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Sia’s Hidden Face: Addiction and Social Anxiety

Australian singer, Sia Furler, has been around for a long time but some may struggle to recognize her. She often refuses to be photographed for interviews and uses stand-ins like 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler to represent her in music videos.LOS ANGELES - FEB 08:  Sia & Maddie arrives to the Grammy Awards

She has, of course, written songs for herself (including the smash hit, “Chandelier”) but she’s found a real niche in penning tunes for others including Rihanna (“Diamonds”), David Guetta (“Titanium”) and Flo Rida (“Wild Ones”).  Rather than trying to soak up every bit of notoriety, Sia seems content to remain in the shadows despite her immense success.

While agreeing to an often-quoted article for the New York Times last year, she declined to have her picture taken and when she graced the cover of Billboard, she wore a paper bag over her head. Some have accused the star of trying to drum up publicity but, really, the answer is much simpler – fame makes her very uncomfortable.

Although she, as a solo artist, is suddenly very popular, she had a chance to come into the public eye back in 2005 when her ballad, “Breathe Me,” was used in the final scene of HBO series, Six Feet Under. The song went viral, selling 1.2 million copies and her manager even tried to seize the opportunity to launch a tour. The only problem was that Sia didn’t want that.

During her New York Times article, she explained: “It’s horrible. I just wanted to have a private life. Once, as my friend was telling me they had cancer, someone came up and asked, in the middle of the conversation, if they could take a photograph with me. You get me? That’s enough, right?” Indeed, the fan could not have known the situation but it’s easy to understand how someone would not want their private lives so trivialized.

Around this time, the singer admits to having become dependent on drugs and alcohol which, along with her demands and refusals to do promotional work, derailed any plans for a proper tour. Battling with addiction and an aversion to an increasing amount of attention, Sia started wearing (and making her band wear) black costumes and masks so that their faces could never been seen by the crowds.

By 2010, things had completely spun out of control and she gathered enough drugs to end her life. She wrote a suicide note but her life-ending plans were interrupted by a friend’s phone call. She entered a 12-step program and began to turn her life around. She started writing for other singers in order to tap into her creativity without subjecting herself to the limelight.

Today, her songs have sold more than 25 million copies and her album, 1000 Forms of Fear is performing very well, particularly due to the massive success of “Chandelier.” Her return as a solo artist is brave considering how badly things went last time but she’s taking control and emerging into the public eye on her own terms by limiting how much she is seen.

Now, in addition to attending “meditation workshops at Demi Moore’s house,” she is open about her “social phobia” and the need to protect herself.  She did pose for photographers at the premiere of Annie last December so, perhaps, she will begin testing the waters.

Sia’s Hidden Face: Addiction and Social Anxiety

Jeanne Croteau

Jeanne has been a celebrity blogger for eight years and also teaches psychology at the college level. In addition to her passion for mental health, she is an avid reader, hockey fan and mother of four.

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APA Reference
Croteau, J. (2015). Sia’s Hidden Face: Addiction and Social Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 Feb 2015
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