This might be coming as a bad news to selfie-takers as psychologists have warned that ‘Selfitis’ – the obsessive need to post selfies on social media – is now a mental disorder; meaning it could have a negative impact on our mental health.
According to the International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), Selfitis is an obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of oneself and post them on social media as a way to makeup for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.
In a more literal sense, it means those of our friends who usually flood their Instagram and other social media feeds with pictures of themselves – which were actually taken by them – may be suffering from a genuine “psychological complex”.
The term “Selfitis” was first coined in 2014 in a satirical article but has now been recognised by the American Psychiatric Association.
After the research, they have now confirmed that the ‘selfitis’ does indeed exist and have even developed a ‘Selfitis Behaviour Scale’ which can be used to assess its severity.
Speaking on this, Dr Mark Griffiths, Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction in Nottingham Trent University’s Psychology Department, said:
“A few years ago, stories appeared in the media claiming that the condition of selfitis was to be classed as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.
“Whilst the story was revealed to be a hoax, it didn’t mean that the condition of selfitis didn’t exist. We have now appeared to confirm its existence and developed the world’s first Selfitis Behaviour Scale to assess the condition.”
Through the study, which was carried out with 400 participants from India, as the country has the most users on Facebook, the Selfitis Behaviour Scale was developed, which can be used to determine how severely people are afflicted by the condition.
It is understood that the scale, which runs from one to 100, was developed using a large number of focus groups with 200 participants to determine what factors drove selfitis.
Using a scale of one, for strongly disagree, to five for strongly agree, people can determine how acute their selfitis is by responding to statements such as “sharing my selfies creates healthy competition with my friends and colleagues”, and “I feel more popular when I post my selfies on social media”.
The findings, first published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, confirmed that there are three levels of selfitis.
Borderline cases are people who take selfies at least three times a day, but do not post them on social media. Next is the ‘acute’ phase of the disorder where the pictures are posted. In the third ‘chronic’ stage, people feel an uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self round the clock, posting them more than six times a day.
Researchers also found that typical ‘selfitis’ sufferers were attention seekers, often lacking in self confidence, who were hoping to boost their social standing and feel part of a group by constantly posting images of themselves.
For study participants, 34 percent had borderline selfitis, 40.5 percent acute and 25.5 percent chronic. The obsessive selfie-taking was more likely to hit males at 57.5 percent compared to 42.5 for females. Less surprisingly, the 16-to-20-year-old age group, the youngest in the study, was also the most susceptible. Nine percent took more than eight selfies a day while about 25 percent shared at least three images on social media every day.
Lending voice on the matter, Dr Janarthanan Balakrishnan, a research associate from Nottingham Trent’s Department of Psychology, said:
“Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them, and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviours.
“Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behaviour, and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.”
However, not everyone in the field is convinced:
Speaking to The Telegraph, Mark Salter, a spokesman for The Royal College of Psychiatrists, said that selfitis doesn’t exist, and suggested it is irresponsible to try and label human behaviour in this way.
“There is a tendency to try and label a whole range of complicated and complex human behaviours with a single word,” he said. “But that is dangerous because it can give something reality where it really has none.”
Also speaking on the matter, Sir Simon Wessely, Professor of Psychological Medicine at King’s College London, was more skeptical about the proposed new condition.
He said: “The research suggests that people take selfies to improve their mood, draw attention to themselves, increase their self confidence and connect with their environment.
“If that is true then this paper is itself an academic ‘selfie’.”
Meanwhile, there are other technologically related mental health disorders which have been identified in recent years.
Here are the mental health disorders below:
- Nomophobia; the fear of not being near a mobile phone
- Technoference; the constant intrusion of technology in everyday life
- Cyberchondria; feeling ill after searching online for symptoms of illness
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