Recently, the American Psychiatric Association confirmed that taking selfies is a mental disorder, going as far as to term the condition “selfitis.” The APA defines it as: “the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.”
Dr. Sanam Hafeez is an NYC Clinical Psychologist who says that, “selfies may be an outward expression of a person’s existing self-esteem issues or feelings that they are not good enough. Some people who post selfies are seeking attention, positive feedback and social validation. Certain insecurities make them vulnerable and lead them to rely too heavily on the response of others.”
Are You Selfie-Addicted? Take the Quiz!
Answer Yes or No
* I often spend more time taking selfies than I meant to
* I would find it very difficult to make it through a day without taking a selfie
* I spend a lot of time thinking about selfies or planning how I will take selfies
* I feel an urge to take selfies more and more
* I take and post selfies in order to forget about or avoid doing other things
* I’ve tried to cut down on the amount of selfies I take without success
* When I post a new selfie, I am very disappointed if no one comments on it
* I take selfies so much that it has had a negative impact on my relationships, job or studies
* I imagine everything I do as a selfie
* Posting selfies makes me feel more important
If you answer yes to 2- 4: It’s time to step back and evaluate your use of selfies.
If you answered yes to over 4: It’s no longer about selfies. Overuse of selfies (or any form of social media) may mean you are using short-term gratification at the expense of more important goals.
Dr. Hafeez says that, “selfies could be toxic for people with a more serious mental illness like body dysmorphia, which in extreme cases can lead to suicide. Somebody with body dysmorphia, no matter how good they look and no matter how many people tell them, they don’t hear it, it doesn’t matter. A selfie addict does kind of the same thing as they seek to perfect their pictures, getting just the right angle, the pose, the right lighting.”
Selfies lead to an increase in plastic surgery.
A follow-up study of 2014 data stated that the “surge in self-awareness and an increase in requests for aesthetic procedures (especially in the under 30 set) sired by ‘selfies’ shows no sign of declining.” Dr. John Zannis, a New Bern, North Carolina board certified plastic surgeon explains that the selfie craze can propel people toward plastic surgery because, “the nose looks bigger in close-ups. All selfies are close-ups, so people immediately notice their nose.”
As a plastic surgeon, Dr. Zannis spends time talking with patients to ascertain if their aesthetic concerns are real or imagined. The patients who are spurred to plastic surgery by selfies will often point out their flaws in each selfie, which raises a red flag for Dr. Zannis. Sometimes Dr. Zannis will refuse to perform surgery on a patient with excessive selfies if he believes it is not a real image of what they actually look like in person.
Dr. Hafeez suggests keeping a selfie journal for a week and writing down how you’re feeling and what you’re doing when you want to take a selfie. This will help you evaluate whether you are overusing selfies to self-medicate bad moods or anxiety, trying to satisfy the need for social connection, or just avoiding getting your work done.