Pixabay | Laura Smith

Taking Too Many Selfies Is Recognized As A Psychological Condition

Amy Pilkington 16 Feb 2020

There was a time when snapping a quick pic of yourself was a whole process. If you were trying to do it alone, you had to master the timer on your camera and then manage to pose perfectly at the exact second the shutter closes.

Then there was the fun of trying to get group photos when traveling, where you're stuck trusting a stranger to take it.

The advent of digital cameras helped.

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At least then you weren't limited to the number of photos per roll of film and the screens allowed you to check the results on the scene.

But it's pretty safe to say that once cellphones had half-decent cameras — and quickly afterwards, front-facing ones — all bets were off.

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Since then, the popularity of the selfie has only grown.

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As have the complaints about the trend and the word itself.

Still, most of us can agree that there is spectrum of selfie-ness. there are people who share the occasional one amongst a wide range of social media posts, and there are people who have a grid full of duck lips.

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Back in 2014, an article by the Adobo Chronicles made the rounds of viral media that claimed "selfitis" was a new mental disorder.

Unsplash | Priscilla Du Preez

Though they cited the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the article itself was a hoax.

The hoax disorder had three forms:

Borderline selfitis: "taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day but not posting them on social media"

Acute selfitis: "taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day and posting each of the photos on social media"

Chronic selfitis: "uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self round the clock and posting the photos on social media more than six times a day"

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Most people chuckled and moved on, but a pair of researchers took the hoax as inspiration.

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It makes sense, since the virility of the hoax proved that while fake, the idea of "selfitis" definitely struck a nerve.

Janarthanan Balakrishnan of the Thiagarajar School of Management in Madura, India and Mark D. Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham teamed up to study the idea for real.

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They recruited 225 students from two different Indian university management schools.

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Using the three faux diagnoses as a starting point, they split the students into four categories: borderline, acute, chronic, and none of the above.

Then they began asking questions meant to help develop a Selfitis Behavior Scale (SBS).

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The questions looked at all the possible reasons one might take a selfie and share it.

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Those reasons were categorized as: environment enhancement, social competition, attention seeking, mood modification, self-confidence, and subjective conformity. Each question was answered on a scale of 0-5.

Once they had the specific questions identified, they then retested with 400 more students to ensure that the SBS worked as intended.

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And it did!

Unsplash | Steve Gale

The researchers published their findings in An Exploratory Study of “Selfitis” and the Development of the Selfitis Behavior Scale.

They do note that more research is required:

"The findings demonstrate that the SBS appears to be a reliable and valid instrument for assessing selfitis but that confirmatory studies are needed to validate the concept more rigorously."

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So what does this all mean?

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Though the idea of "selfitis" began as a hoax, the development of the SBS shows that there is a spectrum upon which a person's drive to take and share selfies can be measured. Which could aid mental health workers in helping patients.

Of course, any "addiction" comes down to whether the person's actions are negatively affecting their life or health, or that of the people around them. So how many selfie addicts would be looking for help is unknown.

h/t: Forbes

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