By Kristyn Kusek Lewis
From layoffs to security threats, we live in a crazy and scary world. You could just pray for calmer times — or learn to love the occasionally wild ride.
Life, as you may have noticed, is one great big roller-coaster ride. From job changes (planned or not) to turn-your-world-upside-down milestones like marriage and motherhood, there's no end to the twists and turns you face through the years. And these days, what with headlines constantly reminding you about the shaky economy...
"You have a confluence of forces coming together in technology and the
media to make it happen and it's worldwide and it's multiplying like lice,"
says Stuart Fischoff, PhD, spokesman for the American Psychological Association
and professor emeritus of media psychology at the California State University
at Los Angeles.
Indeed, from the international mania of the New York Post's Page
Six, to increasing circulation of celebrity-driven publications like
People, US, OK, and In Style, to the cult
star status of gossip reporters like Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart
and the New York Daily News' Rush & Malloy, there is no question
that all-things-celebrity have captured -- and are keeping -- our attention
like never before.
But what drives our endless fascination with celebrity worship? And more
importantly, can its enticing seduction ever be harmful to our health?
The answer, it seems, depends a lot on who is doing the worshipping -- and
the reasons why.
"Like most things there's a dimensional approach here; there are some
people who are fascinated by celebrities lives, but also involved in meaningful
activities and relationships in their own lives, and for these people star
watching is usually a harmless diversion," says Eric Hollander, MD,
professor of psychiatry and director of the Compulsive, Impulsive and Anxiety
Disorders program at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
For others, however, things don't go quite that way.
Hollander says there are an increasing number of us for whom the fascination
with celebrities is a substitution for real life -- with the focus on
a celebrity replacing the focus that should be on our own lives. And that, he
says, is the point at which some folks begin to get into trouble.
Depression, anxiety, and a decrease in self-esteem are just some of the
documented problems that can result when we take the focus off our own lives
and instead focus all our energy on the life of a celebrity.