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A Feeling that Photographs Are Watching

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Since I was about 8 years old I have experienced the feeling that people in photographs can see and hear me. At first, this feeling was enjoyable and entertaining; I loved the thought that my favourite celebrities were watching my every move and adoring me. But as I got older, this feeling became less enjoyable, and much more distressing. I removed all posters, covered up DVD cases, drew over the eyes on books. I am now 27 and still feel as though people in photos are watching me. It is only certain celebrities, never people I know personally. I was diagnosed with social anxiety in my late teens. I have never spoken about this and I feel very ashamed. I know that, logically, this has no basis in reality. Is this a fairly common symptom of social anxiety? Or perhaps indicative of another issue?

A Feeling that Photographs Are Watching

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The belief that people in photographs are watching you is not a symptom of social anxiety. It may not necessarily be a symptom of any disorder in particular. It could be categorized as paranoia. Paranoia is associated with a number of mental health disorders but it doesn’t mean that a mental health disorder is present. It could simply be an irrational line of thinking that you have entertained and thus, remains in your life.

Perhaps this line of thinking stayed with you because it was beneficial. At some point, that changed. It would be interesting to know why.

This is the ideal type of problem for counseling. However, in order for counseling to be effective, you have to want help and be open to it. Your being “very ashamed” has the potential to prevent you from being fully open to treatment. There is no reason for you to be ashamed. That you believe in certain ideas is not indicative of your character, or the type of person you are, etc. It was an idea that developed when you were a child. It benefited you. As you matured and developed, it was no longer beneficial. You came to the realization, on your own, that your beliefs were not logical. You have made great strides in removing this unwanted line of thinking from your life. Counseling can help you to remove it all.

Contact a therapist. They will know how to help you. You may not need many sessions because it seems as though you’ve done most of the work already. Good luck with your efforts and hopefully you won’t let shame and fear prevent you from resolving this issue. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

A Feeling that Photographs Are Watching

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2019). A Feeling that Photographs Are Watching. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 Jan 2019 (Originally: 27 Jan 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 25 Jan 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.