Mirrors are overhyped and underperform.

The use of mirrors in feng shui is fairly recent, and full of bad information about optics and physics. A mirror is actually a substitute for reflections off water — and a very poor substitute at that. Reflections off water typically do not induce madness.

Some of the McFengshui interest in mirrors has to do with the occult. Mirrors were used for scrying — mirror-gazing (a form of divination) — in Europe during the Middle Ages, and in Classical Greece. Scrying developed from divination methods of gazing at reflections off water.

McFengshui as medical malpractice

McFengshui alleges mirrors are the “aspirin of feng shui.” Like most of McFengshui the analogy is over-generalized. When you have cancer, a bacterial infection, or a bleeding ulcer, taking aspirin is of little help — you need a medical expert. Real feng shui does not use mirrors to cure problems such as robbery, family violence, infidelity, or drug abuse. In many cases, the presence of mirrors makes things worse.

In authentic feng shui, practitioners typically consider mirrors as “perpetual disturbances,” in the words of Master Lam Kam Chuen, and constantly at work. Mirrors are considered responsible for disrupting sleep patterns, creating and sustaining emotional disturbances.

There is research to back up this claim. Most of it has nothing to do with eisoptrophobia (mirror phobia).

  • Consider the mirror-gazing that is common with body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other delusions. These are all primitive ways of expressing anxiety, but these expressions use mirrors. Sufferers of BDD are known to spend hours in front of a mirror, and the mirror creates a feedback loop for the cycle of discontent.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder describes other people (typically males) with mental health issues related to mirrors — they think they are special and the mirror proves it.
  • People with Capgras Syndrome have their own problems with mirrors, as do people suffering gender identity disorder. (Feng shui rules for mirrors might help!)
  • A 20-year study conducted at a Swedish mental hospital, found in E.O. Wilson’s book The Biophilia Hypothesis, showed that mirrors were the first objects attacked by the mentally agitated and unstable. No one attacked pictures of natural settings.
  • One positive effect of the self-consciousness that mirrors arouse — you may choose more healthy foods if you eat facing a mirror.

Mirrors as human repellent

In the 1990s, McFengshui practitioners always advised people to place a mirror directly opposite a main door. Supposedly this would repel bad people (which could be anyone from your mother-in-law to the landlord).

However, based on research, it is more likely to cause people to enter the house and attack the mirror.

Mirrors are a tool — like a hammer or an ironing board

Mirrors are designed to provide a “reality check” on our appearance. They aren’t aspirin.

In general, the proper place for tools is out of the way until needed. Because people don’t typically congregate in bathrooms or closets, and attend to their appearance in bathrooms and in or near closets, those are ideal places to install mirrors. Feng shui practitioners issue this advice because it is common sense: put the tool near its point of use.

It doesn’t seem sensible to store a hammer in the bedroom or an ironing board in the bathroom. It doesn’t seem sensible to store an “appearance-checking device” in locations where you do not perform tasks related to your appearance. I realize that narcissists take issue with fengshui rules for mirrors, but there are no “mirror police” to enforce these guidelines.

Cheap Tricks

Interior designers and architects employ mirrors as a cheap way to make small areas seem larger. The issues are available space and profit margins. You are under no obligation to accept this design solution as final or binding.

My experience (and that of other practitioners) is that mirrors on sliding closet panels are a frequent upset to humans of all ages, and to many pets. All that reflectivity isn’t natural — and animals instinctively know that.

Isn’t it all about the appropriate spot for something?

Just as some people might store hammers in the bedroom and ironing boards in the bathroom, people might want mirrors where feng shui consultants do not feel they are appropriate. That’s life.

Conflict arises only when people call in a feng shui consultant, and they have to examine their love of mirrors. Or when their love of mirrors turns things so bad that they call a fengshui consultant.

Shape and Angle

The shape of a mirror, whether it is convex or concave, and the precision of its angle are critical. If you have an area with Bullfight Sha and it contains mirrors that reflect around the room, you are considered to be increasing the sha. So unless your livelihood is related to argument — that is, unless you are someone like an attorney, who argues for a living — the combination of the mirrors and the Bullfight Sha is a very bad thing.

And how do you know whether you have Bullfight Sha? It doesn’t exist in McFengshui (such as “Feng Shui for Dummies”). You can’t tell without having your house analyzed by a traditional feng shui practitioner. (There are some common symptoms, which competent practitioners know.)

Whether you should install mirrors outside of their intended area of use depends on your house — have it analyzed.

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