Does Media Exposure Help or Hurt Today’s Stars?

In a recent question and answer forum, Dr. Holly Hein, who received her doctorate from the Institute of Clinical Social Work in Berkeley, California, addressed the prevalence of media exposure and the wave of celebrity breakdowns. She says, “The intense spotlight placed on celebrities only romanticizes the personal emotional problems many of us have as we try to live our lives. Those who are able to live as well adjusted people in their families would do so whether they were celebrities or not. It is difficult to want celebrity and then hide personal problems that are acted out.”

Dr. Hein suggests that the intense media scrutiny can be a double-edged sword. In some cases it brings mental issues to the forefront and expedites necessary treatment for people suffering these illnesses, such as Brittany Spears. Whereas years ago, when media coverage was minimal, many stars like Elvis Presley, fought their own demons behind closed doors and were not pushed to receive the care they so desperately needed.

The negative impact that heightened exposure has is two fold. First, the intense pressure of the spotlight can elevate stress levels and intensify symptoms. Secondly, public opinion may steer a person in the wrong direction for proper treatment. Because the media only reveals snippets of a person’s daily mood fluctuations, public figures are often immediately labeled based on limited information. Dr. Joe Calabrese , director of the Mood Disorders Program at University Hospitals, said in a recent article that it is impossible to diagnose Sheen without a proper examination, but also said he is exhibiting some of the classic signs of the manic phase of bipolar. Increased exposure can exacerbate symptoms of an underlying illness but hopefully will provide enough concern for the person at risk to seek the right form of treatment.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Eliza


    March 9th, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    It definitely hurts them. With all of the publicity everyone is feeding into the issues that they already have, giving them attention when they probably don’t need it.



    March 9th, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Media exposure helps celebs as long as they are using it to their advantage and benefit.But as soon as something is wrong or they are not behind their shiny-and-nice mask,things definitely turn ugly.

    This is the reason why we see so many celebs making use of every opportunity to be covered by the media but when they are shown in poor light,they cry about how their privacy has been breached.

  • brian l

    brian l

    March 9th, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    couldn’t agree more with you Luke Kenny…I couldn’t have said it any better myself :)

  • Eric S

    Eric S

    March 10th, 2011 at 5:39 AM

    I cannot imagine having everything personal in my life played out in front of the camera and on magazine covers. But with that being said I cannot help but in some way think that these are people who sought out this kind of life, that they knew what they would be getting into and the dangers that they could face with that i.e. giving up that privacy, when they chose their career and method for making a living. I think that it is horrible that so many of them crash and burn and have to do it in the spotlight but I honestly think that for many of them they would have it no other way. They crave that attention that comes along with it.

  • Susanne


    March 15th, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    I don’t believe it does any good. The media forgets that celebs are human beings. A celebrity can be seen with a man and the headlines are “Is he gay!?” “Is she cheating!?” “Are they going to do something in the next movie!?” within fifteen seconds. Give them some peace!

  • Frances


    March 16th, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    It’s no wonder that child stars who are harassed by the media end up turning to drug abuse to cope. I fully support the freedom of the media, but they need to learn to back off when that celebrity is evidently stressed the heck out.

  • Tina


    March 16th, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    We have a famous person living in my home town and I’ve actually exchanged small talk with her and her husband. But I didn’t stick my nose into their personal life while doing so. Being famous doesn’t mean you are public property! I wouldn’t dream of being so crass.

  • Joanna


    March 16th, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    Maybe the media would tighten their leash if we started harassing them and bringing all their personal issues to the spotlight. Famous people don’t have any less or more rights than ordinary people, and some of the press won’t learn unless they themselves experience it. Would the journalists like it if we started dissecting their lives and going over everything they ever did and every relationship they ever had with a fine toothcomb?

  • charles


    March 18th, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    A rational person with good intentions would say this.

    “We need to keep our distance from celebrities who are having a hard time. We should respect their privacy, and cite our sources of facts, not speculate and gossip. They should be treated like the Mafia; if the family is involved, stay out of it.”

    A member of the paparazzi would say “HE’S NOT SUPPORTING THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS!”. They’re all selfish.

  • kerry


    May 3rd, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    Because celebrities is some of our children’s role models and heroes we have every right to know about their personal life. our kids don’t just look up to them because they can sing or act but they look at what they do how they do and where they do it. To protect our future ‘role models’ we should know about what celebrities are up to to. This is the life they chose and now they must deal with it.

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on