The growing trend of “SELFIES” and its associated psychological and mental effects.


By Sajjad Amin Bangash

The growing trend of “SELFIES” and its associated psychological and mental effects.

Nowadays, almost every one of us carries “Smartphone”. Gone are the days when people used to go Photoshop for taking pictures there, is almost wiped out since the embedded cameras in our Smartphones are providing us the similar and convenient service. Now, we have the liberty to take pictures anywhere without the hassle of developing and further putting them in frames. In the last few years, making self pictures or in other words’ Selfies’ has grown a tremendous popular trend. We can see now, that the people are busy taking pictures from their smartphones in offices, educational premises, parks, visiting places and picnics, marriage parties, social gatherings etc. Making ‘selfies’ and sharing them on social media websites, has become one of the ‘popular entertaining activities, we can’t deny. But very few of us, do know the hidden facts behind this addiction of ‘selfies’ is also becoming the source of several psychological and mental diseases and disorders.

The clinical psychologists and expert around the world especially in North America and Europe are turning their focuses on ‘the research of selfies and its associated effects on human brains’. Why, because the ‘increasing number of ‘selfiun’ (Selfies taking) addicted people have substantially increased at alarming rate in just few years.

But before we go into details of the topic, let’s first have an overview of the historical perspective and concept of ‘Selfies’.

Yes, ‘Selfies’ means that any individual who takes his or her pictures from the modern Smartphones or latest mobile webcams and later, post these pictures on intended social medias. The word ‘Selfie’ was nominated as the word of the year by Oxford dictionary in the year 2013. It is considered that ‘selfie’ is a modern word emerged up just recently but in fact it’s not true .If we travel in the history, then we will find out that back in second half of 16th century, the initial description about the ‘Selfie” can be traced. The concept of ‘Self portraits’ is even older from the invent of modern photography instruments.

Two friends taking Selfies on the top of a building
Two friends taking Selfies on the top of a building

According to the research of University of Columbia, USA, the first shape of ‘selfie’ is declared to the portrait which was drawn by an Italian artist ‘Parmigiannino’ in 1524. This portrait is called ‘Self portrait in Convex Mirror’ and the first recognized photograph was made by an amateur photographer, Robert Cornelius’  of Philadelphia in 1839. Cornelius had set his camera up at the back of the family store in Philadelphia. He took the image by removing the lens cap and then running into frame where he sat for a minute before covering up the lens again. On the back he wrote “The first light Picture ever taken. 1839.”

Robert Cornelius’ Self-Portrait: The First Ever “Selfie” (1839) -
Robert Cornelius’ Self-Portrait: The First Ever “Selfie” (1839) –

Then back in 1900, a 13 years old ‘Anastasia Nikolaevna’ Russian girl made a picture of her with a mirror and sent it back to her friend with a written note ” I have taken this picture by looking at mirror. It was a difficult task to do because my hands were continuously trembling”


These were the real stories of last centuries but in the recent past, as in 2002, Selfies was the hot debated topic on an Australian online forum.

This trend of taking selfies is growing at exasperated level in 2005 since, this period was proved to be the early boom of social media, instagram etc. which made the selfies, the most favorite hobby among the youth all over the world. During the last quarter of 2012, the “TIME MAGAZINE” included the word ‘selfie” among top 10 buzz words.

According to a survey conducted in 2012 in Australia, almost 2/3 of the women from 18 to 35 years of age, take selfies with a purpose to post them on social media while during a campaign by SAMSUNG corporation, it was revealed that out of total pictures taken by people from 18 to 35 ranges of ages, 30% consist of selfies.

But this culture of selfies are not only limited to the earth surface only, it has now moved up to the space as well. Yes, this is true. The first ever selfies taken in space by was an astronaut ‘Buzz ALDRIEN” in 1996 during ‘GEMINI 12 MISSION’

Buzz Adrien’s Selfie

Selfies, however is not only limited to single Selfies but also transferred into group Selfies as well. People make group photos during social gatherings, parties, marriage functions, picnics etc. and group Selfies are called ‘usie’. Now from famous sportsmen, rock stars, singers, celebrities, politicians, religious scholars, in short every walks of life people are actively became the part of Selfies culture.


US president, Mr. Obama was also reported to be taking selfie during the death ceremony of Nelson Mandela and his famous Selfie is called ‘Obama’s Selfie’ which remained under hot debate all over the world.


The associated Psychological ailments with Selfies.

Now, let’s take a look at other perspective of ‘Selfies’ which is alarmingly apprehended by psychologists around the world. They have expressed a grave concerns for ‘Selfies addicted’ individuals.

According to psychologist ‘Jim Weber’ ” Here Selfies is a threat to your self-esteem and confidence and that you’ll get attached to the ‘likes and comments’ that you receive on Selfies in your social media platforms by which your natural personality traits as ‘being realistic’ will convert into ‘artificial make up’ of your personality appearance. Simultaneously, resulting in how good you’re in showing irresponsible behavior or hurting others feelings’.

Dr. Jill Webber further states that “those girls who repetitively take Selfies and posting them on social media are in fact, contributing in the destruction of their inbound natural constructive abilities and ruin self confidence which will further correlate into destruction or spoiling their future prospects.

According to American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, ‘One of the obvious and primary reasons behind the plastic surgery among young people are ‘Selfies addiction’ so as to remain more glamorous and appealing in their Selfies.’ In a survey conducted by an organization on a pool of 2700 selected individuals who did plastic surgery and it was revealed that ‘ The passion for appearing perfect and appealing in their Selfies, indeed giving rise and expansion to the growth of Plastic surgery industry.’ It is an astonishing fact that the excessive use of social media and Selfies is becoming the resultant reasons for lacking reliance and trust on oneself own natural bodies.’

In 2011, Iowa State University released a research report that those girls who use Facebook a lot often get ‘Bulimia nervosa ( Guilt and shame are core symptoms of bulimia. Someone who is bulimic, like a person suffering from anorexia and other eating disorders, judges him- or herself harshly for any perceived flaw ) and became the victim of ‘negative self image and several other personality related negativity. They’re often inclined towards reducing their weights. Secondly, people addicted into ‘Selfies culture’ tend to compare their personalities with people of their surroundings and Facebook friends which is however, not a healthy activity.

In another survey, in 2013, ‘the people who constantly and excessively use social media, Facebook and posting Selfies receive lesser support from their physical social circles around while they remain more closed to their Facebook friends. Study tells that this habit bitterly worsens and effect their real blood relations and real life situations.

Mairead Tagg, a friend of mine in Facebook from Coatbridge, Scotland,  studied Psychology from University of Strathclyde, said ‘As a clinical psychologist, I despair of the ever-growing cult of narcissism, where external appearance  and being perceived as physically attractive by others becomes all-important, while qualities of reflection, kindness to others and  self-awareness  fail to develop.  Genuine engagement with living a healthy, productive life is also dismissed by theses self-absorbed individuals as unimportant. As these people grow older, how will they cope as the charms on which they define their worth begin to fade? True beauty does not lie within a charming face or a perfect body.  It lies within a loving, compassionate human heart.’

There’s another type of Selfie Olympics or Trick Shoot Selfie’. It is often taken in extraordinary or dangerous situations.

In 2014, this kind of trend got intensified on Twitter network. In this type of Selfies, induces the youngsters more towards displaying extraordinary stunts and aerobic tricks. As a young blood, the youth is always eager to display stunts and thrillers to surprise, shock and amuse others.

In February, 2014 during marathon race in Hong Kong, a ban was levied on Selfies during marathon but incidents were recorded which took place during Selfies taking in marathon.

The facial department of Malaysia has declared ‘Selfies’ as serious risk and dangerous activity for brain health. Deputy director of the department Mr. Panpimol Wipulakorn said that ‘Although, receiving likes on Selfies is a normal thing and few people get satisfied with fewer likes, however, Selfies addicted people in a seek of more likes and comments often get disappointed and often succumb to losing self confidence and demoralized by their appearance.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Anjali Chhabria says that ‘ In selfiun, people often reveal themselves in such a way that they appear in real life is in fact, a ‘false image’ portraying which obvious an obvious symptom of psychological ailment.

Dangerous aspects of Selfies

Off course, Selfies have similar dangerous aspects as well. The fond and passion for selfies have dangerous outcomes as well.
In July, 2014 in Philippines, a school girl while trying to impress her friends, standing on the balcony taking Selfies, fell down and lost her life. Similarly, in August, 2015, 15 years old boy got himself seriously injured while holding a pistol at his chin with one hand and taking selfies with another hand.

While, one another incident took place with a polish women who was on holidays in Spain. With a passion of Selfie, trying to stand on the edge of a bridge taking Selfie, fell over the edge and died. There are several incidents happened across the globe who suicided themselves after failing in getting the desired Selfies results. One such example is ‘Mirror News Report’ where 19 years old boy ‘Danny Bowman’, a British citizen who got addicted in taking Selfies from the age of 15. This habit has barred him from school as well. One day, he took more than 200 selfies he was annoyingly not satisfied for not coming in the mirage look in his Selfies for which he was eager. Later, he attempted a suicide, however, he was saved. Dr. David Veale who was treating and counseling this boy said that ‘ This is very complicated matter now as this becomes very dangerous for the health of mind when it reaches humans to threaten their lives. Dr. David termed it ‘ Body Dysmorphic Disorder(BOD). Several other clinical psychologists have declared to be Selfie addiction is the source of lacking self-esteem and reduction in valuing self-respect in humans for themselves.

How to avoid ‘Selfie Addiction’?
Now, the question is to how to get rid of ‘Selfies addiction?’. However, it’s also to be understood that taking Selfies safely during functions, recreational trips, parties etc. are not bad at all. It’s only when it becomes addiction when the matter enters into dangerous level where a person overly and excessively wastes his time, talent and mental health in ‘taking Selfies’. The best alternative to ‘Selfies addiction’ is studying books of interests and knowledge. In addition, to keep body fit and healthy, active sports activities are best substitutes to kill boredom and build positive within our personality development. Staying positive, getting actively engaged in physical social gatherings, gossip among friends, family members at regular pace can become the best source of getting rid of ‘Selfies addiction.’

We must understand that whatever physical looks and appearance God has bestowed upon humans are what to live with in. Staying fit and appearing good is always nice but on the top of that, your personal character, behavior, intellectual abilities and natural talent carry extreme importance. Give time to your work, friends, loved ones and beautify your skills and polish your talent. This will help us a lot in gaining and giving happiness, success and satisfaction in life.



  1. A good article you have wrote here .i have to agree that it can effect people especially the younger about there image and then try to change it ….no more selfies for me then …
    .big hugs avril xox


  2. What you write is so true Sajjad. As a clinical psychologist, I despair of the ever-growing cult of narcissism, where external appearance and being perceived as physically attractive by others becomes all-important, while qualities of reflection, kindness to others and self-awareness fail to develop. Genuine engagement with living a healthy, productive life is also dismissed by theses self-absorbed individuals as unimportant. As these people grow older, how will they cope as the charms on which they define their worth begin to fade? True beauty does not lie within a charming face or a perfect body. It lies within a loving, compassionate human heart.


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