Key words: Selfie, obsession, selfitis, social media, obsessive compulsive disorder, Nigeria.
Selfie Obsession Disorder in Nigeria. Is the excessive taking of selfie a mental health condition? Is it treatable? What is really excessive when it comes to selfie taking?
Selfie is a picture someone takes of himself or herself with a digital camera or smart phone. Then the person saves it or posts the picture on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.
In obsession, there are recurrent intrusive thoughts into a person’s mind, despite several and consistent attempts to remove the thoughts. This is associated with anxiety that follows the obsessive thoughts are compulsions. Compulsions are recurrent impulsive actions in response to the intrusive thoughts. In most occasions the person resists to act compulsively, but this brings inner tensions and anxiety. Even when the compulsion is not resisted, it does not stop the obsessive thoughts. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder known as OCD, is time consuming and causes distress.
Is selfitis a mental disorder?
The American Psychiatric Association has documented that the excessive taking of selfie is a mental disorder belonging to the obsessive compulsive disorder type. And there are 3 categories of this form of obsession.
There is the borderline group. The people in this category take approximately 3 selfies in a day and will save them in their phones without posting.
Then there is the acute group. These ones take 3 or more selfies in a day and upload them to social media.
And there is the chronic group. They take 6 or more selfies in a day and post them.
The issues involved are not just the picture taking, but all the processes that go into taking the pictures. It involves carrying about the smart phone or digital device and the selfie stick. Also involves a lot of editing of the pictures before sending into the social media platforms. Even the taking of the selfies require weird and dangerous environments, as well as odd positioning of the camera or phone. Some may spend up to 30 minutes taking pictures of themselves. Some people take multiple pictures in a day before choosing the one to post.
Selfie taking also becomes excessive when it affects one’s work, school and interpersonal relationship. And in severe cases, the obsession takes over the person’s normal or usual activities. This is because they tend to capture every moment of their lives and post these.
What are the characteristics of those that have selfie obsession?
Those who engage in excessive selfies are called selfitis. And selfitis are grandiose in nature. They are self centered with self importance and narcissistic personality.
Hyperactive people also engage in excessive selfies. And also do attention seekers. They do a lot of posting of selfies.
Some have body image issues, which make them unhappy about their shape, weight, or preoccupied with certain unfounded body issues. This is also known as body dismorphia. People with body dismorphia do a lot of checking themselves in the mirror. So those who engage on excessive selfie, make use of the people on social media as their mirrors.
Many have low self esteem or self doubt. So they need social media to boost their identity.
People who are lonely take part in excessive selfies. And so do people who are depressed.
Those who have relationship issues also practice excessive selfie posting. They use it as a pacifier.
People who have the tendency to addiction engage in it. So it is also an addition.
Selfie taking is more among those in adolescents and the young adults. And even though there are selfitis within both genders, it is more with women.
Are there selfitis in Nigeria?
The selfie obsession is a global issue and not exclusively a Nigerian matter. In Nigeria, young people take selfies in shopping Malls, beside beautiful buildings or cars etc. And many Nigerians also do it to show off their dress, hair styles and makeup.
A research was conducted at two universities in Ogun state Nigeria for this purpose. And this research study was done among undergraduates between the ages of 16 and 24 years of age.
The result gave that, 86% of the participants had selfie chronic obsession. These undergraduates said that they each have over 2000 personal pictures in their phones.
Only 13% reported that had only 1000 personal pictures in their smart phones. These are those with acute obsession. And these students are not aware that their behavior is a mental health condition.
Selfie is also prominent among undergraduates in the southeastern parts of Nigeria. This can be seen from research conducted in different universities in the southeast, University of Nigeria, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, etc.
Why do people take selfies?
Many claim that it reduces their stress level and improves their mood. It also gives them good memories to look back to in the future.
Their self esteem is improved. And it makes them more popular on the social media platforms among their friends via the likes they receive.
So what do psychologists say about selfies? Psychologists believe that it is a cry for help. And that selfitis use the obsession to cry out to people for help, pointing them towards their psychological pain. These include psychological pains such as anxiety, OCD issues, addiction issues, narcissism, low self esteem, etc.
Negative effects of selfie obsessions.
Selfie obsession can lead to negative comments and cyber bullying. These can be risk factor for anxiety, depression and reduced self confidence.
It can be a source of stressor for some because it can promote body image issues and eating disorders. This has made some of these people to undergo plastic surgery. .
Some of the selfitis have issues with real life interpersonal relationships. This ends up fostering the loneliness it was made to alleviate.
Academics issues are also negatively affected. And death can occur from suicide or from taking the selfies at dangerous environments.
Treatment options for selfitis.
1. Self help:
There are things one can do to help oneself.
The first thing to do is to realize that a problem exists.
Leaving the smart phone at home while being out of the house is a good step.
Reduce or stop going online by weaning oneself off social media for some hours or days.
Get more engaged in reality things like sports, music, etc.
2. Professional help:
When self help are not yielding the desired results, it is time to seek professional treatment.
Psychotherapy is the major treatment for selfie obsession. Different types of treatment modalities are used, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, teaching of coping skills, relaxation therapy, etc.
Medications can also be prescribed by a psychiatrist when mental illness such as depression and anxiety has set in.
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