Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness

With the growing popularity of Facebook, Instagram and other social sites, all of us have become obsessed with capturing perfect photos of ourselves. We adjust the angle which would highlight our best features, and choose the right effect. In 2013, the process of taking photos has been revolutionized with the smartphone self-portrait or ‘selfie’ which is still popular today. In fact, you can see people taking selfies everywhere: on the bus, on the street, in cafes with their best friend etc. I must admit I do it too.

But, how many selfies a day is considered normal? Is one or two a day okay or is it something we should be concerned about? With incidents of Body Dysmorphic Disorder becoming more frequent, doctors and scientists established a link between selfies and the ways in which social sites has altered people’s perception of themselves.

For instance, a British 19-year-old boy tried to commit suicide because he couldn’t take the perfect selfie. He actually spent 10 hours a day taking up to 200 selfies, while losing 30 pounds and dropping out of school. He became obsessed with a picture in his mind of what he should look like and how others should see him, making him the first case in the UK with OCD, Body-Dysmorphia and selfie addiction. As part of his treatment, the patient’s iPhone was taken away at intervals of 10 minutes, which afterward increased to 30 minutes and then an hour.

This rise of digital narcissism has brought a lot of problems because it puts a tremendous pressure on people to attain unachievable goals. Wanting to be like big name stars, people seek more and more approval from others just to get someone to care about them. In fact, due to this combination of narcissism and low self-esteem, people who spend a good portion of their time in front of their cameras, actually want to get validation from the internet rather than themselves. And when they get what they want, this is only a continuation of the problem as they start to push themselves to seek bigger validation until they become mentally unwell.

The selfie addiction has also caught the attention of health professionals in Thailand. According to one of them, paying close attention to published photos, obsessing over who sees and comments on them, hoping to get as many likes as you can, is definitely a sign that ‘selfies’ are becoming a big problem. He also believes that this kind of behavior could lead to brain problems in the future.

This is why health experts advise people to gradually reduce the use of the internet as well as cell phones. I think we could all benefit from taking some time off the internet. So, if you believe that someone is a bit out of control with taking selfies, try to get them to limit the exposure to internet devices and hope that after some time, they’ll be back to taking a normal amount of selfies again.