Staring Into A Mirror Can Cause Serious Psychological Harm

Spending prolonged periods of time gazing at your reflection can cause serious psychological harm, even in those with no history of anxiety over their looks, says a new study from the Institute of Psychiatry in London. The full report has been published in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy.

The idea that mirrors can be triggers for lowered self-esteem is nothing new, but the study authors point out that the assumption has always been that only those with preexisting anxieties would be negatively affected. The most serious of these conditions is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), whose sufferers experience constant, permanent worry about their appearance. Against expectations, however, the team found that even individuals in the healthy control group demonstrating lowered satisfaction if enough time was spent in front of the mirror.

In the two-phase experiment, 25 healthy persons and 25 BDD patients were first asked to glance at themselves for 25 seconds. A customized questionnaire administered before and after the session tracked overall satisfaction with one’s looks and shape. As expected, the healthy volunteers showed no sign of lowered satisfaction after only 25 seconds, and the BDD sufferers did. In the second stage, however, both groups were asked to spend ten minutes looking into the mirror. When they did this, both groups showed signs of appearance-related anxiety.


Researchers hypothesize that the results might arise from the tendency for healthy people to focus on the parts of themselves that they like, while BDD sufferers emphasize their negatives. Given enough time in front of a mirror, though, most people will find things about themselves that they are less happy about.

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Pexels

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