Obsessive selfie-taking is now a mental disorder called ‘selfitis’
Selfitis was a term originally coined in a fake news story but that didn’t stop psychologists from actually researching the possibility. A group from Nottingham Trent University and Thiagarajar School of Management recently confirmed that selfitis is an actual mental behavior that leads to obsessive selfie-taking, publishing a research report on its findings in the International Journal of Mental Health Addiction.
According to the researchers, individuals suffering from selfitis use selfies to try to boost their confidence or their mood, along with other motivations like conforming and social competition. The researchers say that taking selfies can be an addictive behavior that also points to more underlying mental health issues, like low self-confidence.
To see if the hoax news story was actually based on an idea that could prove true, the researchers studied 200 individuals from the country with the highest rate of death by selfie, India. In that group, obsessive selfie-snapping correlated with six other behaviors, including looking for attention and the less-disastrous, looking to make a memory.
For study participants, 34 percent had borderline selfitis, 40.5 percent acute and 25.5 percent chronic. The obsessive selfie-taking was more likely to hit males at 57.5 percent compared to 42.5 for females. Less surprisingly, the 16-to-20-year-old age group, the youngest in the study, was also the most susceptible. Nine percent took more than eight selfies a day while about 25 percent shared at least three images on social media every day.
The research group also developed a set of questions that helps individuals determine whether their level of selfie-taking is abnormal, included at the end of the research report.
The researchers suggest that additional research could explore selfitis across different ages and geographic regions for a more representative sample.
“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 behaviors,” Dr. Janarthanan Balakrishnan told the New York Post. “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 behavior and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.”
The researchers also noted that selfitis isn’t the only hoax that ended up inspiring academic research — internet addiction followed a similar path.
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