Love/Relationship Columnist
Selfies; a Reflection of Who We are to Ourselves and the World
May 26, 2014 - 11:50:33 AM

( - The term selfie came about in 2005, and the name was first coined by Jim Krause in a book he wrote describing the advantages of selfies. They could be taken anywhere, anytime, and they are a convenient way to share you with the global world at large. Selfies continue to be very popular in medicine when a patient lives in a rural area and has developed a condition they need help with. They can quickly take a photo of the lesion or area of concern and text it to a physician. However, although they can be useful, they can also be dangerous psychologically, and people who become obsessed with taking selfies blur boundaries, share too much information and have a tendency to become self-absorbed.

Selfies are contributing to the onslaught of body dysmorphic disorder (body hate), because the majority of selfies are posed and have been shot from more than one angle, more than one time. Women are more prone to taking selfies, and they also suffer more from the idea that there is a standard of beauty that determines their worth. Body dysmorphic disorder is being seen at younger and younger ages in all areas of mental health care.

"After sex selfies" was one of the most popular hash tags used on Twitter within the past two weeks, and this speaks volumes to the blurred boundaries we are seeing among selfie users.  The need to be seen as a celebrity reassured that they are seen and that they look good no matter where they are, including their bed, speaks volumes to the user's motivation. When you give your power to others to determine your worth, you end up feeling worthless if you don't get a comment of reassurance. This has led selfie users to thoughts of suicide when they began feeling as if no one noticed, validated or cared.

Most people I know have taken one or two selfies. They are useful if you are traveling alone and want to show your friends what you are visiting, you're with your partner and you want to be in the photo together, or with groups of friends as a way of remembering where you visited. The problem begins with the frequency and also the intention of the selfie. A good way to assess whether you are becoming obsessed with selfies is to ask yourself these three questions.

1.     Why you are taking the photo?

2.      What do you want to achieve? I would ask this especially for #"aftersexselfie."

3.     Is the selfie for fun or do you need positive comments to feel okay or good about yourself?

To determine if selfies are healthy or dangerous we look to the motivation or intention of the selfie. Studies from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology note that there are more photos available of real people than models. When people begin spending more than two hours a day taking selfies it becomes an obsession. When you become obsessed with posing and taking photos of yourself, relationships become more shallow, you may develop intimacy problems, your need for reassurance becomes problematic, and your self-esteem will become more vulnerable to others' opinion of you.  None of these are a sign of a well-adjusted person.

As a general rule, think about your own use of selfies, and use this as a guideline to help monitor yourself. When you feel good about yourself, your selfie will be less engineered, more spontaneous and less frequent. Insecure selfies have more editing, more frequency and more sexual content. -Mary Jo Rapini

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