Are Selfies a Sign of a Mental Disorder?


Selfies are more then a recent trend, they are a phenomenon. From celebrities, to friends, to kids and even pets you can find just about anyone posing in a selfie these days.

What are Selfies?

A selfie is a photo taken either solo or with other people with a camera held at arm’s length or pointed at a mirror.  That photo is then posted to social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ect.

Defining Narcissism

According to the DSM-V, “the essential feature of narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and lack of empathy that begins in early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.”  Additionally, narcissistic traits can include a sense of entitlement, may take advantage of others, can be arrogant, may be envious or lack empathy.

The Link between Selfies and Narcissism…

Research into the world of selfies is relatively new and minimal however, early results are indicating strong correlations between selfies and personality traits.  In 2015, Fox and Rooney conducted a national study from a sample of 1,000 men ages 18-40.  These men were asked how many selfies they posted on social media in the past week, how many other types of photos they had posted and how much time was spent on social media.  The results of this study indicate that posting numerous selfies was related to higher narcissism and psychopathy.  Fox and Rooney suggest that “narcissists are more likely to show off with selfies and make extra effort to look their best in these photos..and psychopathic men posted selfies but did not tend to edit them suggesting a level of careful self-presentation that you would be unlikely to find among those high in psychopathy”.

It is important to note that the study of narcissism as it correlates to selfies is in its infancy and the study conducted by Fox and Rooney was the first of its kind.  The results of this study do not indicate that men who post selfies are narcissistic or psychopathic, it simply means they scored higher on the assessments then those who do not display these traits.

So before you go to post your next selfie after your long run or your new manicure think about your own purpose in posting.  We are all guilty of wanting to share and connect with others but it may be helpful to starting taking note of when you may be looking to meet a deeper need through a selfie and is there a better way to do it?

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American Psychiatric Association, (2013).  Diagnostic and      statistical manual of mental disorders.  Washington, D.C:        American Psychiatric Publishing.

Fox,J. & Rooney, M.C. (2015).  The Dark Triad and trait self-    objectification as predictors of men’s use and self-presentation  behaviors on social networknig sites.  Personality and  Individual Differences, 76, 161-165.