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Being a Celebrity: A Phenomenology of Fame

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image of Journal of Phenomenological Psychology

The experience of being famous was investigated through interviews with 15 well-known American celebrities. The interviews detail the existential parameters of being famous in contemporary culture. Research participants were celebrities in various societal categories: government, law, business, publishing, sports, music, film, television news and entertainment. Phenomenological analysis was used to examine textural and structural relationship-to-world themes of fame and celebrity. The study found that in relation to self, being famous leads to loss of privacy, entitization, demanding expectations, gratification of ego needs, and symbolic immortality. In relation to other, or world, being famous leads to wealth, access, temptations, and concerns about family impact. Areas of psychological concern for celebrity mental health include character-splitting, mistrust, isolation, and an unwillingness to give up fame. Being-in-the-world of celebrity is a process involving four temporal phases: love/hate, addiction, acceptance, and adaptation. Findings are presented in the form of a Composite Textural Description and two Individual Structural Descriptions.


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