Two psychologists said that taking too many selfies, or selfitis, is a real mental disorder or condition. It can be diagnosed as excessive selfie-taking, Mark Griffiths and Janarthanan Balakrishnan, psychologists, said in a study published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.
To assess how severe the condition is, the two developed a Selfitis Behavior Scale to survey the selfie behavior of 400 Indians, Business Insider reported. The two assessed how severe the condition was using three levels.
Three Levels of Selfitis
The first level of the mental disorder is the borderline cases. This is when a person takes selfies at least three times a day but does not post the photos on social media. Those who post the selfies belong to the acute level. People who make at least six selfie posts daily are considered chronic cases.
They are those who cannot control the urge to take their photos all the time. Such people usually suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to fit in with those around them. Balakrishnan, from the Thiagarajar School of Management, said they may show symptoms that are similar to other potentially addictive behaviors.
Irresponsible Labeling of Human Behavior
But Mark Salter, a spokesman for The Royal College of Psychiatrists, questioned the finding of Balakrishnan and Griffiths. He said the condition selfitis does not exist. He even said that it is irresponsible to attempt and label human behavior in that way.
Salter noted that some psychology experts tend to label a whole range of complicated and complex human behaviors with one word. He said that it is dangerous since it can give something a reality when there is none.
In 2014, a satire website, the Adobo Chronicles, wrote in 2014 that the American Psychiatric Association allegedly confirmed that selfitis is a mental disorder in which there is an obsessive-compulsive desire to take one’s photo to post on social media. Taking selfie was a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill in a gap in intimacy.
Although the article has been proven to be a hoax, it has led to more research into the subject. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not consider selfitis as a mental disorder, but the researchers developed the Selfitis Behavior Scale to measure how severe the condition is, Tech Times reported.
2nd Phase of the Study
In the second phase of the study, there were more than 700 Indian students who participated. Besides having the biggest number of Facebook users, India also has the biggest number of deaths from dangerous attempts to do selfies.
The participants scored themselves from 1 to 5, based on a set of statements. The volunteers who got high scores indicated that they have a higher chance of suffering from the condition of selfitis. These were for the Indian participants who checked two of the 20 statements that said they gained enormous attention by sharing their selfies on social media and taking more selfies to improve their mood and to make them happy.
Griffiths, from the Nottingham Trent University and a co-author or the study, pointed out that while the 2014 article was a hoax, it does not mean that the condition of selfitis does not exist. He said that the first Selfitis Behavior Scale just confirmed the existence of the disorder.
Griffiths added that the concept of taking a selfie might evolve over time as technology advances. He said that the six identified factors that apparently underlie selfitis in the present study are potentially useful in understanding human-computer interactions across mobile electronic devices.
The six factors are self-confidence, attention seeking, mood modification, environmental enhancement, subjective conformity, and social competition. The 20 statements that revolved around the six factors measure the Selfitis Behavior Scale from 1 to 100, The Epoch Times reported.
They said that selfitis apparently is another candidate to add to the expanding list of technology addictions. The roster includes internet addiction, online video game addiction, mobile phone addiction, and social media addiction.
The authors selected Indians for their volunteers because the country has the largest number of Facebook members and the number of fatalities due to selfies.
The latest victims, according to the New Indian Express, are two youths who died after they tried to take selfies on top of a 150-feet deep water tank in Meerut. It happened on December 17 in the Sainik Vihar area of the district.
The two students, who were in their 20s, slipped into the water thank as they tried to take a selfie over the water tank. Pankaj Kumar, the station house officer, said the two victims – identified as Shosit Singh and Rishabh Sharma – were rushed to the hospital but were declared dead. The two were animation students.
In November, a girl in Odisha died after she fell into the cooling pond of the Bokaro Steel Plant while taking a selfie.