We live in a celebrity obsessed culture, putting them (celebrities) on a metaphorical ‘pedestal’, where we view them as being the ‘epitome of success’, ‘all that we are not’, and ‘all that we strive to be.’
Living in such a celebrity obsessed culture means that, no longer are we attending church to declare our undying love for God- the ‘higher power’ whom we, once upon a time, all looked up to with admiration and respect- now we are obsessively scrolling on our phones, constantly refreshing the social media pages of our favourite celebrities, like an addict awaiting the ‘buzz’ that we get when they post. Celebrities then can be said to have replaced religion for many people who, instead of worshiping God, worship a celebrity.
This- becoming obsessed with a particular celebrity(s) is actually a mental illness. It goes by the name; ‘Celebrity worship syndrome’ (CWS) and can be likened to OCD. How so? Because, in the same way that an individual who is suffering from OCD feels compelled to clean, not out of enjoyment, but because they feel like they have to do it, that doing it is ultimately ‘out of their control’, so too do people with celebrity worship syndrome feel the same sort of ‘compulsion’ where, even when they don’t want to be thinking about their favourite celebrity, they just can’t help themselves. This is evidently not just the innocent behaviour of a dedicated ‘fan’, it is the behaviour of someone who has developed an unhealthy obsession with, not just the professional life of someone who is, ultimately, a stranger to them, but with the personal life of the celebrity, too.
In terms of how one can recognise symptoms of celebrity worship syndrome in themselves, therefore allowing them to distinguish between being an innocent ‘fan’ and suffering from a diagnosable mental illness, they can evaluate the impact that their preoccupation with a celebrity is having on their life. If, for example, they find that they are losing interest in the things which they previously enjoyed, and/or neglecting their duties as they would, instead, prefer to spend their days reading up on what their favourite celebrity is getting up to, this should set the alarm bells ringing that there is something ‘wrong.’ Furthermore, if they feel like their own identity is becoming tied to that of their favourite celebrity, this is also an indicator that there is something wrong.
In ‘practice’, symptoms of celebrity worship syndrome can see people with this condition trying to mould themselves into their favourite celebrity by; wearing all the clothes which they wear, listening to all the songs which they listen to, reading all the books which they read, etc etc, regardless of whether or not they actually like these things. This can, unsurprisingly, have a major impact on their life, particularly in terms of their finances as, the income of a celebrity is likely to be vastly different to the income of a regular person. People with celebrity worship syndrome might therefore find themselves getting into debt in their efforts to ‘copy’ their favourite celebrity.
As we have already established, like any illness, people do not ‘choose’ to have celebrity worship syndrome. There are, however, certain circumstances that can increase the risk of someone struggling with it.
People who already have an ‘obsessive’ personality, something which they have likely had from birth, will be more ‘at risk’ of developing celebrity worship syndrome as they might easily become obsessed with people and/or things. This is an example of a biological factor that is in one’s nature (i.e., it is driven by internal factors that have always been present), as opposed to emotional factors that arise in response to external factors such as one’s upbringing, for example (‘nurture’ rather than nature.) An example of the latter- an emotional factor- can be seen in someone who has had a dysfunctional childhood and struggles with low self-esteem. They might, through them feeling like they have ‘missed out’ on the basic relationships that should’ve been formed in their early years, turn to celebrities who they hope will ‘fill the void’ which they now feel in their adulthood. This can cause further problems to develop though as, any relationship that is formed with a celebrity will not be a ‘real’ relationship, for it will be one-way and non-reciprocal, with the celebrity likely being completely unaware of their existence even, let alone their infatuation with them.
To conclude, having highlighted; what celebrity worship syndrome is, how it differs from just being a ‘fan’, why some people are affected, and what some of the symptoms of celebrity worship syndrome are, all that’s left to say is, if you suspect that you, or anyone you know might be suffering from celebrity worship syndrome, then, as is the case with any illness, mental or physical, you should seek help as soon as possible, before its symptoms worsen and lead to the development of further mental health problems (depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia/eating disorders, etc.)
Listed below are helplines that are contactable for free in the UK. I urge anyone who thinks that they might need a bit of extra help to explore the links further. You can also message me for any help and support too, by going over to the ‘contact’ section of my blog 😊
- Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line- 0300 5000 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Saneline- 0300 304 7000
- The Mix- 0808 808 4994 or text ‘THEMIX’ to 85258
- SHOUT- Text 85258