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Teenager’s obsession with the perfect selfie nearly drives him to suicide

WTF Selfies
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Recently the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) released a study that found an increase in people requesting facial reconstruction, in order to be “more self-aware of looks in social media,” thanks in part to the selfie phenomenon. Many of these people in the study are young and active on social media networks, and perceived bad selfie is causing them to make drastic changes in order to look better in self-shot portraits. You could dismiss this as a fad, but the obsession with selfies could take some down a dangerous path. The Daily Mirror reports that one British 19-year-old nearly killed himself because he couldn’t take the perfect selfie.

One of the many "unhappy" selfies that Danny Bowman took of himself.
One of the many “unhappy” selfies that Danny Bowman took of himself. Image used with permission by copyright holder

The young man, Danny Bowman, reportedly was spending 10 hours a day snapping more than 200 self-portraits with his iPhone. The obsession started when he was 15, and it got so bad that he was sneaking out of class, dropped out of school, lost 28 pounds, and overdosed in his home. His parents tried to intervene, which only made him angry. Negative Facebook comments toward his selfies and a desire to look like his idol, Leonardo Di Caprio, didn’t help his cause.

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t I wanted to die,” Bowman told the Daily Mirror. “I lost my friends, my education, my health, and almost my life.” 

While the Daily Mirror describes Bowman as Britain’s first selfie addict, Bowman also suffers from body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, a very real condition that is believed to be the cause for Bowman’s selfie addiction. To us, he looks perfectly normal, but he sees himself completely different. The problems really started when he was cast to become a model in 2011, leading him to obsess over his looks via technology.

For most of us, the selfie phenomenon is tongue-in-cheek, but for some it could become a self-destructive form of narcissism, experts warn, potentially leading to harm. Selfies alone may not cause people to commit suicide, but an unhealthy obsession with them could be a warning sign for some type of mental disorder.

(Daily Mirror via Time, DIY Photography)

Les Shu
Former Digital Trends Contributor
I am formerly a senior editor at Digital Trends. I bring with me more than a decade of tech and lifestyle journalism…
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