Liking to take selfies may be a sign of mental illness

Faezah Muda
22 Aug 2023 07:30am
Photo credit: Freepik
Photo credit: Freepik

SHAH ALAM - Selfies, referring to the act of taking self-portraits using smartphones for the purpose of sharing them on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like.

It has now become a phenomenon worldwide among various age groups, including adults, teenagers, and even children. However, be cautious if you are one of those who enjoy taking selfies, as there are studies indicating that it could be a sign of having a mental illness.

Although it has been labelled as dangerous behaviour in several countries, according to the Universiti Malaya Psychiatric Consultant Associate Professor Dr Rusdi Abd Rashid, research on this behavior in the country is limited, and it still requires scientific studies before being classified as an illness.

This is because people in the country may excessively engage in this behavior, potentially causing harm either physically or mentally to an individual.

"Only in recent years, psychiatrists around the world have classified selfies as a form of mental disorder, especially when it becomes harmful.

"So far, studies have been conducted in the United Kingdom and India on 225 young individuals to assess the severity of their selfie behavior," he said.

There are three categories:

Dr. Rusdi, who is also the University of Malaya Specialist Centre (UMSC) Director explained that based on this research, over 65% of the 225 individuals studied exhibited this behavior, categorized as borderline selfitis, acute selfitis, and chronic selfitis.

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1. Borderline selfitis refers to those who take at least three selfies a day and do not upload them on social media.

2. Acute selfitis categorizes those who take at least three selfies a day and upload them on social media.

3. Chronic selfitis pertains to those who take selfies more than six times a day and upload them on social media.

He further stated that, based on these three levels of selfitis, acute and chronic selfitis can lead individuals to engage in dangerous selfie activities.

"They are also associated with mental illnesses like depression or generalized anxiety disorder.

"According to studies, teenagers up to 20 years old are often associated with this phenomenon. However, as age increases, the inclination towards excessive selfie behavior diminishes," he said.

Associated with 'narcissistic personality'

Dr. Rusdi also mentioned that taking selfies is linked to a 'narcissistic personality' for those with psychiatric conditions such as anxiety disorder and addiction.

"We're not sure if this connection is the cause or the effect of taking selfies. However, if we observe the act of taking selfies, it's possible that the person already has an existing condition or that the impact of being busy with selfies can lead to a compilation of mental illnesses.

"For instance, those who have problems with self-image or lack self-confidence may take selfies to ensure they appear perfect in the digital world," he said.

Furthermore, taking selfies is associated with individuals who take pride in themselves and seek public approval.

Be cautious when taking selfies. There's nothing wrong with taking selfies, but do so in moderation and avoid harm or insensitivity.

So, which category do you fall under?