Following on Salma’s post about her fear of snakes, I’ve decided to post about one of my onwn phobias. Catoptrophobia is the fear of mirrors, and it actually surprised me to find out how many people actually have this fear. According to MedicineNet.com
Sufferers experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational. Because their fear often is grounded in superstitions, they may worry that breaking a mirror will bring bad luck or that looking into a mirror will put them in contact with a supernatural world inside the glass.
Psychology makes a distinction between catoptrophobia–a fear of mirrors–and eisoptrophobia, which is a fear of seeing your own reflection.
I suffer from this phobia, but strangely enough, not all mirrors affect me. The closest I can get to the feeling of this phobia is that I’m scared to look into certain mirrors, purely because of the fear that I’ll see something other than what I expect. Sometimes I’m scared to have my back to the mirror, and I can FEEL the hands coming out of the mirror at me, or feel the eyes from the mirror watching me. Is the phobia debilitating? Might be to some people, but personally I try to avoid having my reflection in the mirror, or avoid looking at the mirror.
Terry Pratchett, in his book Witches Abroad, discussed the idea that anyone looking into a mirror loses a part of their soul to the mirror, and I think this is also part of the phobia, that a part of me will be irretrievably lost to the mirror.
Much has been said about the mysticality and deception of mirrors in the past: Snow White, Narcissus, Stephen Donaldson’s “Mordant’s Need” series, and more recently Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” with it’s famous Mirror of Erised. Mirrors have always been seen to have some quality about them that makes them “otherworldly”, and occasionally, malevolent. And in many cases, the mirror is said to reflect not just what you see, but what isn’t there. Or maybe just a truth that we don’t necessarily want to face.
Recently, I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of the fear, because in the front of my mind I know it’s irrational (which is why it’s defined as a phobia–all phobias are irrational. So I’ve dealt with it like thus: I’ll stand in front of the offending mirror, look deep within it, and swear at it, daring the apparation that my mind fears so much to make an appearance. Yes, I suppose I’m scared that the mirror will call my bluff, but to date, nothing’s happened. And the more I do this (which is, I suppose, the hardcore way to go), the less I hope the fear will affect me. And I hope eventually that I can look into a mirror one day and laugh at how silly this all was.
Do mirrors affect you in any way? Or have you actually ever SEEN something in a mirror that wasn’t part of what was being reflected?
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