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Fear of getting your picture taken?

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 518 ✭✭✭ LazyClouds


    For about two years now my kid sister has been deathly afraid of getting her picture taken. It started off in school when bad photos of kids in class started circulating. She almost stopped going into school because she was afraid a bad pic of her would start going around. The teachers caught wind of it and it died down but the idea stuck in my sister's head. Now anytime someone takes out their phone she starts getting anxious and she'll weep if someone takes her picture or even mentions taking a photo...
    It's making a lot of people really angry because she can get very emotional about it and needless to say this impacts family gatherings quite a lot.
    She's been going to counseling for a few months but I don't think it's helping.

    Has anyone ever experienced this? Does anyone know what might help?
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Comments



  • Scopophobia, or a morbid fear of being seen, is a recognized phobia. This may be a variation emerging through the Internet or other convenient methods of photographing (e.g. smart phones, etc.). In this case it may be associated with another problem, bullying, that has been a troublesome side effect of Internet use.

    The association between scopophobia, school photos, and bullying on the Internet has been studied by Aruga, M, Suzuki, E, and Tagaya, A. (June 2012), "Factors involved in the feelings related to school avoidance among high school students in Nagano Prefecture, Japan," Japan Journal of Nursing Science, Vol 9, Issue 1, pp 38-55. It is a very real problem that needs to be addressed in our society today.




  • This will only "impact on family gatherings quite a lot" if people insist on taking her photograph when she doesn't want to be photographed. There is no reason to do this.

    We put a lot of emphasis on teaching our children to develop a sense of ownership of, and assert control over, their own bodies. We are sending very mixed messages if we then insist that they pose for photographs, assume facial expressions signalling emotions that they may not be feeling, etc, etc, when they are plainly uncomfortable or distressed about it. Not wanting to be photographed may be slightly eccentric, but it's not a problem. No-one is harmed by not being photographed, or by not having the opportunity to photograph someone who does not wish to be photographed.

    So my first thought is; don't make this a bigger drama than it needs to be. Don't press her to allow herself to be photographed; don't stand by while others press her; support her in her wish to make autonomous decisions about this. She may become less anxious about being photographed once she knows she can make her own decisions about whether and when to be photographed.




  • Agree with the above poster. Why the insistence to have her photo taken all the time with family. My fiancée is allowed to take my photo but nobody else is allowed. There’s nothing wrong about that is there? I just value my privacy




  • Peregrinus wrote: »
    This will only "impact on family gatherings quite a lot" if people insist on taking her photograph when she doesn't want to be photographed. There is no reason to do this.

    We put a lot of emphasis on teaching our children to develop a sense of ownership of, and assert control over, their own bodies. We are sending very mixed messages if we then insist that they pose for photographs, assume facial expressions signalling emotions that they may not be feeling, etc, etc, when they are plainly uncomfortable or distressed about it. Not wanting to be photographed may be slightly eccentric, but it's not a problem. No-one is harmed by not being photographed, or by not having the opportunity to photograph someone who does not wish to be photographed.

    So my first thought is; don't make this a bigger drama than it needs to be. Don't press her to allow herself to be photographed; don't stand by while others press her; support her in her wish to make autonomous decisions about this. She may become less anxious about being photographed once she knows she can make her own decisions about whether and when to be photographed.

    But it's so much more than just her not being in photos. Anytime someone takes out their phone she'll stop talking and/or get anxious and leave the room. And a few of my family members like taking candid photos of everyone just being at the occasion, e.g. eating cake, chatting, laughing, etc. We've already spoken to everyone that no photos can be posted online and assured my sister of this but she won't listen. I never post photos online of anyone (besides myself because I'm a borderline narcissist lol) but in public places I can't make any of these assurances.
    I guess there's nothing I can do except hope she gets better... :(




  • There is a smaller problem also related to the taking of smartphone and camera photos of persons who are strangers to the one pictured. A variation of identity theft has occurred, where someone you don't know takes your photo and then poses as you on social media. So there is a practical reason to avoid pictures by strangers beyond a potential phobia.


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  • Has she mentioned anything specific, a bad experience of forced photo (come on say cheese) type thing happened?. I don't want to jump to any conclusions of course however being 'paraded' can have an impact when young that resonates for years.




  • LazyClouds wrote: »
    But it's so much more than just her not being in photos. Anytime someone takes out their phone she'll stop talking and/or get anxious and leave the room. And a few of my family members like taking candid photos of everyone just being at the occasion, e.g. eating cake, chatting, laughing, etc. We've already spoken to everyone that no photos can be posted online and assured my sister of this but she won't listen. I never post photos online of anyone (besides myself because I'm a borderline narcissist lol) but in public places I can't make any of these assurances.
    I guess there's nothing I can do except hope she gets better... :(
    Well, maybe a few of your family members should ask themselves whether they might exercise some control over their liking for taking candid photographs of people who have made clear that they do not wish to be photographed? If leaving the room is the only way this child can assert her autonomy, then she will continue to leave the room. And if people who know she doesn't want to be photographed persist in trying to take photographs of her, this can only reinforce her phobia.

    Seriously, she chooses not to be in photographs. This is not a problem. Others are bothered by, and/or cannot respect, her choice not to be in photographs. This is the problem.




  • Has she mentioned anything specific, a bad experience of forced photo (come on say cheese) type thing happened?. I don't want to jump to any conclusions of course however being 'paraded' can have an impact when young that resonates for years.
    One "bad experience" could do it, especially for children. To elaborate...

    Phobic behaviour can occur after just one traumatic incident (i.e., one-trial learning), and in this case perhaps being photographed in a fear producing situation. Thereafter, future avoidance of being photographed provides negative reinforcement, which strengthens the phobia overtime. This is a behavioristic explanation, and it should be noted that there are different models to explain and predict human behavior.
    LazyClouds wrote: »
    Has anyone ever experienced this? Does anyone know what might help?

    Of course you are talking about a specific case, which may or may not be phobia behavior, whereupon only a qualified professional may examine and treat through an examination of the patient/subject, which we are not allowed to do here.

    That is not to say we cannot discuss phobia behaviour in general, as well as specific photo-avoidance behavior which may be a variation of scopophobia. I find such discussions interesting indeed, and this thread is a grand one, so I hope we continue.




  • Peregrinus wrote: »
    Well, maybe a few of your family members should ask themselves whether they might exercise some control over their liking for taking candid photographs of people who have made clear that they do not wish to be photographed? If leaving the room is the only way this child can assert her autonomy, then she will continue to leave the room. And if people who know she doesn't want to be photographed persist in trying to take photographs of her, this can only reinforce her phobia.

    Seriously, she chooses not to be in photographs. This is not a problem. Others are bothered by, and/or cannot respect, her choice not to be in photographs. This is the problem.

    Maybe I haven't stressed the point enough - my sister gets anxious / cries / runs out of the room and creates general discomfort when someone takes their phone out. I can understand cringing at bad photos and not wanting them taken in the first place but her phobia extends to paranoia which is probably the biggest problem.

    I know I won't find an easy solution here, I'm just venting my frustration.

    Thanks for all the feedback though.




  • Your kid sister sounds young which is probably why she reacts with exaggerated emotion to people who produce phones. The sentiment she is expressing however is one I can totally understand. This loathsome omnipresence of photographic devices in every single setting of daily life is not only hideous but reflective of a complete erosion of ones expectation of privacy, an adjunct to shallow narcissism, preening, posing, fakery, and conducive to bullying. If I was a young girl again I would probably also run away or cry at this plague of digital eyes. As an adult I can't do that - all I can do at best is try to associate largely with humans who do not persistently click and 'capture' the moment. There is a blooming good reason tribal people viewed soul stealing cameras with suspicion. I am on your sister's team! :)


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  • all posts are to remain factual, objective and to the point and absolutely no diagnosing of specific illnesses or specific treatments

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  • Just taking a quick look through Google Scholar and it appears that there may be a lack of rigourous empirical studies that pertain to the association of the specific photography phobia of the more general Scopophobia, the advance of picture taking devices (e.g., smartphones, Skype, public cameras, etc.), privacy rights, and changing social norms. Something along this order might make for an interesting dissertation research problem?


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