If you have a teenager living under your roof, there's a decent chance you're being kept abreast of all the latest celebrity news from your pop-culture-loving child. It's likely that you, too, remember the days of hanging the dreamy poster in your room or screaming your head off at a concert. Iif you are worried that your teen is developing an unhealthy interest in the celebrity world, intervention and treatment may be necessary.
Celebrity Worship Syndrome
Together with a team of researchers from universities in the United States and Britain, James Houran, a psychologist with the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, studied the unhealthy interest of celebrities in 600 people -- a psychiatric condition called "celebrity worship syndrome." This isn't a condition confined to teenagers, and these researchers believe one-third of the population has it to some extent.
When to Intervene
It is normal for your teen to be interested and even fascinated with celebrities, to a certain degree. Houran says that when a teenager begins to fantasize about celebrities and believes that a celebrity is aware of him, he falls into the most severe degree of celebrity worship syndrome, called "borderline pathological." If your teenager feels he has a close, personal connection with a celebrity, it may be a cause for concern -- especially if he is withdrawing from family or demonstrating symptoms of depression.
Celebrity worship syndrome may be a clue to something deeper brewing. John Maltby, a researcher at Britain's University of Leicester, believes that borderline pathological celebrity worship is an indication of depression, anxiety and stress. Teenagers showing an unhealthy fascination with celebrities may also have a strained relationship with their parents. Be sure to give your teen encouragement and positive feedback to help build his self-esteem, and seek professional help if you believe your teen needs counseling or medication to treat severe depression or anxiety.
If your teen hasn't yet reached the depths of full-blown celebrity obsession but is showing some preoccupation, there are steps you can take to prevent matters from going further. Make sure your teen's fascination isn't a result of boredom, and encourage him to become involved in an extracurricular activity or get a part-time job. Limit his time online -- where he has access to all the latest celebrity news -- and make plans to do activities together as a family. Be open and honest with your teenager about your concerns, and make sure that you are setting a healthy example for him by refraining from scouring the tabloids and latest celebrity news yourself.