Selfies Cause Narcissism, Mental Illness, Addiction and Suicide?


Is it possible that selfies, the trend of taking pictures of oneself, could cause narcissism, addiction, mental illness and even suicide? That’s what seems to be suggested by expert opinion surrounding the phenomenon, and a man diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder says he grew suicidal due to his addiction to taking selfies. Danny Bowman says he became so obsessed with trying to take the “right” selfie that he ended up shooting about 200 pictures a day while trying desperately to capture the perfect image of himself.

When Bowman failed to take what he perceived to be the perfect selfie, he attempted suicide by taking an overdose of drugs. Prior to his suicide attempt, he says, he would spend about ten hours every day taking selfies. Dr. David Veal, a physician involved in caring for Bowman, says selfies may cause mental illness, including body dysmorphic disorder, which has “an extremely high suicide rate.”

Bowman’s  parents are both mental health professionals, and they say that society has a “huge lack of understanding” about just how very dangerous electronic gadgets and social media can be to teens and adults alike. Experts say that while gadgets and social media cause addiction and other dangers, people are in extreme denial about the level of threat these types of communications pose, especially to impressionable teens.

Bowman’s parents recount how Bowman would spend many hours in his room taking selfies until his addiction culminated in not only a drastic weight loss, but also a terrifying suicide attempt. While Bowman’s case may sound unique and extreme, experts in psychology as well as medical doctors say this problem is far more widespread than is generally understood.

In an article for Psychology Today, doctor Pamela Rutledge says that taking selfies can be detrimental to a person’s mental health and that indulging in them is indicative of narcissism, low self esteem, attention seeking behavior and self-indulgence.

Most likely, the news that selfies might possibly cause a variety of troubling mental health issues is not going to be met with much acceptance by a society obsessed with the self-reflective nature of electronic gadgets. Some experts and physicians feel that society is collectively engaged in deep denial about how dangerous it is to interact with screens without setting limits on how much time is spent doing so.

Doctor Rutledge points out that while selfies raise the risk of narcissism, it may only be because there is not yet a widespread, well-established context for their use. She says that taking selfies may indeed be normal and natural, but because society has not yet collectively been able to contextualize the place selfies are supposed to hold, they have been labeled as being narcissistic and therefore can cause feelings of narcissism in those who take them.

However, it has been proven by multiple studies that interacting with other types of social media is definitively linked to narcissism, depression, low self esteem, addiction and a host of other negative effect. For example, Facebook use has been linked to depression while Twitter use has been linked to low self esteem and narcissism.  If selfies, specifically, are proven in the future to cause these negative mental health issues, it would most likely come as no surprise to experts in the fields of psychology and medicine.

Is it possible that taking selfies causes mental illness, addiction, narcissism and suicide? Many psychologists say yes, and warn parents to pay close attention to what kids are doing online to avoid any future cases like what happened to Bowman. Thankfully, due to the diligence of his parents, he is alive today, but had his parents not gotten him help for his addiction to selfies, he may not have been as lucky.

By: Rebecca Savastio


Huffington Post

The Mirror

Psychology Today

18 Responses to "Selfies Cause Narcissism, Mental Illness, Addiction and Suicide?"

  1. Helen   June 28, 2017 at 6:14 am

    I also think taking too much selfies is too bad.

  2. bob shop   September 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    From seeing some of selfies of the self absorbed on Tumblr, Face book and twitter, I would suggest suicide for them. I don’t see much else going for them.

  3. Dwayne Stanelli   November 21, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    informative read…

  4. Jean Ca-ay   September 15, 2014 at 4:41 am

    really..taking pictures too much may lead the person in a dangerous situation..i’m sure that bowman right now feel so glad for having the great parents he had..they never let him feel so hopeless, they never let him feel being neglected. In our generation today, teenager or even an adult had been expose to many gadgets specially to those gadgets that giving them so much fun of..taking selfie is one of the many things that happening right now. As what doctor Pamela Rutledge said in an article for Psychology Today, it can detrimental the person’s health and that indulging in them is indicative of narcissism, low self esteem, attention seeking behavior and self-indulgence. She’s right for stating the fact because taking selfie once may be called nothing but doing it every seconds and that person can’t stop thinking about a flaw in his appearance or his appearance seems so shameful that he don’t want to be seen by anyone. He’s may be having a type of chronic mental illness also known as body dysmorphic disorder.

  5. JOshua   September 15, 2014 at 12:57 am

    taking “selfie” everyday hour,minute,second are not good to us. because it may cause addiction and mental illness etc.

  6. Mr.Mike   September 15, 2014 at 12:56 am

    to be suggested by expert opinion surrounding you cannot seriously think that “selfies” are the root cause of feelings the addiction of social media.

  7. Jp   September 15, 2014 at 12:52 am

    People who take selfies it just for fun but selfies can causes mental illness, addiction, narcissism and suicide but it depends to people that can affect their behavior before doing this selfies.

  8. cem   September 15, 2014 at 12:51 am

    It is not bad to take photo on your own or we call now as “selfie”. The negative thing of that was, if you abuse it. .it will affect your personality and can bring you to some kind of illnesses. I as a youth we must consider other things that can lead to us in such cases. Yes ,maybe in taking selfie we can develop our self-esteem but we must think first the possible consequences we encounter thru doing selfie..

  9. Via   September 15, 2014 at 12:42 am

    For me as a teenager, I don’t think that it can cause such narcissism, mental illness, addiction and suicide, because it will depend only upon the person who’s doing it. If you take selfie seriously or many times in a day absolutely it may cause such illnesses.

  10. mark salac   September 15, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I think many of us take selfie the selfie has a two view of point the advantage and the disadvantage the advantage of selfie you have a memory of your past if it is good or bad and the disadvantage of selfie is my cause an addiction to captured photos and my cause of your death if you are not carefull to take a photo and you know your limitation and control taking photo in dander zone or even picture with the gun and thats all thank you……………………..

  11. dfdf   September 15, 2014 at 12:21 am


  12. kabza makaka   August 13, 2014 at 3:13 am


  13. laraS   June 9, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    I think narcissists are baited by “selfies” and the excessive use of egocentric “social” media sources.

  14. Michael Tyler   May 15, 2014 at 6:58 am

    If you’re a dude, take a selfie of “The Captain” at high mast. That will help your self esteem!

  15. George Scully   April 23, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    And tooth decay!

  16. JOBeth   April 9, 2014 at 7:34 am

    This is the stupidest crap I’ve ever heard. What a dumb kid . There are apps to use on ur phone if ur that damn crazy about a selfie. Taking 200 selfies a day trying to get the perfect pose? That’s obsessive !! Commuting suicide over a freaking selfie fail? Omg !!! Just insecurity about his looks. Musts been an ugly kid. Geeze! U can’t blame a camera, a phone, nor anything of that sort for being an idiot.

    • Morgan   April 24, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      So that makes him an idiot because he is insecure? Feelings are never stupid.

  17. Dr. Kwame M. Brown (@drkmbrown)   April 8, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    You cannot seriously think that “selfies” are the root cause here. At best, they are likely to be only a secondary mediator. But, nice click bait headline.


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