These days, virtually everyone can admit taking a selfie once in a while, whether it be with a group of friends or alone. Most people consider taking selfies as a completely harmless act. At the peak of its fame, it was indeed harmless. However, things went out of control and it turns out that this trend became worrisome somewhere along the way.
This ongoing trend is socially acceptable and more and more people take selfies on a regular basis and put them on social media. However, research shows that this seemingly harmless act may be an indication of mental disorder.
“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 and post selfies on social media sites,” said psychiatrist Dr David Veal. “Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help patients to understand the reasons for their compulsive behaviour and then to learn how to treat it.
Body Dismorphic Disorder
Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder characterized by obsessive focus on a perceived appearance or a flaw. Those with BDD often scrutinize their appearance by comparing it with the appearance of other individuals.
One of the stories that gained a lot of media attention was the story of Danny Bowman, a British teenager who became virtually obsessed with taking selfies and posting them on Facebook and Instagram.
According to Addiction,
“BDD can lead people to feel so distressed and ashamed of their appearance that they seclude themselves from society. During his cycle of compulsive selfie-taking, Bowman dropped out of school and rarely went outside for six months. He also lost 15 pounds in an effort to make himself happier with his appearance and to improve his self-portraits.”
A study conducted at Ohio State University has found that men taking more selfies than others scored much higher on measures of narcissism.
Those with narcissistic personality disorder usually lack empathy for others, have an unreasonably high sense of importance, and desperately seek admiration from others.
In addition to this, men with higher score on measures of narcissism were notably editing their photos prior posting them in order to make themselves look much better and admirable.
According to Psych Central,
“It’s not surprising that men who post a lot of selfies and spend more time editing them are more narcissistic, but this is the first time it has actually been confirmed in a study,” said Jesse Fox, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of communication at The Ohio State University.
Apart from narcissism, the study done in Ohio also found that taking selfies was associated with psychopathy. It stated that posting countless selfies was closely linked to higher narcissism and psychopathy.
This particular study described themes of psychopathy like lack of empathy and impulsivity. Those scoring high in psychopathy are very likely to agree with statements such as “Payback needs to be quick and nasty.”
According to the study`s results, posting more selfies was linked to psychopathy, but not editing the photos was associated with narcissism.
According to Psychology Today, the researcher explained,
“That makes sense because psychopathy is characterized by impulsivity,” the study’s lead author, Jesse Fox, said. “They are going to snap the photos and put them online right away. They want to see themselves. They don’t want to spend time editing.”