Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Can Fame be Bad for You?


Historically there have been few psychiatric studies into fame, possibly because it's very difficult to recruit celebrities to be part of experiments. In the past it was thought that the kind of personality who pursues and attains fame may be one predisposed to psychological problems, possibly narcissitic personalities exhibiting self-absorption, egocentrism and self-importance. Yet some recent research suggests that it is the effect of becoming famous that is the real psychological hazard, not the personality type. Research by Mark Schaller proposed that famous people may be more self-conscious and self-obsessed as a result of the increased public attention they face. He argues that the heightened self-consciousness and introspection may trigger mental illness.

Most people would feel self-conscious entering a room if everyone turned around to look at them, and famous people experience this all the time. Schaller argues that famous people have difficulty reducing expectations on themselves and try to live up to unrealistic ideals, possibly imposed upon them by celebrity fans and feel increased pressure to live up to perfection.

The bottom line in the research is that excessive attention may not be good for you, especially when young.

14 comments:

Sarah said...

Just as well then that I'm not famous. Sarah

David Anthony said...

And it must be twice as difficult to cope with if the spotlight of 'fame' is thrust upon people through no choice of their own ... as recent events have shown.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Interesting slant for you, Michelle.
Becming famous, yes, good evidence to support that.
But what bout those born to it?
Looking to history we have thousans of years of very good character studies of hundreds- thousands of individuls born famous- and born to power.
Louis XIV is always one charcter I have always found fascinating.There is so much materiel on him and he s more than just an ordinary king during his reign. Worth a psychologicl study perhaps?
Except I have always seen The Man in the Iron Mask as Dumas' attempt to do exactly that...

Ellee said...

Michelle, Thanks for the warning, I will have to keep a careful watch on my young son, he is due to be on East Enders any day soon as an extra, he belongs to a top drama group in Cambridge and even has an agent.

I'm lucky that he is very grounded, he hates it when I do the proud mum bit.

I think a lot of famous people wish they could live ordinary lives in some way again, to be anonymous if they are pursued by the press constantly.

Dr Andrew Brown said...

Yeah, everybody wants to be famous when they're young. I certainly did. I've twigged since then that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be. As a GP you may become half-famous in your locality. I often see people staring at me in the supermarket, obviously trying to work out where they've seen me before. It means I can't pick my nose or argue with the wife in public.

One of my offspring is currently trying quite hard to become a popular singer. Although parents traditionally want their children to succeed, I do wonder whether it would be a good thing in this case.

jumpinginpuddles said...

isnt fame relative though:P You know what when people walk into a crowded room people do take a peek famous or not, we live in a small country town everyone is famous here, lol more from rumour rather than actual fact. Fame is relative.

Big Brother said...

I'm glad I'm just an old fashioned teacher. I'd cringe at having all the attention all of the time. Mind you, often celebrities will, while screaming load and clear that they want privacy, drop hints to the paparazzi about their upcoming nuptials, divorce, drug rehabilitation etc. Who said that bad publicity is better than no publicity?

simon said...

your last line... "Excessive attention when young.."

I was researching about "self harmers" (I have a friend who was/is).. rather than over react I thought I would take a good long look at it...

I thought immediatly that it was as a result of physical abuse, but i learned that it can be as a result of exessive attention when young ie emotional abuse, over expectation to perform. My friend is a beautiful dancer and artist, and I learned that her parents had SUCH high expectations.....about her performance...she receives therapy now and makes good progress...
( from my perspective I learned simply to remain calm and not over react if she had a "moment")

Jumping puddles:- yes fame is relative...that's why ( for example) the trigger for a self harmer may not be the same "pressure" as that for another.

Do I make sense.?

Michelle, let me know if what I am saying is "drivel" I am NO expert.

BTW jumpingpuddles:- I am not a doctor at all (I note you comment in a previous post) :o)

I just enjoy politics, and a good debate, as well as learning something new.

simon said...

Oops sorry Jumping.. you asked if Michelle go's to other non medical blogs! well, the answer is yes!

Mis-read your question sorry

Chrysalis Angel said...

Good post on this Michelle. Dr. Brown has the right idea.

That's just a rain drop in the Ocean that is theirs. Just to do something you love to do, as employment. Following your passion and getting paid for it.

We don't have people with listening devices and cameras shooting pictures through a crack in the blinds.

Fame certainly isn't for the faint hearted. The ones that are shy, and there are many who really are shy, but love what they do when they perform, it is a hard thing to grasp why so many people find them that interesting. How can you wrap your brain around that? Best to you.

Ian Lidster said...

Being far from famous, but being recognizable because my photo runs with my column and for freelance pieces I write for a couple of newspapers, I find that members of the public believe they have a right to intrude on my privacy.That can be disconcerting, so I can understand the psychological toll that is taken on the highly recognizable. I guess the survivors are those who take pains to deal with it.
I once was sitting in a pub in Exeter and realized that the man sharing my table was the actor Leslie Phillips. I looked across at him. His eye caught mine and he responded thusly: "Yes, I am. There, now that's out of the way." Struck me as a healthy response. I acknowledged with a nod.

Ian

Anonymous said...

how about for famous bloggers?- you had better watch out...

Dr Michelle Tempest said...

Thanks Sarah and David.
Crushed by Ingsoc - I'm sure there are so many studies still to be done on the impacts of fame, but modern fame is different to historical fame.
Ellee - I shall watch out for your son as a rising star.
Dr Andrew Brown - GP's are always famous in their locality, and at dinner parties the conversations seem to centre round asking the GP's about ailments!
Thanks Jumping in Puddles and Ian.
Big Brother - indeed!
Chrysalis Angel - thanks
Simon - I'm glad to hear that your friend has good support from friends such as yourself.

Thanks to you all - I think the celebrity fame debate is here to stay.

Will E. said...

One of these days I'm going to be famous and participate in a psychological test ..

(But I think fame is overrated)