Psychologists Warn That 'Selfitis' Is Now A Genuine Mental Disorder
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Everyone's got that mate who posts far too many selfies on their Insta account, despite not actually looking that different in each one.
Now psychologists have warned that 'selfitis' is a genuine mental condition and people who need to constantly share pictures of themselves on social media may actually need help.
Researchers at Nottingham Trent University and the Thiagarajar School of Management in India have even developed a scale to assess the seriousness of each case, as with other conditions like anxiety and depression.
Dr Mark Griffiths, a professor in behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent's Psychology department, said: "A few years ago, stories appeared in the media claiming that the condition of selfitis was to be classed as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.
"Whilst the story was revealed to be a hoax, it didn't mean that the condition of selfitis didn't exist. We have now appeared to confirm its existence and developed the world's first Selfitis Behaviour Scale to assess the condition."
The scale was developed using focus groups of people based in India. That's because the country has the most Facebook users and also the highest number of deaths due to taking selfies in dangerous places.
The findings, which have now been published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, confirmed that there are three levels of selfitis, set by where an individual falls on the scale.
Least serious are 'borderline' cases - that is, people who take selfies at least three times a day but don't post them on social media. People are said to have 'acute' selfitis if they actually post the pictures.
The most serious stage of the condition is 'chronic' selfitis, where people feel so compelled to take photos of themselves that they post them more than six times a day.
Researchers explained that people who suffer from selfitis are generally attention-seekers with low-self confidence who look to boost their social standing by posting pictures. Might be worth checking in with your mates, then.
Dr Janarthanan Balakrishnan, a research associate from Nottingham Trent's psychology department, said: "Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to 'fit in' with those around them, and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviours.
"Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behaviour, and what can be done to help people who are the most affected."
Selfitis is the latest of the new technology-related mental disorders to have been identified in recent years as tech continues to take over our lives.
Others include 'nomophobia' (the fear of not being near a mobile phone), 'technoference' (the constant intrusion of technology in everyday life) and 'cyberchondria' (feeling ill after searching online for symptoms of illness).
However, other academics aren't convinced that selfitis is actually a thing, with one going so far to call the paper 'an academic selfie'. Ouch.
"The research suggests that people take selfies to improve their mood, draw attention to themselves, increase their self confidence and connect with their environment," said Sir Simon Wessely, Professor of Psychological Medicine at King's College London.
"If that is true then this paper is itself an academic 'selfie'."
Dr Mark Salter, a spokesman for The Royal College of Psychiatrists, added that not only does selfitis not exist, but it also shouldn't exist.
"There is a tendency to try and label a whole range of complicated and complex human behaviours with a single word," he said. "But that is dangerous because it can give something reality where it really has none."