Science says taking too many selfies is a real psychological disorder

Selfitis has been revealed to be a genuine psychological condition [Photo: Getty]

Photo app filled with selfies? Yeah, you may have ‘selfitis’ – a genuine psychological condition for people who can’t stop taking pictures of themselves.

The term was first coined back in 2014 in a spoof news story which suggested the American Psychiatric Association was considering classifying it as a disorder.

Though the story was a hoax it prompted scientists to investigate whether there was actually any truth in the phenomenon and it turns out there totally is.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University and Thiagarajar School of Management studied university students in India, the country that has the most users on Facebook, as well as the highest number of deaths as a result of trying to take selfies in dangerous locations.

The results, published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction confirmed the existence of ‘selfitis’ and revealed a ‘Selfitis Behaviour Scale’ which suggests there are three levels of the condition.

Addicted to taking selfies?  [Photo: Getty]

Speaking about the findings Chloe Ward, TMS Technician for Smart TMS, the UK’s leading magnetic brain therapy clinic said:

“The American Psychiatric Association (APA) suggested establishing ‘selfitis’ as a new psychological disorder in 2014, as the ‘obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy’.”

“A scale has since been devised called the ‘selfitis behaviour scale’ which is used to assess the condition and determine what causes people to become addicted to taking selfies. The scale runs from 1 to 100 and it was found people can suffer from three levels of selfitis,” she continues.

Chloe says that from looking at this scale you can identify whether you are at risk by looking at the three different levels:

  1. The ‘borderline’ level applies to people who take three selfies a day but don’t post them online.
  2. The ‘acute’ level applies to those who actually post them
  3. ‘Chronic’ is when someone takes selfies consistently and posts them online more than six times in a day so there is an uncontrollable urge to take a photo of one’s self.

She goes on to say that factors in which provoke the condition include lacking self-confidence, attention seeking and social competition.

“Researchers found that typical ‘selfitis’ sufferers were those who were hoping to boost their social standing and feel part of a group by constantly posting images of themselves,” she explains.

“It is easy to get addicted to taking selfies due to the idea of social acceptance with the social media world today, it is about how many views and likes one may get which gives people a sense of validation,” she adds.

“The more likes or views one may get the more they may feel a sense of acceptance, there is a tendency to wanting to look your best through filters, photoshop, different photo angles etc to gain this ‘approval’.”

Do you need rehab for being addicted to selfie-taking [Photo: Getty]

News that selfitis is a bonafide condition comes as it was revealed last year that the average British woman takes more than 20 selfies per week.

The study, of 2,173 UK-based women aged 18 to 35 by also revealed that women will spend an average of 35 minutes each week taking photos of themselves, with the majority of women admitting their selfies are for Instagram.

A further study revealed that British millennials are taking more than 2,000 selfies per year.

The survey of 2,000 British adults carried out by, found that Brits aged 18-30 are taking 11 snapshots per day, or 4,015 per year, of which almost half (48%) are selfies.

Commenting on the existence of ‘selfitis’ Doctify Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Antonio Metastasio says: “Among the vast world of behavioural addictions a relatively new one is the addiction to selfies.”

“Individuals with “selfies addiction” present with a compulsion to take selfies and share them on social media, even if this behaviour interferes with or has a negative effect on their life,” he continues.

Dr Metastasio says that in the most extreme form, individuals with selfitis can put their lives at risk to take the most extreme selfie.

“Recent studies have shown that selfies addiction correlated with low self esteem and narcissistic traits of personality,” he continues.

“Early signs of this addiction include spending long periods of time on social media and the internet and posting selfies in a compulsive way regardless of the effect. Sometimes other individuals can make remarks about the excess of selfie taking or about time spent online.”

So what do you do if you think you might be suffering from selfitis?

“The treatment, like most of the behavioural addictions is with psychological and talking therapies and sometimes medications can also be considered after a qualified doctor has formulated a diagnosis,” says Dr Metastasio.

* starts deleting selfies from photos *

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