Taking Selfies: Not a Psychiatric Disorder

Recently, my attention was caught by a viral post that claims American Psychiatric Association (APA) confirming taking selfies as a disorder. The articles even named the abnormality as "selfitis". This pushed me to conduct my search and I found out in the website of APA even has no search results for either "selfie" or "selfitis". This means that the circulating published articles are technically not true.

However, in this blogpost, I will try to find deeper perspective of the "selfie" trend for I myself is sometimes guilty of posting multiple pictures of myself in very similar poses in social media, either in Facebook, Instagram, Google plus or any platform. A 10-point summary will be attempted in this article to shed light on taking selfies.

1. Selfies are not really acts of capturing a personal experience, but a cry for self-recognition. It is a basic need of everyone for one's self-worth be acknowledged. People take chances for others to notice them in the form of achievements, unique actions, pleasant attributes and skills, extraordinary talents and knowledge and simple attention-seeking behaviors like taking pictures. This is a need so there is nothing wrong about it. What matters most is how others react to one's plea for self-recognition. Preferrably, the reaction must not motivate another to repeat such similar plea in the future.

2. Taking selfies are no longer exclusive to a particular culture, but some cultures are naturally inclined to take pictures of themselves or their significant others. I was once told, taking selfies is more of an Asian thing. I have noticed that as well, compared to European or African counterparts. I guess taking pictures has been a cultural pillar in the Asian framework. When families gather, Asians would love to have a picture of that moment more than other races. So, it is but expected that this cultural trait has been carried over to taking selfie pictures as well. However, I can say Asians take more selfies but it does not mean the others don't as well.

3. Selfies are considered a romantic artwork, but not associated with realism. Romanticism views the world as beautiful, while realism presents the actual experience itself in its rawness. When a person shares his or her self-portrait, it is expected that the person has the conscious desire and intention to look his or her best. This even leads to people to edit pictures or to prepare before pictures are to be taken. Moreover, people naturally take multiple versions of selfies, even with similar poses for them to have a larger pool for selecting the best outcome or picture.

4. Taking selfies maybe an initial sign of certain personality disorders. Many articles point out narcissism and obsession-compulsion as the reasons. Self-love is natural but not to the point of impairing one's appreciation of others, such that the individual believes no one is better than him or her. On the other hand, should one feel obliged to post pictures of himself or herself very often, this could be an impending sign but not an indicator of a psychiatric disorder, as long as the action does not hinder one's reality orientation, social functioning and activities of daily living.

5. Selfies are intentionally-made to be shared to elicit positive response. This is a general rule perhaps but there are simply two general responses to selfies: appreciation and ignorance. The first type ofcourse is preferred as it simply confirms what the publisher thinks the picture is. However, should people simply ignore selfie pictures, it means either that person is uploading selfie pictures very often making it usual and nothing special, or the picture itself is distasteful, or the person has insufficient number of friends in social media who could eventually like the picture.

6. Caution should be made while taking selfies for pictures do not just show yourself, but also provides valuable information that can be used against you. This is particularly true with those living in areas, where criminal prevalence is high. As an act of vigilance, it would not be smart to let others know what you have and where you are. People with evil intentions can easily spy on you and eventually initiate assaults against you thereafter.

7. Excessively putting the camera very high enough in taking selfies do not make one's self portrait better, rather it creates a funny distortion of one's image. Those learning to draw are aware of certain proportions that indicate beauty and standard. This I noticed most when most when one of my Facebook friends shared a selfie with her eyebrows, eyes and forehead look much bigger than usual; adding to a rounded facial structure. It appeared to me that my friend wanted capture her best angle, but somehow it resulted for me to feel embarrassed for her. It did not show beauty but an image that left me cross-eyed.

8. Taking pictures alone can be considered as a sign for the need of intimacy and functioning personal relationships. This is not supposed to be interpreted as a generalization, instead specific linkage to people, who publishes pictures nearly all about themselves and them having moments alone. Let us say 90% of the pictures uploaded in a week were all selfies, with nothing special with the background or moment. This is a sign for that person wanting to be with someone in their precious personal moments.

9. Taking selfies is a social act to set standards for comparison. This is hard fact, because although pictures are supposed to show only ourselves, it inevitably shows also what we have. Since the picture was decided to be published so there is something in it that the publisher perceives to be beautiful or worthy for others to see or admire. The problem lies not on the intention, rather than on how others take such unintentional imposition of a standard of beauty, wealth or personal characteristics one must have.

10. Taking selfies is not incorrect. Everyone can do it, regardless of cause, motivation and consequences thereafter. It is a matter of choice; so long as the action does not create significant deviation in mood, functioning, interests and daily activities, taking selfies is categorically normal.

Lastly; some people may take their own pictures and share thereafter in social media excessively, but it does not mean that particular person is a potential mental hospital patient. There is no mistake in taking pictures. The action, however has implications and deeper meaning that everyone must learn. This we must try to learn not just for awareness, but also for us to help people by recognizing some initial signs of the need of a simple companionship and communication.


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