Celebrity Mad: Why Otherwise Intelligent People Worship Fame, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Celebrity Mad

Why Otherwise Intelligent People Worship Fame, 1st Edition

By Brett Kahr


128 pages

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Paperback: 9781782206675
pub: 2019-04-02
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This short book provides a psychoanalytical understanding of fame and celebrity in the early twenty-first century, building upon the bedrock foundations of the Freudian corpus.

The book is divided into six chapters. Chapter One explores the psychology of the celebrity, questioning narcissistic and exhibitionist psychopathology, while Chapter Two examines the psychological state of those of who revel in the fame of others and in celebrity culture more broadly, including a discussion of "Celebrity Worship Syndrome". Chapter Three provides a very brief history of the concept of celebrity itself, arguing that, contrary to popular opinion, the culture of celebrification cannot be blamed on twenty-first-century media moguls but, rather, that such a preoccupation with famous personalities can be traced back to ancient times, and demonstrates the need to broaden our analysis to include the role of deep, unconscious psychological forces. In Chapter Four, Kahr reviews some important theoretical concepts advanced by Freud and Winnicott, which provide an important foundation for the psychoanalytical study of fame, while Chapter Five provides a more comprehensive theory of the unconscious psychological roots of the need to worship fame and to seek fame, drawing upon a multitude of sources ranging from psychoanalytical theory and developmental psychological research, to film, archaeology, and, perhaps surprisingly, the history of infanticide. The book concludes in Chapter Six by studying the psychodynamics of celebrity and fame, arguing that being recognised by one’s family and friends in the intimate context of home life may well be the very best way to become a celebrity.

Celebrity Mad outlines a psychoanalytical theory of the roots of our obsession with fame. It will be of great interest to psychoanalytic practitioners and researchers, as well as to readers interested in the psychology of fame.

Table of Contents

Introduction. "Oh, They Have All Outstripped Me in Fame": Sigmund Freud’s Struggle with Celebrity".; Chapter One. "Envied and Adored, and Most Wretchedly Unhappy": Are All Celebrities Mad?; Chapter Two. "A Mass Masturbation Orgy": The Celebrity Worship Syndrome.; Chapter Three. "I Woke Up the Next Morning and Found Myself Famous": Towards a History of Notoriety.; Chapter Four. "Mama Getting Out of the Bathtub in the Nude": The Roots of Celebrification.; Chapter Five. "Drag the Sublime into the Mud": Towards a More Comprehensive Theory of Celebrity.

    1. Celebrity Worship and the Family Romance.
    2. Celebrity Worship, Object Loss, and Object Use.
    3. Celebrity Worship and the Primal Scene: Mother’s Face, Voice, and Scent.
    4. Celebrity as a Defence Against Impotence and Castration Anxiety.
    5. Fame and Celebrity as Defences Against Loneliness and Misattunement.
    6. Fame-Worship as a Defence Against Death and Death Anxiety.
    7. Celebrities as Targets of Envy, Destructiveness, and Murderous Rage.
    8. Celebrity and the Urge to Commit Infanticide: The Bedrock of the Human Mind.

Chapter Six. "I’m a Celebrity and I Don’t Even Know It": On Becoming Famous in One’s Own Household.; End Notes.; Acknowledgements.; References.; Index.

About the Author

Professor Brett Kahr is Senior Fellow at Tavistock Relationships, in the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology, London, and, Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health. A registrant of both the British Psychoanalytic Council and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, he has written or edited nine books and serves as Series Editor or Co-Editor to the "Forensic Psychotherapy Monograph Series" and the "History of Psychoanalysis Series" for Karnac Books. He is also a Trustee of the Freud Museum London. He has worked in the mental health field for over thirty-five years.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis