Celebrity Worship Syndrome
Celebrity worship syndrome (CWS) is a disorder whereby a person is obsessively addicted to a celebritys life. The individuals praised is usually a public figure, someone known and admired by many people (Maltby, McCutcheon, & Lowinger, 2011). This type of worshiping happens among young people who take celebrities as role models at first and consider themselves as fans but may later turn into worshiping them.
There are many reasons than can cause the development of CWS. First of all, one may have an obsession towards a celebrity because they honestly admire their living styles. It starts with a person liking a celebritys occupation like songs, film, books or a show. This may later grow to admiring the clothing designs, name, or even walking style of the worshipped individual (Sansone & Sansone, 2014). This kind of obsession may not be unhealthy and may not change someones life in a great way at first but may become a serious problem if not abandoned in time.
Peer influence is typical for the young generation who are either in high school or colleges and university, and is the second possible reason for CWS. Initially, it might have been not a persons own interest towards the celebrity, but he/she could have started liking the latter since everybody in his or her friend circles do so (Sheridan & James, 2015). They then adapt to stalking the worshipped and going to places the latter are expected to be, so that they can fit into the peer's group. It later becomes difficult to drop the liking towards the celebrity.
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Third, low regard for oneself and low self-esteem can lead to CWS. Those who are not satisfied with themselves always have someone they wish they were and will take much of their time and resources trying to copy these models (Aboujaoude, 2014). People with CWS may try to dress, talk or walk like their celebrities to feel they are worth.
Fourth, one may worship a celebrity because of some similarities between them. For example, same age or coming from the same area or country. It can even be due to the same name that the worshiper feels like he or she is part of the celebritys life (McCutcheon, et al., 2013). If the latter has passed through the same kind of difficulties in his or her life, people with CWS take it as an encouragement that they can reach that level as well.
Fifth, a person who has little to do in his or her life will can spend all the time to follow up the admired celebrity listening to the talks and watching the movies of the latter, following him or her on social media and undertaking other activities (Aboujaoude, 2014).
CWS is categorized into several groups. The first type is entertainment-social. This attachment implies that some people get an obsession with a celebrity because they can entertain others in a special way. The second type is intense-personal. It develops when a person thinks that he or she has strong emotional bonds with the favorite celebrity. Such worshipers feel comfortable when discussing the models when watching or listening to them (Maltby et al., 2011. The third form of celebrity worship syndrome is borderline-pathological. Individuals suffering from in this category of CWS have irrational behavior and fantasies about their celebrity. They think about the worshipped even when they do not want to do it . This type of CWS has a huge relation with poor mental health such as depression and anxiety.
Celebrity altitude scale was created by Maltby, McCutcheon, Houran, & Ashe (2006). University and college student from different institution took part in their study. The aim of the scale is to determine peoples attitude towards celebrities. Those who score low have a little obsession with fame, while great celebrity worshipers have high scores. Those with high scores also tend to display unhealthy psychosocial characteristics. For example, these people may have an excessive concern about their body shape, are likely to undergo cosmetic surgery, have poor interpersonal relationship, seek attention, have cognitive rigidity and identity diffusion.
Some of behavioral patterns and actions that show someone is worshiping a celebrity are listed.
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Stalking is following someone as a result of obsession. It may also involve activities like gathering information, attempts to call the stalked person, sending gifts, emails and instant messages (Sheridan & James, 2015). In this case, following a celeb is usually made through broadcasting media, social media, and the Internet. The worshippers are always aware of where the worshipped will be at a given time (McCutcheon, et al., 2006). The former use this information to prove to others how much they know about the celebrity and may even lie that they got the information directly from the celebrity to show how close their relationship is.
Compulsive buying is a personality disorder leading to irresistible and uncontrollable desire to buy anything that leads to extreme luxuries and time-consuming shopping activities that negatively affect a person both socially and financially (Rose & Segrist, 2012). It may be controllable at first, but later it turns into obsession and then addiction. People worshiping celebrities have a tendency of buying everything related to the latter (Maltby et al., 2011). These buying and spending patterns include clothing designs, entertaining materials and attending concerts (Aboujaoude, 2014).
Those with a high level of celebrity worship are often anxious and depressed. They also have social dysfunction and lower level of life satisfaction. These people have an overall poor mental health, with some being in need of medical attention. This depression may be due to the realization that the worshipped celebrities are out of their reach and do not even recognize the worshipping.
Addiction level is high among those with high scores in the Star altitude scale (Maltby et al., 2006). These people are likely to have an addiction towards their celebrities so that everything they do revolves around the celebrity lifestyle. They may spend all they have just to be at a concert or a place where their heroes are with the hope that they will be able to make physical contact with the latter. The worshipping feel pain when something bad happens to their models and even defend their actions. They may also name their children after their celebrities.
Dissociation is an act where a person constantly tries to make contact with the chosen celebrity (Sansone & Sansone, 2014). These attempts are mainly made through telephone calls, letters, emails and social media. This process is usually caused by fantasies and mistaken beliefs. The worshipping person expects and hopes that his or her celebrity will contact him or her back. Absorption is when someone has sexual thoughts and desires towards those they admired. The thoughts may turn into dreams and suffering people may always have the pictures of their celebrities with them. These activities are usually followed by frustration when the worshipping realize they cannot have a personal relationship with their stars.
In a research done by McCutcheon, et al. (2013), people worshiping celebrities were less likely to have a serious attachment to religion. Those who showed a high level of commitment to their religion, in their turn, did not worship celebrities. Their rate of admiration was low and did not turn to obsession. This behavior might have appeared because their minds had focused on another super being. Additionally, this fact is based on teachings of different religions prohibiting the worship of any other person or substance apart from God. Some religious people even regard celebrity worship as demonic.
One way of dealing with celebrity worship syndrome is through guidance and counseling. It is a process where an individual will have a chance to look at his or her behavior and abandon it if it is not acceptable. A professional counselor conducts the treatment. These are ways of dealing with any addiction. Another method is to occupy someone's life. Once a person has something to do in his or her life, he or she will not turn into celebrity worshiping since he or she has something more important to think about (Rose & Segrist, 2012). Psychiatric medical attention is the other way of eliminating CWS. This kind of treatment is for those with an advanced level of depression.
In conclusion, celebrity worship starts with just being a fun but may later turn into an obsession or addiction. In this case, the worshipers may try to imitate their celebrities without thinking about the consequences. For example, the youth have been known to copy the dressing style of the famous individuals in the entertainment industry. This kind of dressing may not be acceptable in the society, but they insist on it. Coping with a certain level of addiction may require guidance and counseling or medical treatment by a psychiatrist.