Scientists have discovered a new type of addiction – and that is being self-obsessed.
A study from the University of Derby has found that people come addicted to themselves to a point where their ego overrides rationality.
The academics have established the Ontological Addiction Theory which was a “missing” type of addiction.
Scientists have already established two types of addiction: chemical, which is the reliance on the likes of drugs and alcohol, and behavioural such as the addiction to gambling.
The new addiction could be accepted as the third type of addiction.
Dr William Van Gordon, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby Online Learning, who spent 10 years living as a Buddhist Monk, said that humans are predisposed to becoming addicted to one’s self, but the rise in social media has exacerbated the problem.
He said: “Previous models of addiction have largely overlooked the possibility of being ‘addicted to ourselves’, yet ontological addiction meets all of the criteria for a genuine form of addiction.
“For example, people with the condition will often experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to overcome their addiction to selfhood by being less egocentric.
Selfie generation are so SO SELF-OBSESSED that it has been identified as an addiction
“While most psychological models of self imply that we exist as independent entities, the new theory demonstrates that this is a flawed perspective because, in actual fact, we rely on innumerable causes and conditions to live.
“People who have a wrong or erroneous view of themselves and reality can start to believe they are the centrepiece in a world in which all other lifeforms, objects and concepts are less important.
“Perceiving the world like this can give rise to an addiction feedback loop that constantly reaffirms the belief in self, which can lead to functional impairments and mental illness.
“Being addicted to ourselves becomes exhausting after a certain amount of time and causes us to miss out on the truth and wisdom of reality.”
Social media has exacerbated the addiction
He added: “Problematic social media use can cause people to be drawn further into the condition and its associated negative consequences.
“For instance, when using social media, people can construct another layer of selfhood that feeds on likes, shares and followers for its existence, but that does not reflect an accurate portrayal of the individual’s true nature.
“If we interact with social media and technology mindlessly and are used by them, they tend to draw us away from the present moment. This leaves us little time and space to investigate the true nature of ourselves and how we really exist.
“It tends to further blur our understanding of what reflects a true and distorted perception of reality.”
However, Dr Van Gordon said that ontological addiction can be overcome.
He outlined three steps to get over being self-obsessed.
Dr Van Gordon: “Firstly, people need to be aware that they are addicted to themselves. They can then start to deconstruct their belief in selfhood before starting the final phase which is to reconstruct a new and more dynamic sense of self – one which understands that we are a vital component of a larger society.
“To know whether a person has ontological addiction, they would need to be honest with themselves and investigate the extent to which their ego governs their thoughts, words and actions.
“For example, when performing an act of kindness, a person could ask themselves whether deep down they are actually hoping for some kind of gain, reward or recognition.”
“Meditation helps us to become more familiar with the workings of the mind and understand how ego is influencing our thoughts and behaviours.
“I have conducted previous research which shows that just eight weeks of practicing meditation techniques intended to undermine addiction to selfhood can lead to as much as a 40 percent improvement in mental health and wellbeing, job performance and psycho-spiritual awareness.
“It’s important to note that not being attached or addicted to yourself does not mean not caring for yourself.
“By reducing egocentric beliefs and behaviours, there no longer exists a self that can be, for example, offended, let down, cheated or traumatised.”