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Andrea Harner
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September 11, 2006

The Fame Motive by Benedict Carey

An interesting New York Times article on our desire to be famous. This is not only interesting because it tackles the most interesting question of human psychology but also because I just started taking two pyschology courses in preparation for grad school!

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Mental Health & Behavior
The Fame Motive

By BENEDICT CAREY
Published: August 22, 2006

Money and power are handy, but millions of ambitious people are after something other than the corner office or the beach house on St. Bart�s. They want to swivel necks, to light a flare in others� eyes, to walk into a crowded room and feel the conversation stop. They are busy networking, auditioning, talking up their latest project � a screenplay, a memoir, a new reality show � to satisfy a desire so obvious it is all but invisible.

What�s the formula for fame? Some write fictionalized memoirs, like James Frey, top; others, like Paris Hilton, above, become famous for, well, simply being famous.
�To be noticed, to be wanted, to be loved, to walk into a place and have others care about what you�re doing, even what you had for lunch that day: that�s what people want, in my opinion,� said Kaysar Ridha, 26, of Irvine, Calif., a recent favorite of fans of the popular CBS reality series �Big Brother.� �It�s strange and twisted, because when that attention does come, the irony is you want more privacy.�

For most of its existence, the field of psychology has ignored fame as a primary motivator of human behavior: it was considered too shallow, too culturally variable, too often mingled with other motives to be taken seriously. But in recent years, a small number of social scientists have begun to study and think about fame in a different way, ranking it with other goals, measuring its psychological effects, characterizing its devoted seekers.

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Comments

Decidedly, an interesting article. And yet... Why do I think the content was more about a thesis rather than a real or tangible psychological concept?

Humanity has been and probably always will be drawn to power and its trappings or at least the perceived understandings of these. Fame is nothing more than an artifact of that power. You cant have one without the other realistically.

As an example, how many famous people exist that do not, or perhaps cannot, exert some level of power or control be it judicial, political, influential, etc? Paris Hilton (not singling her out, just exampling) uses her power to get the choice seating at the restaurant of her choice; Paris fame brings the recognition initially but not the actual seating assignment. The power of her word (which admittedly is fleeting) is what commands the seating.

Its not about fame as much as it is about power control and manipulation of ones environment. Fame is just a bonus. The percentages of people who are motivated by fame are negligible and history has labeled those as narcissistic.

And there is an infamous Shakespearean quote associated with the practice of narcissism, Vanity, thy name is woman. Obviously, woman is man and man is woman; both genders are idiots, as the situation dictates. And vanity and narcissism are nothing more than pride. And pride is the most deadly of all sins, if you choose to believe in such trivialities.

Posted by: |mr|Darcy at September 11, 2006 10:09 PM

It's something I think about alot...
I want to be able to live with myself...to be good...to have integrity...
I appreciate you posting this...and it's especially relevant for me on a day like today...9/11...a day when so many "regular" people shined like the stars...
much love to you

Posted by: ko at September 11, 2006 11:00 PM
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