In 2014, a viral story being circulated online reported that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) had coined “selfitis” as a new mental disorder for people who obsessively shoot and share selfies online. That story turned out to be a hoax, but it sparked new research. Now, three years later, selfitis is real.
Researchers Janarthanan Balakrishnan of the Thiagarajar School of Management in Madura, India, and Mark D. Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, UK, have published a new paper in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction titled “An Exploratory Study of ‘Selfitis’ and the Development of the Selfitis Behavior Scale.”
The study created a Selfitis Behavior Scale (SBS) that aimed to classify selfie-obsessed people into degrees of exhibiting selfitis.
First, the researchers came up with a set of factors that drive people to shoot selfies obsessively:
They then found 225 students from two schools in India universities and classified them as borderline, acute, and chronic — three proposed levels of selfitis in the 2014 hoax.
Of the participants, 34% were borderline, 40.5% were acute, and 25.5% were chronic. Men were found to exhibit selfitis at a higher rate than women — 57.5% compared to 42.5%, respectively. Younger people in the 16-20-year-old age group were also found to be the most susceptible.
9% of participants shot more than 8 selfies every day and 25% shared at least 3 of those selfies on social media.
“Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviors,” Balakrishnan tells the New York Post. “Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behavior and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.”