Are you a Catfish?

self esteem

As many of you probably know from the MTV reality show, a catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

You may be asking yourself: Why would anyone want to be a catfish?

Well, as it turns out, there are two main reasons people catfish: either someone does it because they are scared no one would want them for who they are, or they do it specifically to punish others.This blog will focus on the first type.

The first type of catfish thinks and feels like they are not good enough on their own. A catfish can be male or female pretending to be either male or female. Usually the catfish thinks that if they used a real photograph of him or her self, no one would want to be friends with him or her.

As a society, most of us have put such an emphasis on what people physically look like that we reject or mock people who do not fit our idea of what is acceptable. How tall are they, how much do they weigh, what skin tone do they have, what do their teeth look like, what color is their hair, do they have acne? (Thanks to this, the beauty industry makes billions of dollars off of us every year.)

So, those of us who feel deep shame over who we are go find a picture of some person we think is beautiful and bang! we have our profile picture. And usually it is only the profile picture that is a lie. With a successful mask in place, we are finally free to be ourselves. We can search for other people who like the same things we like or have the same philosophies we have. We can finally let our guards down and be ourselves.

Online relationships can be so much easier than face to face relationships. Sometimes it is easier to talk to strangers about things that make us feel because, if they are a stranger we don’t have to care what they think of us. If we do not click then we simply block or unfriend them until we do find those people we click with; our tribe.

I am not sure how many of you have tried opening up to someone else online, but it is less intimidating not having to look someone in the eye when you share your deepest thoughts and emotions, especially if there is a chance you might be rejected for them.

So, the benefits of being a catfish include:

  • a safe place where the lonely can open up

  • finding validation for your true inner self

  • a place where an outcast can find friendship

  • an outlet where online acceptance can increase self esteem

But, there are many risks to catfishing. Sometimes the risks outnumber the benefits.

Some catfish experience internet addiction because these online friendships are the only support they have. They have to spend more and more time online or texting with strangers which takes away from real-life experiences they could be having. Catfishing also sets people up for continued rejection because once the other person figures it out, they often want nothing to do with the catfish. This loss fulfills the catfish’s idea that no one wants to be their friend and they end up feeling more isolated and more alone. If you are a catfish, you do not have to pretend to be someone else.

You are enough.

Here are some easy ways to meet your emotional and social needs:

  • Do what you love you’ll run into others who love the same stuff you do
  • join a club or meet up for a topic that interests you
  • volunteer one day a week at an animal shelter
  • volunteer one day a week at a food pantry
  • Doing something that benefits others increases our self esteem, relieves our depression, and helps us connect with others.

The problem with preventative mental health


Sinead O’Connor has hit the nail on the head with the difficulties of preventative mental health care and that is the fact that no one really wants advice until it is too late.

Most of us know that the teen years are awkward and most people are busy trying to fit in. Many girls in the “real world” act like they see celebrities acting like and get angry when those of us who have already come out the other side offer well-meaning words of encouragement or caution. They view us as  judgmental or out of touch. 

One of the problems we therapists struggle with is that we are able to see the oncoming emotional or mental problems that these girls are headed for and we are standing in the middle of the road waving our arms at them and they are yelling at us to get out of the road. These girls only turn toward help once they are already hurting.

It is heartbreaking that some of the decisions that these young girls make can never be undone or taken back. Some emotional hurts will never go away. Some memories can never be erased. It is usually then that they turn to us for counseling, and don’t get me wrong, we are happy to help. We are just saddened that it takes years of struggling and pain before they are willing to seek us out.  



Miley Cyrus Vs. Sinead O’Connor


So, it appears that a cyber brawl has broken out between Ms Cyrus and Ms O’Connor. It apparently started here:

where Ms O’Connor offered some unsolicited, but genuine advice to Ms Cyrus. One quote from Ms O’Connor’s letter reminded me of a recent blog I wrote regarding young women believing the only value they have is their body. Ms. O’Connor states, “You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever.. Don’t be under any illusions.. ALL of them want you because they’re making money off your youth and your beauty.. which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evils of show business. If you have an innocent heart you can’t recognise those who do not.”


Miley’s response is as follows:

“Before Amanda Bynes…. There was….” before displaying a screengrab of what appeared to be O’Connor’s Twitter account (Handle: @vampyahslayah) which showed O’Connor asking for help. “does any1 know a psychiatrist in Dublin or wicklow who could urgently see my today please?” the screengrab reads. “Im really un-well…and in danger….i desperately need to get back on meds today,” the tweets read.


As a mental health professional I was horrorfied that Ms. Cyrus appeared so insensitive to the plight of another human being. It is not funny to mock or bully another human being especially as they are seeking help. 

As a woman I am disappointed at watching the industry use and manipulate Ms Cyrus and use her to further the idea that a woman’s only value is her body. Today I read a young woman who was upset at the idea that Ms Cyrus was being “slut-shamed”. Really? We now live in a society where girls are expected to develop and mature and faster and faster rates and we don’t dare call a duck a duck because it might hurt the duck’s feelings? 

I’m sorry, but GIRLS, you are worth more than that. You are of more value than just your vagina. You do not have to bare your body of give a piece of your most precious self in order to be accepted because, truth be told, if you have to give up yourself to be accepted, it isn’t really acceptance. You are worth more than that. I’m sorry that the film and music industry would have you believe otherwise.