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Addicted to selfies? You could have 'selfitis.'


If you find yourself posting and sharing selfies all day, then you could have "selfitis."

That is, at least, according to two psychologists -- Dr. Mark Griffiths and Dr. Janarthanan Balakrishnan -- who published a paper in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. In their study, "A Exploratory Study of 'Selfitis' and the Development of the Selfitis Behavior Scale," the two researchers suggested that selfitis, which refers to excessive selfie taking, should be a diagnosable condition.

Griffiths and Balakrishnan developed the idea for the study after a spoof news story began circulating in 2014. Headlines read, "American Psychiatric Association Classifies 'Selfitis' as a disorder." Though those stories were soon debunked, Griffiths wanted empirical evidence to find out if there was any truth to the hoax condition. That's why he helped launch a study in India to identify if selfitis could, in fact, be diagnosable. Griffiths and Balakrishnan later explained that they chose India as their case study because the country has the most Facebook users, as well as the highest number of deaths from taking selfies.

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For the study, Griffiths and Balakrishnan surveyed 400 people in India to find out more about their selfie and social media habits. From those responses, they developed what they later would call the "Selfitis Behavior Scale" -- a measurement that divides the condition's severity into three categories.

"We have now appeared to confirm its existence and developed the world's first Selfitis Behavior Scale to assess the condition."
Dr. Mark Griffiths

The researchers gathered their data after posing several questions to the study's participants. They were asked to rate their responses on a scale of one, for strongly disagree, to five, for strongly agree. Questions included:

  • Taking selfies gives me a good feeling to better enjoy my environment.
  • I am able to reduce my stress level by taking selfies.
  • I am able to express myself more in my environment through selfies.
  • By posting selfies, I expect my friends to appraise me.
  • I use photo editing tools to enhance my selfie to look better than others.

Those responses helped Griffiths and Balakrishnan confirm what they saw as three levels of selfitis: borderline, acute and chronic. Borderline selfitis refers to those who post about three selfies per day, but don't share them on social media. Acute, however, groups those who take several selfies per day but do post them on social media. Chronic -- the most severe case of selfitis -- refers to people who demonstrate the irresistible and uncontrollable urge to post photos of themselves all day. This group, according to the study, posts more than six selfies per day.

And though the condition's severity differs, certain psychological undertones were found across the spectrum. For example, the researchers found that those who take selfies often are looking for some sort of social or environmental validation, whether that comes in appraisal from friends or mood modification. As a result, they found that typical selfitis sufferers were often attention seekers that lacked self-confidence.

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