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Q. I would never dare asking some questions reporters from Panico ask celebrities. What are characteristics of people like these reporters?
A. Sadistic, ambitious, narcissistic, lacking empathy, self-righteous, pathologically and destructively envious, with a fluctuating sense of self-worth (possibly an inferiority complex).
6. Do you believe actors and reporters want themselves to be as famous as celebrities they tease? Because I think this is almost happening...
A. The line is very thin. Newsmakers and newsmen and women are celebrities merely because they are public figures and regardless of their true accomplishments. A celebrity is famous for being famous. Of course, such journalists will likely to fall prey to up and coming colleagues in an endless and self-perpetuating food chain...
7. I think that fan-celebrity relationship gratifies both sides. What are advantages fans get and what are advantages celebrities get?
A. There is an implicit contract between a celebrity and his fans. The celebrity is obliged to "act part", to fulfil expectations of his admirers, not to deviate from roles that they impose and he or she accepts. In return fans shower celebrity with adulation. They idolize him or her and make him or her feel omnipotent, immortal, "larger than life", omniscient, superior, and sui generis (unique).
What are fans getting for their trouble?
Above all, ability to vicariously share celebrity's fabulous (and, usually, partly confabulated) existence. The celebrity becomes their "representative" in fantasyland, their extension and proxy, reification and embodiment of their deepest desires and most secret and guilty dreams. Many celebrities are also role models or father/mother figures. Celebrities are proof that there is more to life than drab and routine. That beautiful - nay, perfect - people do exist and that they do lead charmed lives. There's hope yet - this is celebrity's message to his fans.
The celebrity's inevitable downfall and corruption is modern-day equivalent of medieval morality play. This trajectory - from rags to riches and fame and back to rags or worse - proves that order and justice do prevail, that hubris invariably gets punished, and that celebrity is no better, neither is he superior, to his fans.
8. Why are celebrities narcissists? How is this disorder born?
No one knows if pathological narcissism is outcome of inherited traits, sad result of abusive and traumatizing upbringing, or confluence of both. Often, in same family, with same set of parents and an identical emotional environment - some siblings grow to be malignant narcissists, while others are perfectly "normal". Surely, this indicates a genetic predisposition of some people to develop narcissism.
It would seem reasonable to assume - though, at this stage, there is not a shred of proof - that narcissist is born with a propensity to develop narcissistic defenses. These are triggered by abuse or trauma during formative years in infancy or during early adolescence. By "abuse" I am referring to a spectrum of behaviors which objectify child and treat it as an extension of caregiver (parent) or as a mere instrument of gratification. Dotting and smothering are as abusive as beating and starving. And abuse can be dished out by peers as well as by parents, or by adult role models.
Not all celebrities are narcissists. Still, some of them surely are.
We all search for positive cues from people around us. These cues reinforce in us certain behaviour patterns. There is nothing special in fact that narcissist-celebrity does same. However there are two major differences between narcissistic and normal personality.
The first is quantitative. The normal person is likely to welcome a moderate amount of attention – verbal and non-verbal – in form of affirmation, approval, or admiration. Too much attention, though, is perceived as onerous and is avoided. Destructive and negative criticism is avoided altogether.
The narcissist, in contrast, is mental equivalent of an alcoholic. He is insatiable. He directs his whole behaviour, in fact his life, to obtain these pleasurable titbits of attention. He embeds them in a coherent, completely biased, picture of himself. He uses them to regulates his labile (fluctuating) sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
To elicit constant interest, narcissist projects on to others a confabulated, fictitious version of himself, known as False Self. The False Self is everything narcissist is not: omniscient, omnipotent, charming, intelligent, rich, or well-connected.
The narcissist then proceeds to harvest reactions to this projected image from family members, friends, co-workers, neighbours, business partners and from colleagues. If these – adulation, admiration, attention, fear, respect, applause, affirmation – are not forthcoming, narcissist demands them, or extorts them. Money, compliments, a favourable critique, an appearance in media, a sexual conquest are all converted into same currency in narcissist's mind, into "narcissistic supply".
So, narcissist is not really interested in publicity per se or in being famous. Truly he is concerned with REACTIONS to his fame: how people watch him, notice him, talk about him, debate his actions. It "proves" to him that he exists.
The narcissist goes around "hunting and collecting" way expressions on people's faces change when they notice him. He places himself at centre of attention, or even as a figure of controversy. He constantly and recurrently pesters those nearest and dearest to him in a bid to reassure himself that he is not losing his fame, his magic touch, attention of his social milieu.
Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He is the the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.