoprophobia, Spectrophobia, and Eisoprophobia. Catoptrophobia comes from the Greek Catropto or katoptron (mirrors) and Phobos (fear). Spectrophobia is derived from the Latin word spectrum (ghosts). Similarly, erotophobia originates from the Greek ‘is’ (within) and optics (vision).
Modern society is obsessed with self-image: most people, especially women, are terrified of looking in mirrors for fear of not meeting established beauty standards. As in the famous fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they fear that the mirror will tell them that they are no longer beautiful. That aside, Most Catoprophobic individuals are afraid of mirrors due to their connection to the supernatural.
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Causes of catoprophobia
- Catoptrophobia, as mentioned above, can originate due to preconceived notions of beauty and body image.
- Many overweight people, for example, tend to avoid looking in mirrors or even posing for photographs.
- Naturally, these people are not phobic, but they try to avoid mirrors as much as possible. The difference is that: they don’t necessarily mind having mirrors around them.
Most cases of fear of mirror phobia have their roots in the early past.
- The first known fear of mirrors dates to humanity’s fear of calm waters.
- Before modern advances, humans did not use mirrors but saw their reflection in the calm waters of lakes, rivers, etc.
- They often thought that “their soul was staring at them.”
- This gave rise to the concept that the ‘soul could be separated from the body even before death.’
- Many folk tales were also developed around this concept.
- For example, there is a story about the disturbance in a character’s reflection in a lake that eventually leads to an impending doom or disaster.
- This led to the association between shattered/broken mirrors and horrible luck/death. To date, a broken mirror implies “seven years of bad luck.”
- Many African tribes also associate reflections in dark, calm waters with death.
- They avoid looking into such waters as they fear crocodiles / evil spirits could kill them by snapping their reflection and taking their souls away.
In various cultures, children under one year of age are not shown a mirror due to the belief that they could die when their reflection is shown.
- Similarly, in certain cultures, the mirrors of homes where death has occurred are kept veiled, so mourning family members do not see their reflection (or they too would soon die).
- Brides are prohibited from looking in a mirror when dressing in their wedding dress. (However, as a couple, the newlyweds can look in the mirror together as this is auspicious.)
- Thus, the Mirrors have many superstitions associated with them.
- These superstitious beliefs can easily create fear of mirrors in young or anxious individuals.
Catoptromancy or mirror divination was a type of black magic practiced by people in the early 17th century.
- Practitioners would immerse metal mirrors in the water and study the reflection of the sick person to decide whether they would live or die.
- Pop culture, media, books, and movies (for example, Oculus) show evil spirits trapped in mirrors coming to haunt people.
- Vampires have no reflection as they do not have a soul. All these concepts could also trigger the fear of mirror phobia.
Some schizophrenic individuals or people with adrenal insufficiency also tend to have claustrophobia.
Symptoms of fear of mirrors
An exaggerated or persistent fear of mirrors can cause many symptoms such as:
- Avoid mirrors
- Tremors / shaking
- Thoughts of death or dying
- Screaming, crying, trying to run away
- Fast heartbeat, shallow breathing, dilated pupils, excessive sweating
- Total anxiety or panic attacks
Treat the fear of mirrors
- Taking small steps is the best way to overcome any fear. The same goes for claustrophobia.
- Gradual exposure therapy can help individuals progress slowly to overcome their fear once and for all. In this therapy, one begins by looking at mirror images, thinking in mirrors, and then eventually progresses to holding onto and looking into oneself.
- Homeopathic remedies, herbs, etc. They can also help ease the anxiety associated with the phobia. Lavandula, chamomile, Melissa Officinalis, etc., are some examples.
- Talk therapy, online and offline support groups, etc., can help the phobic unleash their fears. Family and friends should support the phobic individual rather than tease or tease him.
- NLP therapy, hypnotherapy, and psychotherapy are other effective methods of treating the fear of mirrors.
Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.