Could taking too many selfies mean you have a psychopathic personality disorder?

Could taking too many selfies mean you have a psychopathic personality disorder?

At one time or another we've all looked over at the group of people in the corner frantically thrusting their good side into the camera lens and quarreling over whether to use the flower crown or noir filter and thought "what are they doing with their lives?" But one thing we've probably never wondered is whether they have Psychopathic Personality Disorder.

Selfies, a phenomenon that have only really been around since 2013, are now a part of our daily lives and much like death, taxes and the downfall of Disney child stars, they're something that has become an uncomfortable certainty in life.

Train-track selfies, surgery selfies, after-sex selfies, funeral selfies, the list goes on and on and gets more and more ridiculous with time. But what does taking this many pictures of ourselves really say about us?

Numerous studies have linked selfie-taking to self-absorption, as well as low self-esteem and insecurity, over than just wanting to capture a moment and share it with friends, like many partakers will insist. These analyses' come as no surprise to anyone who's living in the 21st century and has seen someone snap over-indulgent image after over-indulgent image. But what if I told you that taking an excessive amount of selfies could indicate that you have psychopathic tendencies?

A difficult-to-forget 2015 study seemed to tell us that this was, in fact, the case - in men, at least. Ohio State University researchers asked 800 men between the ages of 18 and 40 to fill out an online questionnaire asking about their photo posting habits on social media; the survey inquired into how often they posted images of themselves and whether they edited them before posting. The group were then asked to fill out a second questionnaire on anti-social behaviour and self-objectification.

Perhaps surprisingly, or perhaps not so shockingly, the researchers found that posting more photos was correlated with both narcissism and psychopathy. Oh, and Ladies out there will also be unhappy to hear that the BBC reports that scientists found similar traits in women who take a lot of selfies. Yes, that's right. man or woman, taking too many selfies could mean that you're a psychopath.

Could this man taking a selfie have traits of Psychopathic Personality Disorder? Credit: StockSnap

For those unclear on the exact definition of the Psychopathic Personality Disorder, it involves a lack of empathy and regard for others and a tendency toward impulsive behavior. The symptoms include being born without the ability to comprehend empathy, guilt, remorse, kindness or compassion and these qualities manifesting in deeply anti-social behaviour, egotism, disinhibited activities, that sometimes goes as far as being criminal.

Despite your sudden realisation that you may indeed be the next up-and-coming Hannibal Lector, researchers involved with the study weren't too surprised with the results, stating it made complete sense when you thought about it. “That makes sense because psychopathy is characterized by impulsivity,” the study’s lead author, Jesse Fox, said in a statement. “They are going to snap the photos and put them online right away. They want to see themselves. They don’t want to spend time editing.”

But, going off this study, how many selfies exactly make you, your boyfriend, friend or relative a so-called psychopath? Unfortunately scientists haven't given us an exact number for us to avoid at all costs. Yet, given the fact that the average millennial could take up to 25,700 selfies in their lifetime, should all of us start worrying when we feel no remorse whatsoever for our last horrific breakup or when we accidentally kick our dog and find ourselves irritated by their whining?

Luckily for the majority of us out there, the research found that while the number of selfies posted were linked to pyschopathic and narcissistic traits, this doesn't necessarily mean that you're suffering from a Psychopathic Personality Disorder. You'll be happy to hear that while some of the men in the study had higher than average traits of these characteristics, they all scored within normal ranges of human behaviour.

In fact, other research on the selfie-takers out there has been somewhat kinder to them. A more recent 2017 study asked the participants to rank the statements, on an 11-point scale, according to how similar the statements were to their own belief. It seemed to suggest that the culprits can actually be split into three separate categories; communicators, self-publicists, and autobiographers.

Firstly, "communicators" were the people who "primarily take and share selfies to engage in conversation" and whose responses were primarily centered on showing and sharing information with other people. For example, the top statements communicators agreed with included "I take and share selfies to show people where I am," and "I take and share selfies to show people what I'm doing."

On the other hand, you had the "self-publicists" who, similarly to the communicators, liked to share events and places, but preferred to focus the picture on themselves in order to control their personal image. For example, self-publicists agreed with statements such as "I take and share selfies when I think I look nice," and "I take and share selfies because I have control of how I look." However, two of the statements they disagreed with were "I take and share selfies to be someone I'm not," and "I take and share selfies to show the world what ordinary people look like," seeming to suggest that they view their selfies as authentic representations of themselves, but in addition that they view themselves as standing out from the crowd.

Thirdly, and lastly, were the "autobiographers", who disagreed with statements about taking selfies to show others what they were doing, but concurred with statements such as "I take and share selfies to show the world who I am" and "I take and share selfies to learn to accept who I am", showing that they believed they took selfies to experience self-discovery.

With this analysis, we can determine that whether you're a communicator, self-publicist or autobiographer, it's safe to say you're pretty normal in the grand scheme of things. But always remember those underlying psychopathic traits you have...

So, overall, what does excessive selfie-taking say about us? Are we all about to kidnap, kill and skin strangers? Or are the only people who are going to be hurt our Facebook friends who may just drop dead from the pure horror of seeing us post a ninth selfie in six hours? There's no real way of knowing. All we can really do is practise our duck face and see what happens.

Featured illustration by Egarcigu