Are you suffering from selfitis?

 Selfies are a form of self-expression. People feel compelled to take selfies as it gives them a sense of self-importance.

Published: 20th February 2019 10:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st February 2019 06:34 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU :  Selfies are a form of self-expression. People feel compelled to take selfies as it gives them a sense of self-importance. Other factors that play a major role are mood enhancement (feeling better while taking selfies), reinforcement from peers (likes on social media), attention seeking and the need to fit in with one’s social group. 

If you are obsessed with selfies, chances are that you might have “selfitis”. Psychologists say selfitis is a genuine mental condition that makes a person feel compelled to constantly take photos and post them on social media. Few years ago, stories appeared in the media appealing that selfitis should be classed as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.

It has been observed that adolescents and young adults are more prone to selfitis and its related behaviours. On further analysis, it has been found that women tend to post more own selfies and group selfies than men. While these are not high risk characteristics, a few signs to watch out for would be the constant need to take a couple of selfies every day and post them on social media and a constant need to be admired and receive likes from peers. Personality traits such as extraversion and social exhibitionism are linked to increased selfie taking behaviours. 

While it is an established fact that very limited research has been done on selfie taking so far to figure out as to whether it could turn into obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), is yet to be documented. While selfie addiction is a term that is being popularly used, it had not been classified as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. Therefore, the criteria for how much is too much still needs to be established and categorised. Only large scale research with reliable data will be able to point out when the problem has gone overboard.

Having almost 30 per cent of India’s population below 30 years, India is moving towards an ever-expanding young adult population. Massive growth in adoption of internet and proliferation of smartphones is witnessing tremendous rise in social media usage among teenagers and young adults. Indians accounts for a significant percentage of selfie-related deaths as well. 

The immediate pleasure and gratification that arises from taking selfies overrides any sense of caution that people need to take. This in turn makes them overlook potential dangers which unfortunately result in causalities.If people find that they are unable to control their urge of taking selfies and are preoccupied with other associated aspects, they would benefit from counselling and consulting mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. It is always better to do a self-analysis first to assess the level of severity resulting in ‘selfitis’.

The desire of self-worth can be fulfilled by other immaterial means than a selfie. In case of children, it is important that their social media activities and smartphones activities should be monitored by parents at regular intervals. Further, proper counselling session should be conducted with the purpose of keeping one’s life happy by filling the voids. People with high level of severity need to be more involved in group activities to enhance the feeling of togetherness. 

(The author is a consultant clinical psychologist, Vikram Hospital Bengaluru)


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