The Price of Fame is Paid by Celebrities and Fans Alike: Understanding the American Idolization of Stars
NEW YORK, June 1 -- What harm can come from the intense spotlights we shine on America’s favorite actors, sports heroes or models? Both celebrities and their fans suffer greatly from our cultural fascination with fame, according to two psychoanalytic thought leaders.
A symposium, “Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Celebrity Phenomenon,” will examine these issues at the American Psychoanalytic Association’s 94th Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 11, from 12-1:30 p.m. at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel and Towers. Members of the media are invited to attend.
“Fame never provides a safe and secure plateau for the star. Psychologically, he always feels he is on the precipice of failure,” says Sue Erikson Bloland, LCSW, and author of In the Shadow of Fame: a Memoir by the Daughter of Erik H. Erikson. “For the stars, fame completely distorts their appetite for approval. Once they grow accustomed to standing ovations, they have difficulty moving from such superficial connections into more honestly self-revealing and complex interpersonal relationships.”
Co-presenters at the “Celebrity Phenomenon” symposium, Ms. Bloland and Stefan R. Zicht, Psy.D., both assert that Americans pay a price culturally for our propensity for star worship.
“Celebrity worship is a symptom of a cultural avoidance and anxiety about individuality,” says Dr. Zicht. “Instead of the ’Me’ generation, we are living in the ’What do you think of me?’ generation. Our cultural fascination with celebrities authorizes others to impose a preconceived vision of so-called fabulousness on us all.”
“When we assume that being famous is deeply gratifying, we are undervaluing what can be nurturing and meaningful in our own lives,” says Ms. Bloland. “We need to be aware that celebrity worship is full of distortion and we mustn’t believe the glamorous images are true.”
Dr. Zicht suggests that psychoanalysis is a useful tool for developing a more authentic sense of self and being, under one’s own authority. “Idolizing famous people may be an attempt to provide an easy answer to how one should live. Psychoanalysis can offer a revolutionary way for people to appreciate their authentically unique individuality, allowing for more meaningful and fulfilling living,” says Dr. Zicht.
Ms. Bloland will serve as chair and presenter and Dr. Zicht will serve as a presenter for the APsaA meeting. Ms. Bloland is a psychotherapist in private practice and a faculty member of the Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis in New York City. She has made a life-long study of the nature of fame: the psychological origins of the drive to be famous, the universal human need to idealize the famous, and the potential for negative impact of fame on genuine human intimacy.
Dr. Zicht is a member of the faculty and supervisor of psychotherapy at the William Alanson White Institute. He is the Editor of The Review of Interpersonal Psychoanalysis and an Associate Editor for the journal Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Dr. Zicht is Co-Director of Curriculum, Faculty and Supervisor, at the Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis; a Faculty member at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health; Adjunct Clinical Faculty, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, and Adjunct Clinical Supervisor, Pace University Center for Psychological Services. He is an Assistant Attending Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University. He maintains a private practice in New York City.
For more information regarding the “Celebrity Phenomenon” symposium or other scientific sessions at the American Psychoanalytic Association’s 94th Annual Meeting, please call 212-752-0450, ext. 21 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the media should direct their inquiries to Dottie Jeffries at 212- 752-0450, ext. 29 or email@example.com.
The American Psychoanalytic Association is a professional organization of psychoanalysts throughout the United States and is comprised of approximately 3,500 members. The Scientific Meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association are intended for the continuing education of the members and other registrants. Visit http://www.apsa.org for more information.
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