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Celebrity Worship Syndrome

November 7, 2011

I searched this knowing that I would find some kind of mental illness attached to it. I didn’t know it would be so in depth though. The reason I’m writing this is for one reason. Merrill Osmond (who I will call MO in this article) of the Osmond Brothers is retiring. So what? You say.

Well when someone in your family has CWS and their celebrity obsessee is retiring, you will worry.

Let me give you a few wiki excerts about CWS:

“Psychologists in the U.S.A. and UK. created a celebrity worship scale to rate the problems. In 2002, United States psychologists Lynn McCutcheon, Rense Lange, and James Houran introduced the Celebrity Attitude Scale, a 34 item scale administered to 262 persons living in central Florida.[4] McCutcheon et al. suggested that celebrity worship comprised one dimension in which lower scores on the scale involved individualistic behavior such as watching, listening to, reading and learning about celebrities whilst the higher levels of worship are characterized by empathy, over-identification, and obsession with the celebrity.

However, later research among larger UK samples have suggested there are 3 different aspects to celebrity worship;[5] John Maltby (University of Leicester), and the aforementioned psychologists examined the Celebrity Attitude Scale among 1732 United Kingdom respondents (781 males, 942 females) who were aged between 14 and 62 years and found the following 3 dimensions to celebrity worship:

Entertainment-social

This dimension comprises attitudes that fans are attracted to a favorite celebrity because of their perceived ability to entertain and become a social focus such as “I love to talk with others who admire my favorite celebrity” and “I like watching and hearing about my favorite celebrity when I am with a large group of people”.

Intense-personal

Intense-personal aspect of celebrity worship reflects intensive and compulsive feelings about the celebrity, akin to the obsessional tendencies of fans often referred to in the literature; for example “I share with my favorite celebrity a special bond that cannot be described in words” and “When something bad happens to my favorite celebrity I feel like it happened to me’”.

Borderline-pathological

This dimension is typified by uncontrollable behaviors and fantasies regarding scenarios involving their celebrities, such as “I have frequent thoughts about my favorite celebrity, even when I don’t want to” and “my favorite celebrity would immediately come to my rescue if I needed any type of help”. ”

Now I would say that most of us experience the first one. We have a favorite celebrity and if something of theirs comes out to buy then we’ll buy it, this one doesn’t seem to be a large problem. The second one sounds like a lot of the fans who say “Justin Bieber is my life” and they are usually quite young. They generally grow out of it as they mature. Now the 3rd one shows some mental health problems, delusional thoughts about someone they don’t know personally.

My mother is the majority intense- personal but can be borderline-pathological.

“Evidence indicates that poor mental health is correlated with celebrity worship. Researchers have examined the relationship between celebrity worship and mental health in United Kingdom adult samples. Maltby et al. (2001) found evidence to suggest that the intense-personal celebrity worship dimension was related to higher levels of depression and anxiety. Similarly, Maltby et al., in 2004, found that the intense-personal celebrity worship dimension was not only related to higher levels of depression and anxiety, but also higher levels of stress, negative affect, and reports of illness.”

People who become obsessed with things generally have a problem. They have holes in their lives that they fill with things, routines and people. It’s normal to want to do it but sometimes it can go too far.

Celebrity Worship syndrome I would say is one of the main causes of my BPD. My mother’s obsession lead to me feeling lesser than MO and less loved than he was by her. She would pay and still does hundreds of pounds of items of his clothing or stupid items he had touched. They hang on her bedroom walls along with thousands (literally) of pictures and posters of him. She turned the marital bedroom into a shrine and my dad now has his own room. She has no money and numerous credit cards. She works to so she can see MO while my dad worked for me and mum. Everything she did and does is for him. She would leave frequently to other contries to where he was often leaving me with a very mentally unwell father. My feelings of abandonment come from my mother leaving me for MO more than once a year, without telling me beforehand so as not to upset me. Although not being told meant that she would leave unexpectedly and it made like seem very unpredictable. It often reminds of the Strange Situation I started off as the secure child, crying when she left, happy she was home but the more and more it happened the more I became Anxious-resistant insecure, I would cry when she left and when she came home, I would be resistant and not want to see her and accept her holiday present with reluctance. It was a difficult pattern and when your parent has CWS you start to hate the Celebrity more and more. She believes that MO can solves all of her problems, he can cure her sorrows and troubles. She won’t listen if you tell her that he will never fall in love with her and that he isn’t interested in making her life better because he has his own life. He may recognise her when she goes to see him but when she pours out her soul about all of her problems, he can’t do anything about it and he knows it’s not his place to. In ways he has crossed boundaries because he is such a nice person and does want to help but then she sees this as him loving her and wanting to save her from her misery. I remember when I met MO it felt very strange, he was so lovely that I wondered why I hated him in the first place, then I realised I shouldn’t have been directing my hatred towards him because it’s not his fault he’s alive. Then it started turning more towards my mother. She believes she is in love with him. But infatuation and obsession is not love. It’s not love at all.

Just thinking about it is reducing me to tears. She always loved him more and she still does. Dad has even said it too, she loves MO more than both of us. Now MO is retiring at the end of next year and I’m scared mum is going to die. She always told me if anything happened and she couldn’t see him again she would kill herself. If I died she wouldn’t kill herself because she would still have MO in her life. Surely it should be the other way around?

How am I supposed to deal with that? How as I child was I supposed to deal with that? Knowing you aren’t as good as some strange in your mothers life.

Edit: I remembered I had this picture that I took of a list I found written by my mother.

If you can’t read it, it says.

List of blessings that I am grateful for!

Merrill.

My hair.

A good pair of working eyes.

My beautiful cat.

Microwave.

Savannah (I scribbled out my real name on paint to protect anon)

I was last on her list and in a different pen to everything else, meaning I wasn’t originally added but was thought about at a later point. Sure I’m on the list I guess but to be below the microwave and her hair…

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3 comments

  1. […] I said in my last post about this, as predicted my mother is telling everyone she wants to kill […]


  2. Regarding the quote you found interesting, it feels similar to the craving for sensationalism. We become accustomed to excitement and seek more and more. Celebrity worshipers must do more and more to feel “adequately connected” to the celebrity. E.g., listening to records is enough at first, then that no longer satisfies the longing so you go to concerts, then you’re not happy unless you have a first row seat every time, and then you must get a handshake every night, and then you must follow the celebrity out of the showroom and into the bar after the show, and then you must visit his home, and finally you must get into the home. The amount of connectedness required to satisfy the celebrity worshiper grows over time.


  3. Thank you for sharing this. As a fan of the Osmonds as a teenager, I’d always took an interest in was happening with the family but reluctant to attend concerts and the like, largely because I was uncertain about my ‘fellow’ fans and how the teenage adoration was being played out by middle aged adults.

    Some things that have struck me of recent…

    The Osmonds are nice people and they are appreciative of the support of their fans over such a long period. With the passing of time, they have grown to regard fans as friends and as some regularly attend various events certain people will become familiar to the brothers, if only by sight and through passing conversations. Whilst imbude with meaning for the individuals for the Osmonds they are part of how Jimmy Osmond has defined show business, “… as being the business of show.”

    The advent of social media has meant that contact and interaction with celebrities is easier than ever: Twitter, Facebook, blogs. You will notice that Merrill’s statement included reference to closing his Facebook pages and blog, thus reducing the avenues through which he is publically accessible. Other family members engage with fans via social media and it is easy enough to identify the ‘regulars’ by reading the comments and noting who appears consistently in some of the images. As you have suggested, location and context seem to know no boundaries for the most determined.

    Finally, we cannot mitigate the powerful draw of interests and feelings from our teenage years. Though filled with the growing pains of transition into adulthood, the memories of the joy, hope and peer acceptance bring us back to a time when life was less complicated. Such positive memories and experiences are integral to our identities but are only part of a journey into healthy adult roles and responbilities.



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