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The psychopathology of fame and the death of Michael Hutchence

By Raj Persaud   March 1998

Psychologists and psychiatrists have neglected the study of fame, possibly because it is difficult to recruit celebrities for experiments. But the list of the famous who have died young from suicide or suicidal behaviour includes River Phoenix (23), Jimi Hendrix (27), Kurt Cobain (27), Jim Morrison (27), Janis Joplin (27), Sylvia Plath (30) and Marilyn Monroe (36). Michael Hutchence, the rock star, has once again drawn attention to the psychopathology of fame.

The standard view in psychiatry has been that the kind of personality which pursues-and attains-fame may be one already predisposed to psychological problems, even before the stress of…

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