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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Warren

Celebrity Worship Syndrome & What to Do About It

It is common for teens, and even adults, to be huge fans of celebrities. In fact, it is normal

to love a certain singer, actor, or influencer! More often than not, teens have a “celebrity crush” or

idolize someone famous. However, when it becomes extreme, interfering with daily life

activities, it can be a problem. This is known as Celebrity Worship Syndrome, an

obsessive-addictive disorder where an individual becomes excessively focused on the details of a

celebrity (1). Celebrity Worship Syndrome rates have been dramatically increasing with negative

implications on mental health. Although celebrities can be positive role models, a constant focus

on an imagined connection with a celebrity can increase symptoms of depression and anxiety,

impair social skills and relationships, lead to problematic internet use, as well as negative body

image and self esteem (1). It is essential to bring awareness to this often untreated issue, so that individuals can get the help they need.

teen celebrity worship
Celebrity Worship Syndrome

What is Celebrity Worship Syndrome?

Celebrity Worship Syndrome has been described as an obsessive-addictive disorder, although it is not clinically recognized in the DSM-5 (4). It is a type of parasocial relationship, meaning it is a one-sided relationship involving one person who is investing time into a connection with someone, who oftentimes does not know they exist. Although parasocial

relationships are not always negative, Celebrity Worship Syndrome is more than a common

parasocial relationship. It includes patterns of behavior that are obsessive, compulsive, and

addictive (4). Specific signs and symptoms to look out for include: constantly stalking a favorite

celebrity, always searching for ways to meet the celebrity, inability to control yourself from

finding out more information about the celebrity, always thinking about the celebrity and unable

to focus on other things, and not being concerned with oneself or others due to only being

concerned about the celebrity (5). Researchers who have looked into this syndrome have

identified three dimensions of celebrity worship: entertainment-social, intense-personal, and

borderline pathological (2).


1. Entertainment-Social dimension: This dimension relates to the people who find it fun

to follow their favorite celebrities, and are attracted to the celebrity because of their

ability to entertain. These individuals like to converse with others about the celebrity.

This is considered the lowest level of the syndrome.

2. Intense-Personal dimension: This dimension is characterized as someone having

intense and obsessive feelings about the celebrity. Individuals in this category exhibit

personality traits associated with neuroticism, and believe things like the celebrity is their

soulmate. This is considered the intermediate level of the syndrome.

3. Borderline-Pathological dimension: This dimension is characterized as having extreme

thoughts and fantasies regarding the celebrity. Individuals display uncontrollable

behaviors, such as spending thousands of dollars to buy a small item used by the celebrity

they idolize. This is the highest level of the syndrome.


How Celebrity Worship Syndrome Affects Mental Health

Researchers have found a significant correlation between Celebrity Worship Syndrome

and poor mental health (2). One of the most significant findings was the negative effects on teen body image. When obsessing over a celebrity who is commonly airbrushed and photoshopped in the media, comparing oneself can be highly detrimental to body image. Another study found that

college students who identified with high levels of celebrity worship were more likely to get

cosmetic surgery (3). Two important lifestyle consequences of Celebrity Worship Syndrome

include:


1. Poor relationships: due to being obsessed with the specific celebrity, individuals may

avoid in person social events, ignore others, or not be open to certain opportunities in

favor of perceived celebrity connections. The celebrity becomes more of a priority than

connections with peers and loved ones.

2. Personal well-being: The obsessions and addictive behaviors can lead to harmful

outcomes. For example, going through unnecessary medical procedures to look more like

the idol, and constantly comparing yourself to the idol lowering self esteem.


Ways to Combat Celebrity Worship Syndrome

There are many ways one can combat this syndrome, ranging from outpatient therapy all

the way to residential treatment, depending on the severity. However, some ways to combat

symptoms on your own can be to try and invest time and energy into other activities. For

example, spending time with friends and loved ones, physical exercise, being in nature, art and

creative expression, or volunteering, etc (1). Additionally, it is important to limit internet and news

exposure when struggling with this syndrome. Decreasing exposure to the idol as well as the

media in general can be a helpful reminder to engage in other important aspects of life, like family, friends, schoolwork, etc. Admiring people around you is a natural, and many times positive experience. But Celebrity Worship Syndrome goes beyond just admiration. If you feel as though you, or a loved one, are beginning to display behaviors related to this syndrome, it is important to bring awareness and reach out!


Written By: Ali Green

Social Media Intern, The Grove Counseling & Consulting, LLC


References


1. Staff, N. A. (2023, January 30). Connection between celebrity worship syndrome & teen

mental health. Newport Academy.

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0John%20Maltby

2. griffiths, mark. (2013). Celebrity Worship Syndrome. Psychology Today.

3. Gillette, H. (2022, March 9). Fan or obsession? All about celebrity worship syndrome.

4. Swami, V., Taylor, R., & Carvalho, C. (2009). Acceptance of cosmetic surgery and

celebrity worship: Evidence of associations among female undergraduates. Personality

and Individual Differences, 47(8), 869–872. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2009.07.006

5. Magazine, P., & Magazine, P. (2023). Celebrity worship syndrome. Psychologs Magazine

| Mental Health Magazine | Psychology Magazine | Self-Help Magazine.

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