Justin Bieber: The Crushing Power Of Fame

ImageRecently Justin Bieber was charged with drinking and driving, resisting arrest and drag racing in the streets of Miami. He was also accused of illegal drug use. These are just the latest of his recent antics that seem to show the pop star spiraling out of control.

“He’s only just turned 19 and he’s still learning to cope with the pressures of fame. But it’s worrying.” His grandmother Kathy Bieber has been quoted saying in a past interview.

There is a lot of pressure of fame that not everyone knows how to handle, especially a 19 year old that’s been pretty much raised his whole life to not only think that he is special, but that he is somehow above the rules and laws that “normal” people have to abide by.

This is something that happens with lots of celebrities as they feel the stress and pressure of the spotlight and began to think of themselves as “special” and begin to lose their sense of self-awareness.

There is a tremendous amount of stress that comes along with fame, when people are always watching you and expecting you to be in character every time you are in public. Fame can turn into a lonely, isolating and mistrustful place where losing yourself happens very quickly.

The people these celebrities typically surround themselves with are usually so eager to be close to fame that when they should be telling these people “You need to slow down. You need to watch what you are doing.”, they typically don’t. Instead, they become “yes” men and women. We’ve seen this over and over again with celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.

Psychologist Robert Millman created a theory called “acquired situational narcissism” to try to explain what happens when people acquire fame.

The theory basically states that when the world and the people closes to the famous person start to over praise that person and do not accurately reflect reality back to them, the celebrity stops knowing how to be in the world with other people because they are so used to being looked at that the celebrity stops learning how to be in the world with other people. They are used to everybody looking at them that they forget how to be in relationship and share equal responsibility. They become disconnected from reality, a form of narcissism where they believe they are extra “special”.

When you are surrounded by people who are willing to give you any and everything you want and not say “no” to you, it’s hard to learn how to restrain yourself. And when you have dozens if not more people around you everyday telling you how special you are, it’s hard to not start believing that. The constant praise and ability to get away with things creates a sense of entitlement that leads to worse and more extreme behaviors as these celebrities push the envelope to see just how “special” they really are.

These celebrities also tend to surround themselves with bad influences. “Yes” people who won’t tell them to stop, but will encourage their bad behavior. It is rumored that Justin Biebers dad helped block off the street in Miami so his son could drag race. If this is the case, his dad, wanting to share in the fame and fortune of his son is not likely to truly be a great parental influence out of fear that his son would push him away, which means instead of giving good fatherly advice, he is more likely to go with the flow even if the flow is against the law.

Some have asked if Justin Bieber is committing career suicide. I would say no to that. As long as he is rich and famous there are going to be fans who want to see him, even when he is doing outrageous antics. However, I’m more worried about Justin Bieber as a person. If he doesn’t start taking responsibility for himself and surrounding himself with people who aren’t afraid to reflect reality accurately back to him, he could end up in rehab, behind bars for a long time or worse.

He can definitely end up being the male version of Linsday Lohan and Britney Spears. At 19, he’s young enough to turn this whole thing around or throw it all away. I just hope out of his entire entourage there are at least some people who are grounded enough to be honest with him and that he is not too conceited or out of touch to actually listen and want to make the changes necessary to save not only his career, but his life.



On Domestic Violence And Why Women Stay

abuse10Have you been watching the Jodi Arias trial? It’s a fascinating one that’s for sure.

I haven’t so much as watched it as listened to it whenever I am in the car  and while I have my opinions, I’ll save that for after the trial.

The thing that caught my attention today was the domestic violence expert, who testified yesterday, Alyce LaViolette. LaViolette is a psychotherapist who specializes in domestic violence. Although I am not sure if Jodi Arias really was a victim of domestic violence, I do know that what LaViolette said about domestic violence rings true for millions of women.

Both men and women can be victims of domestic violence, but since the majority of domestic violence victims are women, I’ll be referring mostly to women in this post. And I have written about The Cycle of Violence, Power and Control in a previous post if you would like more information.

We Need Never Be Ashamed of Our Tears- Charles Dickens

Women who are abused often don’t tell anyone, even their closes friends and family because they are generally humiliated and ashamed of the abuse. They go through great lengths to hide the fact that they are being abused, even to the point of protecting their abuser and acting out on anyone who says anything bad against him, especially when they don’t want to look like they have made a bad choice in a partner.

On top of that, there is also the halo effect operating. That’s when someone keeps thinking about the one great quality about someone, despite the many bad ones and that keeps them from seeing the total picture. They are living in two different realities and will fight to keep the shame from one reality from entering the other.

Many women are afraid to leave their abuser and rightfully so, as leaving is usually the most dangerous time in the abuse cycle, when the woman is most likely to be severely hurt or killed. Many women also stay in hopes that things will change, despite the evidence that they probably won’t. They will see that their abuser has the potential to be a great mate, only if he wasn’t abusive.

Also, I’ve learned from working with abused women that they actually get brainwashed into believing that no one else will ever love them or want them,  so they stay because they start believing they are so ugly, worthless, fat, stupid, (insert insult here) that they are lucky that their abuser even wants them.

Case Example

I have a teenage client who is dating an older man. She’s over 18 so it’s legal, but this man she is dating has a bad temper problem. He blows up on her unpredictably and has even broken his phone by throwing it against the wall when she didn’t answer one of his phone calls.

He is also extremely controlling. They have only been together for about four months, but already he has isolated her from all of her friends and has her calling him at a particular time everyday or else “he gets really mad”.

He’s even already trying to get her to move away from her family and in with him, another way of isolating her from people who love her and would potentially see her bruises.

He hasn’t hit her, yet, and she doesn’t see anything wrong with their relationship. She loves him and thinks he “just has a temper” and he blames his anger on supplements he is taking which could be true, but I think it’s a cover for his explosive temper. All of her friends are worried about her, but she see’s their concern as unnecessary and even as signs of jealousy.

To me, a professional counselor who has counseled abuse victims and abusers, the writing is all over the walls. She’s already got one foot into a domestic violence relationship without even realizing it. It’s just a short matter of time before he puts his hands on her. He’s even got her thinking about stopping therapy with me because I am a male and he doesn’t like her associating with any males, even if it’s her therapist.

I’ve been working with her on self-esteem issues, but now we are primarily working on this sense she brings it up in therapy all the time, yet doesn’t seem willing or ready to do anything about it. She’s even already thinking of getting pregnant which I am sure he is also pushing on her.

Leslie Morgan Steiner: Why domestic violence victims don’t leave

If you have a few minutes, watch Leslie Morgan Steiner’s personal account of being in an abusive relationship. I’ve inserted the video below. I attempted to show this to the client mentioned above, but after a couple of minutes she refused to listen to any more although everything Steiner was experiencing in the initial stages of her relationship with her abuser, this young lady was experiencing almost exactly.

Steiner talks about the initial stages of abuse which are:

  1. Seduce and charm the victim
  2. Isolate the victim from friends and family
  3. Introduce the threat of violence to gauge their response to potential violence
  4. Actual violence and the continuation of the abuse/power and control cycle

I try not to push clients too hard too fast, after all it’s their lives and their choices, I just try to help them see the signs that say “detour” before they drive off the cliff. However often times we are too blinded by love, our own mess or even other people’s mess to see the signs right in front of us.

The Cycle of Violence, Power and Control

ImageWorking as a counselor in a high school, I am surprised at the amount of abuse many young girls I work with have gone through. Not to mention the sexual, physical and psychological abuse many of them went through growing up, but how much of that has affected them now as teenagers.

A surprising amount of young ladies in high school, and perhaps even in middle school are involved in physically abusive relationships. Having dealt with many of these young ladies, I’ve recognized that many of them believe that if a guy doesn’t hit or get physically rough with them, then “he doesn’t really love me”. This may not make any sense to most people, but a lot of these young ladies have grown up in homes where the people who “love” them, especially the men in their lives, are often the same people who abuse them, so many of these young ladies have subconsciously equated love with violence, manipulation and fear. Also, since many of the people who these women look to for protection, they also equate physical violence with a guys ability to protect them, even if it’s the guy himself they need protecting from.

I’ve had young ladies tell me that they would break up with a guy if he didn’t hit or push her when she got “out of line” because they believed they needed a man who was strong enough to keep them “in line”. They would say, “Sometimes I get get out of control, get a smart mouth and act a fool. I need someone who can put me in my place.” In most cases, these young women grew up in families where men (their fathers’, mother’s boyfriends, uncles, older brothers, etc.) physically, sexually and/or psychologically abused them.

Earlier this year I was walking through the halls of the high school I work at and heard yelling and shouting. I turned the corner and saw a boy attacking a girl. I quickly got between them and he was enraged, evening threatening me, but I didn’t care, I was more concerned about the young lady he was attacking. He quickly told me that it was none of my business and that was his girlfriend. I stayed between them waiting for assistance and then he walked away. I asked the young lady if she was okay, and shew as crying, but said she was okay and she was tired of him hitting on her. I tried to talk to her, but then he yelled for her to come with him and to my surprise she left and went with him. I tried to stop her, and by the time other teachers and security came they had walked off campus. I was so upset with the whole situation that it took me a few days to get it out of my mind. I never got the young lady’s name or I would have called her in and offered her counseling in hopes that with knowledge and empowerment she would leave that unhealthy relationship for a better one.

Also in college I dated a girl who had been physically abused by her father to the point that she was removed from her home. Ever since then and up until we met, every guy she dated physically abused her and I mean beat her like she meant nothing to them, leaving her with bruises and bloodied lips. She never learned how to separate love from abuse once it had forged together in her head.

I find this to be very sad and dangerous and is one of the issues I work extremely hard to correct because these young ladies are putting themselves in extremely dangerous situations that if not corrected will effect them for the rest of their lives along with any children they have. Girls who grow up witnessing violence, even if it is just heard or sensed (through tension, visual cues) are more likely to date guys who will put their hands on them and boys who grow up in that same situation are more likely to think it’s okay to put their hands on women they claim to love.

It’s extremely important that if you are the victim of abuse that you get help. Check out http://www.thehotline.org or any other resources in your area. Look at the Cycle of Violence and the Power of Control wheels below. It doesn’t get better, only repeats and gets worse.