Selfies as an Addiction?

Two things prompted me to write this post: 1. an article that my friend sent me on the topic and 2. our class’ recent discussions on all types of addictions.

So first, what is a selfie?

Selfie: (noun) A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. (Oxford Dictionary)

The article my friend sent me stated that selfies are in fact linked to narcissism, addiction and mental illness. When I first read this article I questioned it’s validity a bit. But, upon further thought on the subject, it started to make sense. If a person were in constant search for the “perfect” selfie, yet never took a selfie that fulfilled this need, they could become frustrated and allow the fact that they couldn’t take a “perfect” selfie affect the way that they viewed themselves. This inner frustration could fuel the constant search for a perfect selfie, and lead to obsessive behavior surrounding that search.

Upon further investigation into the subject, I found that many articles have been written about selfies and their link to addiction and mental health, with one of the big linkages to mental health and selfies being Body Dysmorphic Disorder. One article quoted psychiatrist David Veal stating: “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.” (realfarmacy, 2014). The article explained that a possible explanation for this might be the need for validation caused by the disorder or part of the attention-seeking behavior of the individual. As an example, this article, as well as others, used the case of a 19-year-old boy from England who tried to commit suicide after realizing that he could not take the perfect selfie. He has also been diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Should this compulsion to take selfies and post them on social media be considered an addiction? Or is it just a symptom of Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or both? Some researchers think that it should be considered its’ own addiction, and, with increasing awareness of all the different types of addiction, why couldn’t it be?

If you want to learn more, here is the link to original article that I read: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/selfies-linked-narcissism-addiction-mental-illness-say-scientists-1441480

and here is one from the Huffington Post that includes a video link to the 19-year-old boy talking about his selfie addiction: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/25/selfie-addiction-mental-illness_n_5022090.html

If you want to learn even more, google “selfie mental health,” and a multitude of articles will come up.

 

References:

Definition of selfie in English.: selfie: definition of selfie in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US). Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/selfie

Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness | REALfarmacy.com | Healthy News and Information. (2014, April 2). REALfarmacycom. Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://www.realfarmacy.com/scientists-link-selfies-to-narcissism-addiction-mental-illness/#uUJwGLVGg3aP6SMi.01

 

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