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Both Sides Of The Sudden Fame And Celebrity Coin

Susan Boyle was released just five days after voluntarily checking into the Priory Clinic in London for emotional exhaustion (or, anxiety, as her brother has stated). This is good news indeed, but after reading a few more articles about the situation, I’m now thinking about more behind-the-scenes issues that led to her problems.

I’m sure numerous factors went into setting the stage for Boyle’s emotional exhaustion; however, if I were to draw some sort of line graph illustrating those factors, know that “gaining sudden fame and success” would be at the beginning and “losing sudden fame and success” would be at the end.

I didn’t feel this way last week when we first learned of Boyle’s troubles. I simply thought she’d pushed herself very hard, for a very long time, and – with the Britain’s Got Talent competition ending – was finally feeling the negative impact of all that.

After reading the Telegraph article that shares some of Boyle’s brother’s thoughts, however, I realized things might go a bit deeper than that:

Mr. Boyle said Susan had spoken to people who had assured her it “wasn’t the end” for her singing career after finishing second in the contest.

“Things are becoming clearer for her now,” he said.

“She’s now beginning to believe that, ‘yes indeed, I will be a singer’.”

The kind of sudden fame Susan Boyle experienced thanks to Britain’s Got Talent is alone enough to knock many folks off balance. As Priory Clinic psychiatrist Chris Thompson pointed out, exposing yourself to that kind of instant celebrity is “terribly risky”:

“It seems to me a bit like walking out on to a branch and then sawing it off behind you.”

However, throw in the fear that the fame might go away – that, in Susan Boyle’s case, the dream of becoming a singer might never be realized – and it’s pretty easy to understand how it would all work together to bring emotional exhaustion and anxiety.

I’ve read several articles stating Simon Cowell is talking about producing an album for Boyle once her Britain’s Got Talent UK tour is over, and that’s great. Boyle is talented and an inspiration to many people, and I’d love to see her develop a singing career.

Yet, there’s still part of me that worries about her reaction to her own fear that her singing career might have been over before it ever really even got started.

I’ll admit my first reaction after reading Boyle’s brother’s quotes wasn’t a kind one. Falling apart over not winning the contest and how that might negatively affect her carrer – after all the show helped her experience and all the fans she gained – and then calming down once she realized her singing career still had a chance, didn’t sit well with me.

I’m human, and I have knee-jerk reactions sometimes.

After thinking about it for a while, though, I realized I might have very well reacted the same way. Imagine finally being recognized for your life’s passion, only to discover it might slip through your fingers at any moment (yeah, that’s a hard reality of life, but that doesn’t make it suck any less).

Susan Boyle seems healthy and happy now, and I’m glad for that. Still, as long as shows like Britain’s Got Talent and American Idol are around, so will be other Susan Boyle-like contestants. The Washington Post points out that “[e]xperts [have questioned] whether shows like ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and ‘American Idol’ are unnecessarily cruel,” and while I do believe they are unnecessarily cruel to a point (remember the year Simon told that one guy, Kenneth, that he looked like a creature from the jungle? I mean, really?), I don’t really think it’s related to what’s happening to the contestants who aren’t being verbally abused in some way. For those contestants, I think it’s a matter of – like I mentioned above – gaining sudden fame and success and then losing – or being afraid of losing – that sudden fame and success.

What do you think? Are these talent contests unnecessarily cruel? At the least, maybe too much for certain people to deal with? Does it all boil down to the particular contestant in question, or is putting oneself on this kind of roller coaster a bad idea for anyone?

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Both Sides Of The Sudden Fame And Celebrity Coin

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2011). Both Sides Of The Sudden Fame And Celebrity Coin. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 22 Jun 2011
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