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Selfie Addiction Linked to Mental Health Disorders

Selfie addiction may sound trivial, but one UK teen who took 200 photos of himself for ten hours a day exemplifies how it's a very real addiction that stems from compulsive disorders.

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A picture of obsession. Photo via

By Bryan Le

03/24/14

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Danny Bowman, a 19 year old selfie addict in the UK, spent 10 hours every day taking over 200 pictures of himself. For six months, he obsessively tried to take the perfect pic. But when he couldn't, Danny tried to kill himself. 

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t I wanted to die. I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life," Danny said.

He first posted his photos on Facebook, where others' reactions to his appearance affected him deeply.

“People would comment on them, but children can be cruel," Danny said. "One told me my nose was too big for my face and another picked on my skin. I started taking more and more to try to get the approval of my friends."

“I would be so high when someone wrote something nice but gutted when they wrote something unkind.”

Thanks to his mother, Penny, Danny is now being treated for obsessive compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder. But his is not the only case of selfie addiction to arise from these mental afflictions.

“Danny’s case is particularly extreme,” said Dr David Veal, a psychiatrist treating Danny. “But this is a serious problem. It’s not a vanity issue. It’s a mental health one which has an extremely high suicide rate.”

Danny's treatment includes having his iPhone taken away for increasing intervals of time, working up from 10 minutes to 30 minutes to an hour. "It was excruciating to begin with but I knew I had to do it if I wanted to go on living," he said.

Health care professionals all over the world are worried what self image disorders combined with social media can do.

"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 specter of either narcissism or low self-esteem," wrote Pamela Rutledge in Psychology Today.

The dangers exist anywhere social media does. "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," said Panpimol Wipulakorn, a Mental Health Department official in Thailand.

Danny has been selfie-free for several months and has warned others not to take their addiction lightly.

“It sounds trivial and ­harmless but that’s the very thing that makes it so dangerous," he said. "It almost took my life, but I survived and I am determined never to get into that position again.”

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