By Anna Davies
How to understand (and then unload!) the clutter that drags you
Have you ever found yourself gazing longingly at the spare and tidy living
rooms, kitchens, and home offices in a furniture catalog and wishing you
could live in that world? No mess, everything neatly in its place — it's a
setup that would last, oh, approximately seven seconds here on planet Earth!
Fact is, you have a big, hectic, possibly messy real life — a life that
you'll enjoy a lot more...
"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.
The Science of Hero Worship
The theory behind how and why we come to worship celebrities (and why some
of us are more affected than others) is a pop culture question almost as old as
pop culture itself.
In fact, experts say that as long as there have been those who pull ahead of
the crowd in fame or fortune, there has been a curious crowd wanting to
Fischoff, who has academically studied the cult of celebrity, says the very
need to find an idol and follow him is programmed into our DNA.