Celebrity Worship Syndrome: When fandom turns into obsession

Being a fan of a star is normal, but celebrity worship is not. If you are obsessed with a celebrity then it might have to do with celebrity worship syndrome.
Side effects of celebrity worship
Celebrity worship can have negative effects on mental health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 9 Jun 2023, 03:39 pm IST
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For a whole generation of people, bedroom walls were adorned by posters of our favourite singers or actors instead of wallpapers! Almost everyone has had a celebrity crush. But some cross the limits of fandom and get obsessed about wanting to know and interact with their favourite stars. Celebrity worship syndrome is considered to be an obsessive-addictive disorder, though it’s not a clinically recogniZed condition. According to National Library of Medicine, celebrity worship, which is an obsessive fascination with someone famous, has been linked with many mental health problems. Read on to find out how celebrity worship can affect your mental health.

Health Shots reached out to Dinika Anand, Clinical Psychologist,
BLK-Max Superspeciality Hospital, New Delhi, to know how celebrity worship can be harmful.

What is celebrity worship syndrome?

When a person gets addicted to and obsessed with a particular celebrity and their lives, that’s called celebrity worship syndrome. A person has a tendency to stalk, track and follow each moment of the celebrity – online and offline too.

celebrity worship syndrome and mental health
Internet has made it easier to follow celebrities’ moves. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How has Internet and social media increased celebrity worship syndrome

In today’s day of internet and social media, the investment in the lives of famous personalities is definitely more than what it was before Internet and smartphones entered our lives, says Anand. Now it has become easier to follow a celebrity’s moves because of online platforms. That’s not a good thing as the interest in the lives of celebrities can sometimes cross boundaries and turn into Celebrity Worship Syndrome.

Is celebrity worship bad for mental health?

It might seem to be innocent, but the obsessive and addictive behaviour for celebrities causes significant harm to the mental health of a person, says the expert. The foundation basically lies in an unhealthy obsession which means that a lot of mental, emotional, psychological and physical energy is going in a single space. Here’s how it can harm people:

1. Every part of a person’s actual life suffers

For people with this disorder, every part of their actual lives suffers. Be it work, family, friends or partners, everything or everyone around that person gets affected. That’s because all their attention, intention and focus shifts towards the celebrity, and not their actual lives.

2. Celebrity worship can evoke extreme reactions

The person investing in a parasocial relationship, which means that seeing their celebrity engaging in behaviours that are difficult to digest can evoke extreme reactions too. For instance, person X worships a movie star to the point of Godliness and sees that celebrity in the middle of a cheating scandal. Anand says the dissonance created by the person’s actions versus what is imagined can cause serious turbulence.

3. Celebrity worship can lead to a loss of personal identity

There can be loss of a sense of self too. People may become so consumed with the lives of celebrities that they neglect their own interests and passions, leading to feelings of emptiness and confusion.

4. Celebrity worship can have a negative impact on personal relationships

An obsession with celebrities can have a negative impact on personal relationships. People may become so preoccupied with celebrity culture that they make relationship mistakes. They neglect their relationships with family and friends, which can ultimately harm mental health and well-being. After all, they are the ones whom you need in actual life.

celebrity worship syndrome and mental health
Celebrity worship syndrome signs are easy to spot. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Signs of celebrity worship syndrome

It is easy to spot people obsessed with celebrities. After all, they are the ones who will be screaming the loudest on seeing their favourite star. Here are some signs of celebrity worship syndrome:

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• A change in behaviour. For example, you may notice their attention shifting from work, family and friends to only the celebrity
• Fragile coping mechanisms and poor emotional resilience
• Lack of boundaries and healthy emotional regulation
• The person suffers from isolation, leading to behaviour which is problematic
• Have persistent thoughts about a celebrity

In such cases, it is important to address the biochemical disturbances which cause these obsessive thoughts, belief systems and cause the lines between reality and imagination to blur. Providing support, resources and tools to build their own world up should also be done.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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