Did The APA Brand Selfie-Taking A Mental Disorder? Viral Story Is Mostly A Hoax

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A hot post on Facebook this week suggests that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has come out and officially declared taking a selfie to be a mental disorder. You’re reading this from SND’s “Hoaxed” section, so you know where this is going. Still, it’s an interesting case of mixed messages, so let’s break it down, shall we?

The viral post points back to an article on The Adobo Chronicles which claims that the APA declared selfie-taking a mental disorder during its annual board of directors meeting in Chicago. The condition is known as “selfitis,” and is defined as ” the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self  and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.”

Furthermore, the APA allegedly denoted three levels to the supposed disorder: borderline selfitis, acute selfitis, and chronic selfitis.

The story is untrue on virtually every level.

There’s practical evidence (like the fact that the American Psychiatric Association board meets five times a year, not annually), but the inherent hoax-ness of the post is betrayed, as is often the case, by the lack of credibility of the publication it originated from.

On its “About” page, The Adobo Chronicles declares itself to be “your source of up-to-date, unbelievable news. Everything you read on this site is based on fact, except for the lies.” That’s to say nothing of the amateur hour design of the site itself. Hardly a source of authoritative news.

Some minor publications did aggregate the Adobo post, lending it some credibility. However, most of those articles have since been taken down, probably after site editors did an important thing called Googling fact-checking and realized their mistake.

A brief search of the APA website turns up nothing for the keywords “selfie” or “selfitis.” Certainly such a bold claim would have some clinical support, especially from the very organization named in the Adobo article.

Now here’s where it gets interesting.

It seems as though this story is being shared/earning credibility due to its similarity to another recent story about selfies and their (tenuous) link to mental disorders.

In late March, the UK Mirror (which is a tabloid, by the way) published a story which alleged that “selfie addiction” is a real thing and taken very seriously by practicing psychologists. The post only names one, a Dr. David Veale, who supposedly treated a selfie-obsessed 19-year-old named Danny Bowman. Dr. Veale is quoted as saying:

“Danny’s case is particularly extreme. 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.”

Dr. Veale’s opinion on the case, while interesting, does not necessarily indicate any sort of psychological trend, and even if it did, anyone with credibility in the field of psychology would wait for peer-reviewed studies to be performed before taking a stand on the issue like the APA supposedly did.

Your selfie-obsessed friends might act like they have a mental disorder now and again, but make sure you do your homework before sharing something that only exists to confirm bias and trick you out of your click.

“Did The APA Brand Selfie-Taking A Mental Disorder? Viral Story Is Mostly A Hoax” is part of SocialNewsDaily’s “Hoaxed” series which debunks viral social media hoaxes. Hit the share buttons on the left, or check out more from the series in the “Social Communities” tab up top.

Author: Dusten Carlson

Dusten has written for web and print and currently spends his time working on his upcoming graphic novel. He is also almost 30 and still has all of his hair.


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