Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N: Narcissistic-- #AtoZChallenge

When I saw a Facebook post recently about Selfie Addiction, I thought
  • you gotta be kidding me!
  • is this a satirical publication like The Onion?
Then I shared the post and commented: "I think I have my letter "N" post" as Narcissus and his fixation with his mirror image immediately popped into my mind. 
When I decided to write about selfies and narcissistic behavior, I expected to suggest that taking selfies repeatedly is akin to Narcissus gazing at his reflection in the pool until he eventually starved to death, having failed to capture his illusive reflection. 

Admittedly, I laughed at the idea that one can actually suffer from a mental disorder associated with taking too many selfies. 

Then I decided to do some research. What I found surprised me: 

This makes me ponder: Are those students in my classroom who always have their cell phones out trying to sneak in a selfie actually suffering from a psychotic lapse for which I should refer them for counseling? I have actually had students who have hidden their cell phones in their crotches in an effort to go undetected when using them. Yes, I do catch them. 

Psychiatrists call the actual disease associated with selfie-obsession Body Dysmorphic Disorder. "Taking selfies is not an addiction" but a symptom of BDD, says Dr. David Veale. Rather than narcissism, compulsive selfie snappers suffer from an obsession with taking that perfect selfie. 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is the same mental illness associated with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. 

As though a simple selfie isn't enough, with the right app, those with BDD can sculpt the perfect selfie: CreamCam promises "flawless skin" and the "perfect selfie every time." Selfie Photo Editor--Cosmetic Editor offers users a way to "slim and trim to selfie perfection."

Some mental health professionals contend that these apps could "contribute toward a young adult developing an eating disorder." Of course developers of these apps say this isn't their intention, as though intention justifies effect. 

The media constructs--literally--ideas about body image that represent fictions young people see as realities they need to attain. Like Echo chasing Narcissus, the selfie-obsessed seek to capture the unattainable. They, like Narcissus, fall in love with an image of themselves that exists only in the mirror of a cell phone, and no matter how hard they try, they just can't grasp it. 

There really is no app for that.  


  1. I saw that too yesterday. It's quite shocking when you think about it. Facebook and Instagram are plastered with "selfies". On some accounts that I follow, at least 3/4 of the photos are of the account owner posing to show them self posed at a flattering angle. I now wonder when I see those: how many pictures did they take to get "the perfect shot"?Taking candid shots of yourself at a funny moment is one thing; but obsessing over getting the shot right is completely different. Its frighting to see this as a Mom of a daughter who in her own way is already self conscious about her appearance at only 9, when before I was just worrying about promoting positive body image in regards to eating disorders. Great post and great information. Kudos to you for teaching also...I am in awe of all those who teach our youth!

  2. Interesting and relevant post, you've got N nailed! This obsession with selfie's is just another thing to worry about for teachers and parents alike!

  3. Obsession with a perfection they will never attain. nope, no app for that.

  4. This is food for thought. Thank you for not stagnating but growing as a teacher.