Picture this: You’re going about your normal day when you get word that someone broke into your home, used your things, then took a nap in your bed. Sounds crazy, right? Well, for Taylor Swift, this nightmare became a reality just a few months ago when an obsessed fan snuck into her house. The scariest part? Taylor is only one person in a long list of celebrities who have dealt with this dark side of stanning, or obsessing over a particular celebrity. While stan culture has become increasingly common and can be perfectly healthy, there is a blurry line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. To better understand the distinction, we enlisted the help of Dr. Donna Rockwell — a clinical psychologist in private practice who specializes in fame and celebrity psychology.
WHY WE STAN
You’ve probably used, or at least heard the word stan before. But what exactly causes us to stan? “Our mind will focus on whatever is put before it, so if we are living in a celebrity culture, it’s very easy to get absorbed into that mentality,” Dr. Rockwell explains. “There is this tendency to glom onto an image that the media is projecting for us, and we can become obsessed with it.”
In addition to this, stan culture can be used as a mental getaway for many people. “It’s a great way to escape our actual lives; we don’t have to look at what’s going on in our own lives, and we can fixate on these other people’s lives,” Dr. Rockwell points out.
Believe it or not, becoming attached to a celebrity is incredibly common. A recent study on celebrity worship — when someone becomes overly obsessed with the lives of a celebrity — in the general public found that one third of the population exhibited borderline pathological levels of celebrity worship. This pathological level is characterized as going beyond the obsession, to the point where it becomes criminal and pathological behavior.
THE WARNING SIGNS
Dr. Rockwell makes it clear that connecting with a celebrity can certainly be a positive thing. “People have someone to look to and say, ‘These are the values that I find meaningful, and I want my life to look like that life,’ and it’s not a negative thing to want to better ourselves,” she tells J-14. But there are also clear indicators that someone is crossing into unsafe territory. “Spending way too much time reading and thinking about, watching video clips of, listening to, or living in the life of another’s needs are all warning signs,” Dr. Rockwell mentions. So if you’re finding yourself becoming overly obsessed to the point where you’re having troubling focusing on your own reality, are falling behind in school and are not eating or sleeping all because of a celebrity, then you should talk to a parent or a professional, Dr. Rockwell advises.
Being a stan can also mean going above and beyond for your favorite celebrity, which can sometimes result in a person becoming aggressive toward fandoms outside their own. But why does this happen? “There is strength in numbers,” Dr. Rockwell says. “When people feel that they’re not alone and that they are
representing a view that others also ascribe to, a person can feel more empowered to give a voice.” When this occurs, it’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with stanning, but never do it at the cost of your own integrity. Consider whether your behavior would make you worthy of being stanned by others. “Keep your focus on your own lives — you are the celebrity in your own existence,” Dr. Rockwell insists. “See that you are the actual celebrity in your life, and that celebrities are out there simply as models of potential heroes.”
An emotional fan waits on the BRIT Awards red carpetof to catch a glimpse Taylor Swift.tough Meeting fans can bea zoo for Justin. “I feel like animal,” he says. “Peopleme or won’t even say hi to recognize me as a human.” “It’s honestly the most amazing feeling knowing that there’s this groupof people that has my back,” Taylor says of her Swifties. Justin’s international fans show their love and support for him ata Norway concert.