A news story circulating around the internet has been claiming that researchers have tagged obsessive selfie taking as a recognised mental health issue. Called “Selfitis”, the story claims that the research paper establishes the popular behaviour as a medically recognised problem. Something that appears to have come from people misinterpreting the goal of the research.
Nowhere in the original paper do the authors Janarthanan Balakrishnan, from the School of Management in Madura, India, and Mark D. Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University actually set out to determine if selfie taking could amount to a mental disorder. Instead, the paper builds on a hoax that appeared in 2014 which claimed that Selfitis was spreading among social media users.
Balakrishnan and Griffiths discovered that while the hoax was very successful, it did contain an interesting methodology and breakdown of those said to suffer from Selfitis. The two then collaborated to apple the ideas from the hoax into a proper peer researched paper. If anything, this would probably qualify the work for an honourable mention at the Ignoble awards.
The original hoax, that appeared in the Adobo Chronicles, claimed that the American Psychiatric Association described Selfitis as “the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.” Of course, no such thing ever happened.
While the actual study would make one think that there might be something to the idea behind obsessive selfies, there is no evidence that it is linked to any actual illness. Of course, it may spur a further study into the matter to see if anything turns up.
The story is perhaps an attractive one at this time, since compulsive gaming is well on its way to becoming an officially recognised mental health problem. In this case, there has been studies into the matter and the World Health Organisation believes that there are individuals out there who need help.