A Case Of Selfitis


Could obsessively taking selfies be a mental disorder?

Since the word ‘Selfie’ was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2013, it’s become a pervasive part of human existence. But when does it turn from fun photo sessions to an obsession? Psychology professor, Dr. Ramani Durvasula, based at California State University, expresses selfie addiction as an individual compelled to take self-portraits neurotically throughout the day and share the results with their online community. For example, the BBC ran a story about Juniad Ahmed who takes approximately 200 selfies daily.

The term ‘Selfitis’ may have been coined in 2014, but it wasn’t until 2017, that research on it was issued in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. The first findings were that it is, in fact, real and that it affects individuals lacking self-confidence. Predictably, people between the age of 16 and 20 are more affected.

Selfitis can be broken down into three categories: Borderline (take selfies but don’t post online), Acute (take selfies and upload) and Chronic (uncontrollable urge to take and upload multiple selfies in a day). The researchers developed the Selfitis Behaviour Scale (SBS) questionnaire that split the questions into factors that compel people to take selfies. By rating your intensity from one to five per question, add up the score and the higher the figure the more addicted you are.

The first part of the SBS test concerns environmental enhancement, where they try to establish why you take selfies in the first place; a form of self-expression, a mood booster or simply as a future trophy chest of memories.

The second part looks at the aspect of social competition. Are you sharing your self-portraits to increase your social status, because more likes directly impact your self-esteem, or because you’re engaged in contending with your colleagues and friends?

The test goes further to identify your levels of attention seeking, mood modification, what you consider subjective conformism and self-confidence. The attention seeking questions focus on establishing how sharing selfies makes the person view their online relationships. On the other hand, the mood modification and self-confidence take an introspective look. They try to figure out if the user relies on selfies to uplift their mood or battle stress. Perhaps they use it to build up their self-perception, or in the case of conformity, use it to find their standing in society and the world at large.

If you still need some convincing to take the test, consider this glaring red flag. Head to your phone album and count all the selfies in your folder. If they pass the 50 percent mark, you could have one of the categories of Selfitis. Another common indicator is that you can’t stop yourself from using filters religiously with all your photos. While tests have confirmed the existence of Selfitis, more research is required to fully grasp why individuals develop this obsessive conduct. Moreover, to produce solutions to treat those most affected by it.

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