Twitter has helped social change and fueled revolutions. Now it is helping scientists perform an informal census of mental dysfunction.
Dr. Waldo Andersnatch from the University of Zurich says:
“We have long known how hard it is to find and diagnose the many people suffering from a spectrum of mental disorders. Some of these sufferers are difficult to find and diagnose. People who have co-dependent narcissistic dysfunction and, really, anyone who ranks high on the Social Pest Syndrome Index, is highly unlikely to self-diagnose. We have simply found a way to coax them into the open.”
He says his team invented the #TEAMFOLLOWBACK hashtag after much research into “the sort of nonsense these people like.” The hashtag is now being used to find people who crave an amount of attention disproportionate to any actual accomplishment. After scientists shift through the results, they will contact the worst offenders.
“This is about helping people who don’t know they need help,” says the doctor. While he says there are no current plans to institutionalize the worst victims of these disorders, he will not rule it out in the future. “These are very sick people,” said Dr. Andersnatch. “We have to help them any way we can. Even if it means locking them up.”