Identifying those who are likely to break down under celebrity pressure, devising personal tactics to prevent emotional erosion and collapse and empowering the person in preserving their dignity and humanity, is the goal of our Institute.
Fame is a unique human phenomenon, unknown in the rest of the animal kingdom. Fame comes in many forms: short term, long term, local, global, positive or negative. Fame can exist quietly away from the public eye and is often conferred posthumously without any bearing on the famous. In recent times fame can also attain the unique phenomenon of “Celebrity”. Celebrities live in the public’s eye, subjected to nonstop scrutiny and gossip. Celebrities find themselves performing, often unwillingly, in a relentless media circus. The appetite of the masses for gossip robs many celebrities of their dignity and privacy. Bartering privacy for the limelight and special social status seems fair to most. Indeed many “celebrities”, work hard to preserve the privilege, especially when their fame is not a consequent to some uniqueness of talent or contribution. But for some, especially those with exceptional gift, celebrity becomes an unintended consequence to talent. For them, celebrity espouses growing solitude and emotional mistrust. Identifying those who are likely to break down under celebrity pressure, devising personal tactics to prevent emotional erosion and collapse, and empowering the person in preserving their dignity and humanity, is the goal of our Institute.
Certain fields confer respectable recognition rather than celebrity. Giants in the arts, Nobel Prize laureates etc., see their reputation and fame evolve slowly and steadily. In popular culture especially music, film, TV and sports, fame can come overnight. From total anonymity the gifted youngster is suddenly subjected to intense scrutiny and public interest. The “suddenly famous” may enjoy a honeymoon period where the money, the lifestyle and the adulation provide the perfect adolescent fantasy. However, being chaperoned around the clock and the growing isolation from peers, renders the young artist ever more dependent and dysfunctional. The pressure to maintain the fairy-tale and the knowledge that failure would bring back the anonymity, is weighing on any talented celebrity. So many people, including their own family, rely on the talent financially, and the public demands the next stunt. Fortunately, most of the suddenly famous adjust to either continued fame or the loss thereof. Humans are, by nature, quite resilient and adaptable. Yet, those who possess a unique creative genius tend to fare less well. “Creative genius” is mostly found among independent or individual thinkers. But in our contemporary popular culture, creative genius is often not unnecessary for celebrity dome. Good looks, fetching personality, and some performing talent can, in the hands of a good artistic management, be catapulted into stardom. But it is often the uniquely talented, those who are ambivalent about the celebrity glow to their gift, who are the most fragile.
Who would be able to handle the stress of celebrity? Who would buckle under the weight and become a substance abuser and emotionally unstable, career destructive? A sizable number of performers go from giddy disbelief at the onset of celebrity, to exhaustion, depression and addiction to substances; many experience nervous breakdowns. We at the FAME Institute suggest it is possible to identify those who are likely too fragile to withstand the burden of celebrity. Upon identifying the risk, a global strategy for emotional support, which includes frequent assessments and adjustments, needs to be devised and implemented. Early evaluation is especially important since many of the potential cracks are invisible to all but the experts in mental health.
Artist management agencies often discover an acute mental health case on their hands when it is too late. What is the threshold for an urgent intervention? What kind of emergency care would not end up in a PR nightmare? Being unable to mitigate between all conflicting pressures can result in catastrophic mistakes. In hindsight, managers may remember the increasing signs of an impending breakdown, but these are often ignored due to wishful thinking and denial. This scenario, all too common, can be averted by collaboration with an experienced evaluation and treatment team. The number of star artists who, despite heroic efforts, are constantly on the brink of falling apart, calls for crisis prevention and not crisis management. Engaging our team at a the start of a career rather than its implosion can prevent a lot of potential field mines down the road.
A team comprised of experienced psychiatrists, mental health professionals, sobriety coaches and companions will be on contract with the management agency to screen and identify potential or current mental health issues among the signed artists or talents. The screening would be done both by clinical interviews and by psychological testing, including neuropsychological and personality standardized testing, and a dedicated FAME questionnaire developed by Dr. Kaminski aimed at detecting the vulnerable ones.
Should the individual be identified at risk, and following a consensus meeting, the appropriate clinical plan will be devised and custom-tailored to the individual artist.
Those deemed at risk would be coached and supported in dealing with the pressures of fame. Sober coaches experienced in working with celebrities would be available to foster sobriety culture. Clinical symptoms such as depression and anxiety as well as body image and eating disorders would be identified and treated by experienced psychiatrists, CBT, DBT and EMDR therapists, nutritionists, nurse practitioners, and trauma specialists.
The treatment of each artist would be individually tailored and flexible to accommodate the lifestyle, travel commitment, and all other aspects of the person. Utmost care and attention would be given to confidentiality. All team members we employ are experienced in working one-on-one with successful artists and celebrities. In case of crisis, if clinically advisable,treatment would be provided at home with around-the-clock supervision. If admission cannot be avoided, the person would be admitted to private and exclusive collaborative facilities in the London, Los Angeles, or New York area.
Artist managers often serve as a surrogate parent to a young artist who is catapulted into a stardom, for which their humble upbringing could not have prepared them. The trusted manager has to address every need of the young star: physical, emotional, and financial. At the beginning both the manager and the artist are lulled into a comfortable dynamic of a an experienced gatekeeper and a young talent. We at the FAME institute, believe that this is the most opportune stage to engage in Forecast and Assessment. This is the time when the tsunami of celebrity has not hit yet, and the artist is willing to listen and engage. Identifying vulnerabilities, producing solid, individually tailored plans to manage the growing pressures, and staying by the side of the artist and the management to tackle on going issues, is probably the only way to prevent future crisis. It is the best strategy to guide the artist into a satisfying relationship with impending celebrity, talent and career.
Unfortunately, this is not yet the standard approach. As the fame and success of the artists grow, so does the rebellion. Deprived of a normal emotional development, the artist may never overcome teenage rebellion and can develop hostile relationships with the few people they could and should have trusted (i.e managers). Next, sycophants, moochers, self-promoters and takers descend on the artist, claiming to be trusted advisors and loyal friends. Many bring drugs and alcohol and introduce the artist to the seamy aspects of life. The management may find themselves the only barriers against the tide of bad influence and destruction. This is usually when the management wishes they had a group of mental health and drug abuse experts on their side, empowering them to steer matters into a positive direction. However, this is rarely the case.
Instead, managers often find themselves handling late night crises, scrambling to find mental health professionals, dealing with PR nightmares, and engaging in power struggles with the out of control talents. Some are already beyond help no matter how much effort is expanded at that stage.
In our experience, the presence of a well-trained group of experts can work miracles in empowering the managers. The institute would work daily with the management, addressing concerns in real time and offering support to both artists and managers, all with the utmost confidentiality. Our expert psychiatrists and therapists are always on hand to deal with psychiatric issues such as depression, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts.
Our most important contribution is in prevention: the early engagement of the vulnerable talent, before serious issues arise, would avert a great deal of unnecessary catastrophes whether professional or personal (or as is usually the case, both). The support and empowerment all parties would usher the talented artists into emotional and personal stability, enabling them and their managers to focus on their career and artistry.