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Selfie - Why Go Crazy About It?

Reviewed by
Dr. Jyotik T 87% (71 ratings)
Diploma in Psychological Medicine, de addiction
Psychiatrist, Ahmedabad  •  8 years experience
Selfie - Why Go Crazy About It?

A 19 year old got suicidal for selfie - the American Psychological Association people taking ‘selfie’ have a mental disorder. The Oxford dictionary's, word of the year 2013 is Selfie. 

"Sir, our child is all around selfie these days. He keeps on clicking his pictures at every nook and corner of home. He even doesn’t miss bathroom. He even doesn’t allow to move the objects in the home and keeps rearranging them for a perfect photograph. He spends around half of his time in capturing.” These were agonizing words of parents seeking help for their child. Yes it is, bitter, but true. A handy option to capture self and publish is the latest ‘in thing’. A routine sight these days is people taking their photo through mobile in different poses and places and making it viral on their favourite social network. The above sensational statements are from news agencies on internet and it has been a talk of the town that whether Selfie is a mental disorder or not? or Why people capture selfie? or Even celebrities are into it?

Oxford dictionary defines Selfie as, “ a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” This process involves making a desired expression, arranging a background and objects around, selecting a place and thinking of a pose to click. Even people avoid others to come in the frame. Some of the phones and softwares even alter the expression and skin textures and colour. To take a perfect selfie people go upto an extent of spending 10 hours a day and taking 200 photos, the case with Danny Bowman, 19, is the first person diagnosed in Britain with this type of obsession. The more one clicks, the more it creeps to get another and seek appreciation and attention from social media. And then it’s a social learning or imitation or sense of competition to post better and better selfies in albums than your mates. The more unique expression, the more it gets appreciated, the more it gets appreciated , more it develops a desire to snap more of it.

Looking into the psyche behind selfie, its pretty obvious that likes, comments, shares, etc do matter for these posts. These feedback creates pleasure in brain and it reinforces the behavior of taking out the mobile, changing your face and going for a click. This doesn’t end here. One thinks of exclusive selfie and keeps on indulging into all those behaviours which he or she has never done before. There have been reports of people posting selfie with a firearm, selfie with nude posters behind, selfie with kicking effil tower, selfie punching government signboards,etc and so on. This desire of seeking attention goes beyond the morale and conscience. At one point of time, there is blunting of this pleasure response and brain keeps it repeating without goal or purpose. But what if no one appreciates on social network? Then anxiety starts of making one more and more appropriate and perfect for appreciation.

The issue about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and Selfie is still under discussion. Though some of the posts are there for American Psychological Association naming the term ‘Selfitis’ and classifying into different categories, still its authenticity remains unclear. Logically thinking and analyzing this behavour links it to some of the symptoms of OCD. Like an obsession a repetitive, automatic, intrusive thought from own mind of clicking the photograph and not able to control this urge; followed by a compulsion repeatedly posting them on internet to overcome the anxiety of obsession. This cycle moves on and on. Beneath this thought process, lies a perfectionist tendency, guilt prone nature and self image disturbances. Putting light on perfectionism, there are people who want to be more and more proper in work, behavior, career, socializing and that reflects in this tendency of having a perfect selfie too. Another aspect is guilt proneness, where a person out of dissatisfaction feels guilty about his ownself and blames self for his or her current state in life; this dissatisfaction leads to click more and more and gain sympathy by people. Lastly, self image disturbance; like what people will think about me? How others will judge me? This belief leads to post more and analyse self more and to the maximum one can. Often, other symptoms of OCD are associated with Selfie. Some of them are repetitive and uncontrollable checking lock, washing hands, over cleanliness, counting money, seeing weird images, abusive words in mind to God or parents, old haunting memories, etc. and associated sleep disturbance, memory loss, decreased concentration, appetite disturbance, indecisiveness, low self confidence,etc.

What is a ‘selfie’ discussion? That might have created a stress in mind the next time you go for a click. Its not a mental illness with everyone. A casual take once a week is not a mental illness. It develops into a psychiatric disorder once it disturbs your routine, communication and most of the time spending in selfie. Solving this jigsaw of OCD, one needs to realize that social network is virtual thing and appreciation in the form of like or share or comment is often taken for granted or usual behavior. It’s a novelty of mind that keeps on giving feedback that it sees on net. Also, some might give false feedbacks too in both ways, one by false praise and second by fear of getting the relation breach. A sincere appreciation and feedback is the one given face to face with eye to eye contact and one from closed one who have been knowing you since long. With OCD symptoms rising, its better to consult a psychiatrist nearby and seek help in the form of psychotherapy (counseling) and if required medication. Were there selfies in 90s, no discoveries might have occurred, as people might be spending more time into it showing what they have discovered. This attention seeking nature of people now needs to be explored. Strained relationship at home and personal life gives birth to all this behavior. Focusing more on work and goals of life and at the same time setting up a life style which fits your capacity often helps in boosting self image, self esteem and overcoming perfectionism. One should realize that pleasure of satisfaction and appreciation lies within. Seeking it externally would make one a prey to ‘Selfie’.

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