The Mirror Fixation Challenge

What is it called when your brain starts seeing shapes and changes your face when fixing your reflection for too long? Well, that is a question coming up often and here is the answer!

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall What’s Wrong With You?

I developed a mirror phobia called eisoptrophobia. My phobia is due to self-image issues. It can lead to dramatic changes in someone’s life. When I lost all of my excess weight because of my body dysmorphia, I still wasn’t looking at myself in a mirror. 

I knew what I looked like despite avoiding cameras and trying to look away from mirrors as much as possible. However, one evening I brushed my teeth and looked in the mirror in the bathroom. It’s the only mirror in our house that isn’t covered. 

I was hypnotised. What I saw wasn’t me. I didn’t recognise my eyes, my mouth, my cheeks, and my facial shape were different. It was as if it was me, but something was off. There is a difference between a phobia of reflection and a mirror, but either way, my phobia grew and became debilitating.

When looking in a mirror, I now fear my reflection is not what I’ll see. This happens to many people, and while eisoptrophobia is a reasonably unknown phobia, it does grow with many challenges and myths surrounding focusing on your personal reflection.

The Most Famous Troxler Effect

The most common mirror disfiguration just by looking at your reflection is Troxler’s Fading or the Troxler Effect. Long psychological study short, it is an optical illusion affecting visual perception. 

Swiss Physician Ignaz Troxler
Swiss Physician Ignaz Troxler

We all know the tricks where we’re asked to look at one point in the centre of an image while there’s a spiral drawn around it, and somehow we see it spin. Fixing and focusing on a dot can play tricks on your brain, but when you look away, all returns to normal. 

Troxler Effect
Troxler Effect

The Troxler Effect phenomenon is not new. In fact, it dates back to 1804, when a physician and philosopher coined it. Ignaz Troxler is the man to whom you owe most of the fun optical illusions, or at least, the name. Staring at a dot, the image appears around it, or the room around you spins around. 

There is also a darker effect falling under the Troxler Effect that can play a twisted mind game. But the result does extend to reflections. Mirrors have many myths surrounding them, phobias, sins, and powerful tools in the occult. Here we are focusing on fixating on images and not mirrors.

Objects Are Moving, And Monsters Are Staring Back

Many people have questions when it comes to mirrors but also when it comes to their eyes, period. A common question is why, when focusing on a still object or picture, it will eventually move or vibrate? This has nothing to do with the Troxler Effect. 


That phenomenon is Oscillopsia, and it only means that the eyes of the person are misaligned, or the system controlling the balance is defective. It is not a problem but worth mentioning to your doctor or optometrist.

So, people are curious about those living with schizophrenia if they are at the mercy of the Troxler Effect. You must understand that schizophrenia is a vague and significant term encompassing many neurological variants. However, conducting studies with patients in a controlled environment is common.

Demonic Reflection
Demonic Reflection

People living with schizophrenia, of which ‘branch’ or ‘level’ I do not know, see reflections differently than others without. Subjects in the study shared about seeing distorted faces, if not monsters.

Faces could be archetypical faces or ones of dead relatives or animals. Those studies’ performances help understand mirror gazing from people suffering from various mental disorders.

Side Note: I would like to say that people living with schizophrenia deserve our gratitude as many answers come from studies conducted with their help. 

Are We Hallucinations Hallucinating Hallucinations?

Another common question that came my way concerned shapes and disturbing images appearing when someone closes their eyes. Patterns, lights, and colours are normal to perceive since your eyes adjust to the darkness from your eyelids. Usually, those are linked to the last things your brain registers from your surroundings. 

The phenomenon is called Hypnagogic Hallucinations if you are about to fall asleep. If you are awake, the name of the phenomenon is Hypnopompic Hallucinations. Both aren’t dangerous and are very much natural. However, if the disturbance is nightmarish and repetitive while being a stranger to you, it might be caused by a medical condition.

This coincides with my next question from people wondering about the Troxler Effect. Again, this has nothing to do with the effect. However, it is worth mentioning as it is a nightmarish one. It happened to me often when I would see spiders when not quite awake and not quite sleeping. 

It is most common when falling in and out of the sleeping state. It is part of the hypnagogic hallucinations because the person will likely fall asleep again. Our senses are at the mercy of our dreaming state, and we are tricked by optical illusions, and sadly, spiders are part of them. I do not have the scientific reason for spiders being the most common hallucination, but my theory would be instinct. 

We are naturally born with the survival instinct as infants to cry when seeing a spider or a snake. People usually grow out of the phobia, but our ‘stone age brain’ might retain it when we are most vulnerable.

Mental Disorders And Mirrors Aren’t A Good Combination

While living every day of my life with body dysmorphia, I can say that I learned to cover mirrors quickly. You can’t recognise yourself if you look at your face long enough. Every moment you stare at your body in the mirror, it changes and morphs into something worse than it was a second ago.

razor blade
razor blade

Also, mirrors can become the day’s main focus, not due to vanity but by trying to seek reassurance. Sadly, it’s always out of reach. Body dysmorphia is one mental disorder that often falls into another one, chronic anxiety. While body dysmorphia has one’s vision, morphing anxiety alone can lead to various vision distortions.

Mental Disorder

Many people asked if people suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder have an obsession with mirrors. First, it is essential to understand that people with narcissistic personality disorder have a mental disorder that has levels, too. While many can enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror and spend hours contemplating themselves, it’s not always vanity.

Narcissism is one of the most dangerous mental disorders all the way up with psychopathy—antisocial personality disorder—and dissociative personality disorder. Narcissists tend to objectify themselves and sometimes strongly believe that their appearance is more important than their character. The mirror can either confirm their beauty or destroy it, sending them into a self-harming spiral. Mirrors are the enemy here.

The Fun House Of Mirrors

Let Auntie OCD Vampire explain it all to you! This trend of people staring at their reflection in a mirror in the demonic hour, i.e., 3:00 AM to 4:00 AM, is gaining popularity. Of course, videos of warnings and testimonies of people who tried and are now institutionalised surface.

The Troxler Effect can be translated from an image to a mirror. Mirrors aren’t actually a hundred percent accurate. Let’s take the example of your voice. When you hear yourself when talking or after a recording, it sounds like two different people, right? That’s because no oxygen or ‘air’ is carrying your voice. You hear your tone muffled between your ears instead of ‘free.’ 


The same goes for your reflection. That’s why some people sometimes have difficulty recognising themselves in pictures versus reality. What we see in the mirror and what others see when looking at us is just as different as the sound of your voice.

Our brain doesn’t perceive the exact match of our reflection because mirrors aren’t perfect reflections, to begin with. Some mirrors are more flattering than others, and the lighting has much to do with it, too.

Let’s Get Back To The Demonic Hour Self-Gazing

Mirrors have been part of the occult since their first entrance in the fifth century BCE. Many people believed mirrors to be evil and that the reflection was either evil or a trap for the soul. The superstitions surrounding mirrors are quite similar to the ones history encounters with cameras centuries later.

An Exceptional English Example of an Antique Queen Anne Period Gilded Mirror
An Exceptional English Example of an Antique Queen Anne Period Gilded Mirror

The ability of scrying is not reserved for crystal balls alone, but mirrors, too, and black mirrors as well. No, black mirrors aren’t mirrors with a coat of black paint on them but are made of black onyx instead of regular aluminium, as we do not use silver anymore.


Scrying is precisely what the Troxler Effect is: focusing all your attention on one thing. Shapes form, change and morph into other imagery your brain is making up due to pareidolia. It can be a form of meditation in witchcraft or a tool for mediums. When I used it before developing body dysmorphia, it was to recall my dreams. 

But what happens when someone stares in the mirror during the demonic hour in the dark to trigger the paranormal? Could it simply be the Troxler Effect mixed with a case of pareidolia? It is hard to say as the person is looking at their reflection in a mirror they are used to. 

People Say They Saw Demons Or Themselves But Off

There is a practice that some occultists and witches perform. It consists of sitting in front of a mirror, usually lifesized, with some candles lit, and focusing on either past lives, what is to come, or something else. It involves imagery. In most witchcraft, mirrors fall under the ‘portal’ umbrella. 

Demonic Reflection
Demonic Reflection

However, some use the mirror to open doors. They shouldn’t be placing another mirror facing the latter with them in between. Like two doors facing one another, mirrors are a big ‘no-no’ in many pagan practices and demonology. If one doesn’t know what they are doing, like an Ouija board, it’s a free-for-all. School’s over, the bell rings, and all exits are busy.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

The demonic hour carries this name because people are mainly in the deepest state of their sleeping cycle. It is also the most common night hour for people to pass away as we are most vulnerable. So staring at our reflection in a mirror in the dark can be unsettling if one is sleepy, but what if you’re awake?

Mirrors aren’t an exact match of our appearance. We’ve established that. Now we’re adding darkness, making it harder to see, and staring, kickstarts the Troxler Effect and sends people to asylums. Not a good combination to have reliable results. But I’ll bite.

Can Your Reflection Truly Be Someone Else?

Yes. Your reflection can be someone else. To those who know Assassin’s Creed, you’ll see similarities here! In our DNA, we carry the genes of numerous ancestors we never knew and might be their spinning image. We can wake them up by triggering something, like staring too long at ourselves in a mirror and starting to distort into someone else.

Demonic Reflection
Demonic Reflection

Demonic entities aren’t all evil and can be quite friendly. You’re safe unless you purposely summon a demon with a mirror behind you and the proper sigil and all. In fact, as a demonologist, I can safely say that people should fear humans that died in the afterlife more than demons. With that said: DO NOT ATTEMPT SUMMONING DEMONS WITHOUT PROPER KNOWLEDGE FROM DEMONOLOGISTS.

Medieval — Plague Doctor

This trend has people fixing their reflection in the demonic hour. If seeing someone else, it is primarily your brain triggering an image of an ancestor of yours. If the eyes seem dead or your features somewhat off, remember that this ancestor is dead and isn’t your twin. You are seeing a copy of a copy explaining the ‘dead eyes’ or lifeless features. 

When it comes to ancestors surfacing, that ancestor might have been a monster when they lived. We all have at least one monster. I have King Richard III as one of mine! But, understand that while they were ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ to others, as their blood relative and a natural part of them, they are most likely to protect you and be of good counsel. They do not want you any harm.

So, Any Final Reflections On This Trend?

Everything depends on the approach of the player and their intention. I want to meet one of my ancestors and see their faces. But some want to see demons, and that’s what they’ll see due to the Troxler Effect. It isn’t dangerous and can be very rationally debunked. Like any trend on social media, it will fade, but it makes a boring night a little more spooky.

Schizophrenia - Mental Disorder
Mental Disorder

Mirrors are tools; ninety-nine percent of the time, they are very inoffensive. The other percent varies between cuts and possible portals. The difference is that I have experience scrying while most people doing the challenge don’t. If you carry on with this challenge, clear your mind, ask yourself what you wish to see and try to empty your mind so that the reflection is as authentic as possible.

The OCD Vampire

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