Sometimes when I look into a mirror, I see a vague vision of a woman standing behind me and when I turn my head she's gone: there is no one.

I don't think the word is haunted because I don't believe in ghosts. I am not superstitious. I'm a physic undergraduate, I work on string theory.

Then I remember it only occurs in lucid dreams. And I now have spectrophobia.

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    You are being schizophrenic. And it seems to be serious. Either that or some woman in your home is playing games with you.
    – Mohit
    Jan 30, 2013 at 10:21
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    And I don't think you can call it a phenomenon. It happens only in your head. It is an hallucination.
    – Mohit
    Jan 30, 2013 at 10:30
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    Can't think of a suitable SE site for this. Perhaps skepticsSE?
    – Kris
    Jan 30, 2013 at 11:14
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    @cartogram If you could detect the electromagnetic radiation reflected in a mirror, you would be able to detect it looking at the object itself. Sorry, but this is a hallucination.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 30, 2013 at 11:15
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    Working on a unified theory of physics of the universe and having weird misconceptions about fundamentals like wavelengths of light reflected from the mirror? tsk, tsk.
    – SF.
    Jan 30, 2013 at 11:37

3 Answers 3


Barring any explanation that depends upon a phenomenon outside of your own mind, the remaining explanation of the epiphenomenon is that it is a mild hallucination.

(We might be tempted to call this a "mirror hallucination", however that term is already used to refer to a hallucination where we see ourselves somewhere other than in a mirror, so is probably best avoided).

Dr. Oliver Sacks argues in his recent book, Hallucinations, that hallucinations are more common than often supposed, because they are under-reported due to stigma or fear of being considered as having a serious mental condition. This under-reporting in turn adds to the misconception that hallucinations only happen with serious mental conditions (or heavy intoxication), and so on, in a cycle that maintains this under-reporting. According to Sacks, having mild hallucinations need not be particularly troublesome.

However, it remains that hallucinations can indeed be caused by psychological or neurological complaints, so if the experience has only begun recently, or if it increases, it could well be worth seeking medical advice.


If you believe it to be somewhat real, the word would be "apparition", if you think your mind is playing tricks on you, "hallucination" should do it.

Instead of asking for a label or a comfortable/convenient explanation, you should probably remove your assumptions and investigate:

Can you reproduce the phenomenon? Is there any pattern to it? Does it occur at a specific time of the day or at random? After eating a specific type of food? Does the woman always look the same? Is it always in the same mirror or does it happen with other mirrors? Do you have other, similar experiences? Have you had a recent head injury? Headaches? Does it happen only when you are tired? Are you sleeping enough? Are you taking any drugs (incl. prescription drugs)? ...

Pull the strings and get to the bottom of it. If you're lucky, it's just a dirty mirror and a case of not sleeping enough.


I would use the term Delusion maybe, because what you see is the "projection" of your mind (but only when you look in the mirror).

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