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Addiction To Selfies: A Mental Disorder?

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Addiction To Selfies: A Mental Disorder?

If you’ve taken up to three selfies today, consider yourself nuts. At least, in the eyes of the American Psychiatric Association and countless others, who are igniting a global movement to recognize that an addiction to selfies can be indicative of a mental disorder.

We all know that certain someone who is intent on capturing every waking moment with a duck-faced selfie. They even have that one specific expression set aside, ready to plaster it on in a whim the very second an iPhone is pulled out.

It never seems concerning until you look through a compiled, endless list of someone’s Instagram selfies – and even then, it could be more funny than worrisome. Now I’m not one to typically draw concern towards trivial matters, especially something that sounds as ridiculous as an addiction to self-portraits.

You’d never expect to learn that Vincent Van Gogh had been considered mentally unstable – oh wait, never mind. I personally never understood the fascination with snapping pictures of myself at every semi-interesting moment of my day – maybe I’m too ugly to consider it.

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It wasn’t until I stumbled onto the story of Danny Bowman, a 19-year-old British teen who exemplifies the worst case scenario of a selfie addiction – living proof that a new vice may currently be emerging. How far did he take his obsession? Snapping over 200 photos a day, he didn’t leave his house for six months, during which time he lost 30 pounds and dropped out of school.

Growing increasingly frustrated with his inability to capture the perfect selfie, he eventually tried to commit suicide. Fortunately, much like his attempts for a picture perfect image, he failed in doing so.

Recently, the American Psychiatric Association actually confirmed that taking selfies is a mental disorder, going as far as to term the condition “selfitis”. The APA has defines it 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”, and has categorized it into three levels: borderline, acute, and chronic.

How extreme is your selfitis? If you find yourself taking up to three selfies a day but not posting them on social media, consider yourself borderline.

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If you’re posting at least three images of yourself a day, that’s acute.

Lastly, if you’re experiencing an uncontrollable urge to take and post up to six photos a day, congratulations – you have chronic selfitis.

Danny fit quite comfortably into the third category, perhaps even deserving his own echelon of selfie insanity.

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t, I wanted to die. I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life,” he told the UK Mirror.

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What can we learn from Danny? Well for starters, we live in a society that is provoked into an infinite pursuit of superficial perfection that can never be attained. In a world where people are addicted to plastic surgeries and countless forms of body enhancement (from Goodlife to Sephora), foregoing things like knowledge and experience in their sole focus on living life ostensibly. We’re now at the verge of insanity, if not well over it.

The solution? Psychiatrists treated Danny and others in a similar way they’d treat any addict – minimizing exposure to the addiction and breaking down the dependence on it. What may be called for is a reality check to do away with digital narcissism – to live with social media rather than living through social media.

It seemed rather comical that Danny’s psychiatrists would take his phone away for intervals of time, first for 10 minutes, then for 30 minutes and so forth. Is that really so difficult? But when you pause to think about it, when was the last time you had gone an hour or two (or maybe even 10 minutes) without touching your phone?

I challenge you readers to leave your phone behind the next time you embark on a picture-perfect moment or to do away with posting pictures of every meal on Instagram (seriously?! That’s another issue for another article).

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Speaking on the selfie craze, Benedict Cumberbatch summarizes it well in his comments to Business Standard, “What a tragic waste of engagement. Enjoy the moment. Do something more worthwhile with your time, anything. Stare out the window and think about life”

So if you find yourself snapping away and capturing life through the lens of your camera, add a new perspective. Work to minimize your social media presence, take in the best of life’s moments without the need to seek approval or commentary from others. Live your own life – don’t live before the eyes of others.

More by this author

Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People The Power of Self-Reflection: 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself 4 Ways To Psychologically Manipulate Someone Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful Addiction To Selfies: A Mental Disorder?

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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