The Perfect Selfie & The Rise of Digital Narcissism

The Perfect Selfie & The Rise of Digital Narcissism

By: Michi Marshall

October 6, 2014

“The Selfie” was elected as the word of the year in 2013, by the Oxford English Dictionary and defined as a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

The growing trend of social media and smart phones has now been correlated to a number of mental health conditions such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Narcissism, and even Depression, but most prominently in those conditions that focus on a person’s obsession with looks.

According to Dr. David Veal: “Two out of every three of all patients who come to see him with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, since the rise of smartphones and camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites.”

One well known case, is of a male teenager in London who tried to commit suicide by overdosing after failing to take “The Perfect Selfie”, despite an upwards of 200 attempts. He explains that he lost relationships, dropped out of school, lost weight, and truly became so isolated that he wanted to die after not taking “The Perfect Selfie”. His mother found him and he later was able to attend treatment that consisted of phone usage at closely monitored intervals amongst other forms of treatments. This young man is believed to be the UK’s first selfie addict, and is also is dually diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and a Technology Addiction.

Dr. Veal’s studies, as well as other research studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used to help a patient recognize the reasons for compulsive behaviors and then learn how to moderate them.

(CBT)– a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes and contents through a number of goal-oriented, explicit systematic procedures; also a form of treatment that focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. By exploring patterns of thinking that lead to self-destructive actions and the beliefs that direct these thoughts, people in general, as well as those with mental illness can modify their patterns of thinking to improve coping their skills.

This is a prime example of why I believe that social media has both advanced and corrupted our society. For those of you who follow me on social media and/or are attentive to my tweets/IG posts you are aware that I frequently go on social media hiatus. My reasoning for this is that I have found less positive social interactions and genuine relationships being built and feel that most of what people post and write is a façade. I see nothing wrong with social media, however too much of anything can become hazardous.

I wouldn’t suggest “shrinking” yourself or your significant other however pay attention…

How many times do you check social media a day? Post? Read others comments?

Pick up your phone to check it?

Panic because you can’t check it?

Has your phone or posts caused havoc in your interpersonal relationships? Business relationships? Interfered with school or other activities?

How many times do you post selfies? Attempt to take The Perfect Selfie” in any one sitting?

I challenge others to pay attention to themselves and others and how much time and energy that’s spent in the quest for social acceptance and perfection….


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