Selfitis – The love for selfies is a mental disorder and requires psychiatric help
‘Selfitis’ is a genuine mental condition and people who feel compelled to continually post pictures of themselves on social media need help, psychologists have warned.
The term was first coined in 2014 to describe obsessive selfie-taking in a spoof news story. It suggested the American Psychiatric Association was considering classifying it as a disorder.
Researchers at Nottingham Trent University and Thiagarajar School of Management in India investigated whether there was any truth in the phenomenon.
They have now confirmed the ‘selfitis’ does indeed exist. They have even developed a ‘Selfitis Behaviour Scale’ which can be used to assess its severity.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction in Nottingham Trent University’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”.
Dr Griffiths added, “we confirm its existence and developed the world’s first Selfitis Behaviour Scale to assess the condition.”
The scale, which runs from one to 100 was developed using a large number of focus groups with 200 participants. This is to determine what factors drove selfitis. It was scale tested using a survey of 400 participants.
Participants were based in India because the country has the most users on Facebook. It also has the highest number of deaths as a result of trying to take selfies in dangerous locations.
There are three levels
The findings, published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction confirmed that there are three levels of selfitis.
Borderline cases are people who take selfies at least three times a day, but do not post them on social media. Next is the ‘Acute’ phase of the disorder where the pictures are posted. In the third ‘Chronic’ stage, people feel an uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self round the clock. These post them more than six times a day.
Researchers found that typical ‘selfitis’ sufferers were attention-seekers, often lacking in self-confidence, hoping to boost their social standing. They want to feel part of a group by constantly posting images of themselves.
The team developed 20 statements which could be used to determine the severity of ‘selfitis’ by rating how much an individual agreed with the sentiment. Examples include “I feel more popular when I post my selfies on social media”. The other is “When I don’t take selfies, I feel detached from my peer group.”
Other technologically related mental health disorders which have been identified in recent years 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.