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Can Selfie Addiction be Considered as a Mental Illness?

This is a selfie generation! Everyone is fond of taking selfies, and posting them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Is there a need to worry about this booming trend? 'Cause psychiatrists have linked selfies to narcissism and mental illness. PsycholoGenie finds out all about the selfie addiction.
PsycholoGenie Staff
'Selfie' [noun. A picture taken of oneself by oneself, with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media] was declared as '2013 word of the year' by Oxford Dictionaries. The year 2014 was named as the 'Year of the Selfie' on Twitter.

Selfies have become a cultural trend. Right from celebrities and presidents, to common people, everyone has this craze. Selfie's furor has gushed even in the entertainment world and there is an American series named 'Selfie', and an album of the same name. So much so, there are institutes that have started offering the selfie course, in which they teach the art of perfecting self portraiture. Is it just a fad, or does this have dangers involved?

Let me take a Selfie!!!

Be it celebrities flaunting their grand lifestyles, or normal people capturing moments and sharing on social networking sites, selfies are more than a trend! Visited a new place, take a selfie. Mesmerized with a five star loo? Grab a selfie! Getting bugged? Needless to say, selfie is on its way. In fact, did you just take a shower? Perfect time to click a selfie and post it on your bookmarked site!

We may laugh at our friends posting their pictures with pouts every hour, changing their DPs abruptly, or glower over our favorite celebrities being obsessed with clicking selfies, but the recent research linking selfies to mental disorder can't be neglected.

On a serious note, something that started with just a click has deeper, severe problems if ascertained.

How does my Selfie look?

Psychologists are of the opinion that a mere habit of taking pictures of self till the 'picture perfect' moment may be a sign of narcissism.These overly self-obsessed social media addicts are in a perpetual need of appreciation. They may be depressed, anxious, suffering from loneliness, or self-loving individuals who quest for attention to fill in the emotional void in their lives created by the prolonged exposure to social media.

Feeling the need to get noticed and appreciated is human tendency. Capturing a selfie in a certain pose, at a certain place, is one of the easiest ways to gain attention. The hidden caption behind such selfies is, "Please recognize me, my looks, my talent, admire the way I spend my life. And, if you won't, I would find a better place to share them."

Studies have also linked selfie addiction to low esteem. A Boston-based psychologist opined that taking a lot of selfies gives an indication of low confidence in that person.

Another psychologist from London said that this is not just an addiction, but a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Research done by VoucherCloud app revealed that around 60% of youngsters (regular selfie-takers) have a feeling of low esteem behind their smile.

Selfie Addiction in News

Danny Bowman, a 19-year-old teen, supposing-ly Britain's first selfie addict, has been in the news for a while. His selfie addiction made him spend 10 hours a day, clicking up to 200 pictures on his smartphone.

Danny said his urge to get a perfect selfie made him suicidal. He lost his friends; he was thrown off his school; he lost his health, all 'cause of this addiction. The only thing he cared about was looking perfect, which made him lose 2 stones, eventually to get a perfect snap. He was sensitive to criticism, and felt miserable if he'd get negative comments about his body or picture, making him take more number of selfies.

Doctors opined that this is a severe case of OCD and body dysmorphic disorder, in which the patient feels a lot of anxiety regarding his appearance. Danny's been treated, and is there to help people suffering from the same trauma. But this was an extremely difficult phase of his life.

Danny's father said, "There is a huge lack of understanding about the dangers social networking and mobile technology can pose if a young person already has any insecurities - which most do."

David Veal (a consultant psychiatrist who was dealing with Danny's case) told The Sunday Mirror, "Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with body dysmorphic disorder since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take selfies."

Another research by the Ohio State University says, men who take and share a lot of selfies on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, possess psychopathic traits like lack of empathy.

There was also a buzz that the APA (American Psychiatric Association) has waved a confirming flag to selfies causing mental illness. And that they have named this disorder as selfitis, which has three stages: borderline selfitis (clicking pictures of oneself at least thrice, but not posting on social media), acute selfitis (taking selfies at least thrice a day and posting all on networking sites), and chronic selfitis (an uncontrollable urge to click selfies and post them). However, this was found to be a hoax, but it definitely has its set of after-effects.

Selfie Addiction Help

People habitual to clicking selfies is actually a cry for help.

Psychologists have suggested a way: to maintain a selfie journal. All you have to do is note down everything that's on your mind when you're about to take a selfie.

Analyze if this is a way to satisfy your need for social recognition, or is it a way to deal with mood swings and anxiety.

If you feel you're on your way to getting addicted, please take a pause. Talk to someone you know. Consult a psychologist or a counselor. Give a break to your smartphone and lessen your visits on picture uploading sites.