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Celebrities take them to show off their lavish lifestyles and normal people use them to document their movements on social media sites.
But experts have linked selfies with mental illness and have suggested that people regularly searching for the perfect angle from which to portray themselves could in some cases be ill.
One leading psychiatrist said the majority of patients he sees with Body Dysmorphic Disorder take a lot of selfies.
Obsessed with selfies? Experts have linked selfies with mental illness and have suggested that people regularly searching for the perfect angle could in some cases be suffering from a confidence-related mental health condition
Dr David Veale, a consultant psychiatrist in cognitive behaviour therapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and The Priory Hospital, told The Sunday Mirror: ‘Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites.’
He told MailOnline: ‘Taking Selfies is not an addiction - it’s a symptom of Body Dysmorphic Disorder that involves checking one’s appearance.’
Cognitive behavioural therapy is used to help patients moderate their behaviour.
Selfie fans with BDD can spend hours trying to take pictures that do not show any defects or flaws in their appearance, which they are very aware of but which might be unnoticeable to others.
Often, people who take selfies take several photographs until they find their best angle or pose, but picking out small details can make people very self-conscious about the tiniest of ‘flaws’.
In one extreme case, a British teenager Danny Bowman tried to commit suicide because he was unsatisfied with his appearance in the selfies he took.
He was so desperate to attract girls, he spent 10 hours a day taking more than 200 selfies trying to find the perfect image, but his habit, which began at the age of 15, caused him to drop out of school and lose almost two stone in weight.
He did not leave his house in Newcastle upon Tyne for six months, and when he failed to take a flawless shot, he tried to kill himself by taking an overdose.
Luckily, his mother, Penny, managed to save him, but he was forced to seek help after his habit had spiralled out of control.
He told the Sunday Mirror: 'I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realised I couldn’t I wanted to die.
‘I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life. The only thing I cared about was having my phone with me so I could satisfy the urge to capture a picture of myself at any time of the day.'
WHAT IS BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER?
BDD is characterised by a preoccupation with one or more perceived flaws in appearance, which are unnoticeable to others, according to the BDD Foundation.
As well as the excessive self-consciousness, individuals with BDD often feel defined by their flaw.
They often experience an image of their perceived defect associated with memories, emotions and bodily sensations – as if seeing the flaw through the eyes of an onlooker, even though what they ‘see’ may be very different to their appearance observed by others.
Sufferers tend repeatedly to check on how bad their flaw is - for example in mirrors and reflective surfaces - attempt to camouflage or alter the perceived defect and avoid public or social situations or triggers that increase distress.
People with BDD can find themselves housebound or seek out needless cosmetic surgery. They are also at an increased risk of suicide.
In an article for Psychology Today, Dr Pamela Rutledge, Director of the Media Psychology Research Centre in Boston Massachusetts, said: ‘Selfies frequently trigger perceptions of self-indulgence or attention seeking social dependence that raises the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t spectre of either narcissism or very low self-esteem.'
‘Preoccupation with selfies can be a visible indicator of a young person with a lack of confidence or sense of self that might make him or her a victim of other problems as well.’
She believes that excessive or provocative taking of selfies is a form of ‘acting out’ in young people and can be a cry for help.
One doctor in Thailand believes that as more people take selfies regularly, an increasing number of individuals could have confidence-related mental health issues in the future.
Panpimol Wipulakorn, of the Thai Mental Health Department told Collective Evolution: ‘To pay close attention to published photos, controlling who sees or who likes or comments them, hoping to reach the greatest number of likes is a symptom that “selfies” are causing problems.’
However, Dr Veale told MailOnline that taking selfies is 'just different from checking in a mirror or another reflective surface such as the back of a CD,' and selfies will not lead to an increasing number of people with BDD
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2601606/Take-lot-selfies-Then-MENTALLY-ILL-Two-thirds-patients-body-image-disorders-obsessively-photos-themselves.html#ixzz3AtFvc1bZ
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