Rare Psychiatric Conditions Proliferate on Social Media Like Viruses for Teen Girls
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- They write that the purpose “is to seek affirmation and/or draw attention to oneself to acquire social capital in online communities while simultaneously maintaining an unconventional peri-psychiatric identity that may mask feelings of anxiety, depression, and possibly lower self-esteem.”
- “The [14-year-old girl] started to self-identify with the creators, according to her mother, and became convinced she had the same diagnoses, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, autism, mysophobia (an extreme fear of dirt and germs) and agoraphobia (a fear of leaving the house).”
- “’Every week, she would come up with another diagnosis,’ Coleman told CNN. ‘If she sees a hint of herself in someone, she thinks she has it, too.’”
- “There has been a recognition of vast online ‘neurodivergence’ ecosystem in which classical mental illness symptoms and diagnoses are viewed less as mental health concerns that require professional attention, but rather as consumer identities or character traits that make individuals sharper and more interesting than others around them,” the researchers write.
- “The increasingly algorithmic and audiovisually immersive social media environment is a scopic medium in which various ‘neurodivergent’ or sick role identities or personas can be claimed at will, at any given moment—with no antecedent biological basis or tether to empirical reality—with positive social and emotional reinforcement and resonance from the associated online community (e.g., via the use of hashtags; user-to-user sharing and amplification of content). This social and emotional resonance may amplify and reinforce identification with the persona and may even predict later behaviors in line with it.”