Barely a day goes by without some exposé in the press about some celebrity or other being outed as consulting a psychic. However, as time has gone by and our acceptance of celebrity culture has increased, it’s less and less of a shock. In some ways, it’s something we’ve come to expect from our icons. George Clooney reputedly used a psychic to put him in touch with his deceased pot-bellied pig, Cameron Diaz apparently uses a psychic regularly for advice on her love life and even the late Patrick Swayze turned to a clairvoyant when his marriage ran into trouble. But what is it that makes celebrities turn to psychics, before they seek any other kind of help?
Public Figures and Psychics
The phenomenon of public figures using psychics is not a new one. The Emperor Napoleon regularly used a cartomancer to predict military outcomes, Queen Victoria had a seer with her at most times and a good number of US presidents, including Bill Clinton, have openly confessed their reliance on professional psychics. However, these people are not true celebrities - they are world leaders or ambassadors for countries. True celebrities are those who are celebrated for their talent in certain industries, such as film or music. In addition, there is a new breed of celebrity emergent; those whose faces are incredibly well known, but you’re never quite sure what it is they’ve done to earn their status!
The Importance of Status
In the case of true celebrities, there are many obstacles in their way to finding inner peace. Ordinary people, when faced with a physical illness, can simply take themselves off to a doctor and psychiatrist and receive treatment. The Cult of Celebrity has different rules; in Hollywood, for example, your reputation and your status are everything. There are numerous stories about celebrities making unreasonable demands, simply because they can. In reality, this is a way of testing and maintaining their status. The more you are able to demand, the more important you are perceived to be. The more important you are perceived to be, the bigger and better the work you are likely to be offered. Establishing and upholding your status in the film industry is vital when you are a major player; it increases your box-office value and keeps the work coming in.
However, the focus on reputation can also be a hindrance. While it might be financially productive to flex your status-sealing muscles, it also means that you have to live up to that reputation. As a result, it is an unwise career move for a celebrity to be seen as being weak or needy.
Few celebrities confess to seeing therapists, for fear that the press will jump on the term and blithely announce that he or she is cracking up. Instead, celebrities like to release information that suggests they are somehow progressing; they will cheerfully admit to seeing sports therapists or dieticians, but always as a positive move, something that is somehow improving their physique or general health. There are few celebrities who will admit to seeing a counsellor for drug or narcotic abuse.
Therapists for the Stars?
With this in mind, it becomes apparent that, when it comes to mental or spiritual concerns, celebrities have nowhere to turn. Going to a psychiatrist is a bad career move, as that psychiatrist might talk to a journalist or the celebrity might be ‘papped’ coming out of their offices. The need to uphold their image as healthy, on all levels, is an all-consuming one. However, visiting a psychic has fewer negative associations with regard to mental health. The public may interpret this decision as the eccentricity associated with ‘creative types’ or that they have a burgeoning interest in spiritual matters. With this room to breathe, celebrities can talk to someone about their mental, emotional and psychic concerns without fear of ridicule or losing their platinum-plated reputation. In many ways, psychics can act as therapists for the stars, listening to their problems and giving them sensitive and non-judgemental advice.
However, there is another facet to celebrity - the one of responsibility. Many of our cultural icons are aware that they have a serious responsibility to their public. Just as impressionable youths will try and ape their heroes in the way they dress or behave, there are those who will be tempted to get involved in the spiritual systems that they believe in.
Some stars, such as Madonna or Tom Cruise, actively announce their faiths, and in doing so create or become part of celebrity crazes. However, there are those who, either because they do not hold with a particular religion or because they simply want to keep their spiritual beliefs private, are not so keen to announce where their allegiances lie.
A Need for Spiritual Succour
However, even those who apparently have everything need spiritual succour. Yet, being in the constant glare of the media, some are conscious that they do not want to align themselves to a particular faith – partly so that others can make up their own minds, rather than being influenced by their heroes and partly because publicly committing to the ‘wrong’ sort of faith could irrevocably damage their careers. Even now, celebrities such as Tom Cruise encounter daily ridicule for their choice of belief.
Unless you hold considerable power within Hollywood, it is difficult to maintain your status if it’s known that you subscribe to a particular doctrine. Psychics offer celebrities an alternative way of explaining spirituality; a subject that is very difficult to explain in the first instance. While that explanation may not be perceived as conventional, there is nothing to say that it any less or any more valid than any other.
In spite of this, there are celebrities who openly use psychics for career, love and money advice without any regard for the consequences to their careers. Celebrities such as Russell Brand cheerfully state what they believe in, instead of buying into the image industry that is Hollywood. Unfortunately, unless there is some fiscal reward for them, celebrities of this candour appear to be very few and far between.