Celebrity Psychological Issues No. 17 – Fraud and the impostor syndrome

The questions I was running from were: ‘Is this success all a fluke? Had I been fooling everybody so far? Will I get caught?’ Charlie Sheen

Here is Celebrity Psychological Issue No. 17 of the Top 20 issues of being a celebrity. For the previous article, for issue No. 16, click here.

17. “I am a fraud. They’re going to find out the truth about me” – Impostor Syndrome

This is the one issue that is common to everybody!


It doesn’t matter who you are, how famous, powerful, rich, successful, intelligent, educated or beautiful you might be; we all subconsciously doubt ourselves and question our value, believing that we are not good enough – we are impostors!

“I’d begun drinking all the time. We shot in New York City, so I’d be out to the bars every night till 3 or 4 a.m., then try to show up for a 6 o’clock call to stand toe to toe with Michael Douglas and handle 50% of a scene…The questions I was running from were: ‘Is this success all a fluke? Had I been fooling everybody so far? Will I get caught?’ It was easy to get hammered and messed up. But in doing so, I buried my self-respect, I buried my self-esteem, I buried my creative drive, and I damned near buried myself.” – Charlie Sheen, 1987, talking about the filming of “Wall St” and his challenges believing in himself and his value.  https://patrickwanis.com/blog/are-you-an-impostor/

“Today I feel much like I did when I came to Harvard Yard as a freshman in 1999. I felt like there had been some mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress… I’m still insecure about my own worthiness…I, too, battled self-doubt.” – Natalie Portman’s speech to graduating Harvard seniors, revealing her self-doubt and impostor syndrome after she enrolled in Harvard following the release of “Star Wars: Episode 1.” 2015

“It worries me, because the whole Twilight thing keeps getting bigger and bigger, and now it’s so big that even my own ego can’t cope with it…A certain amount of success you can mentally deal with, but there’s a point where you think, ‘Jesus Christ, what is this? I’m not that great!’”
– Robert Pattinson https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/6531517/Robert-Pattinson-Twilight-hysteria-is-a-little-frightening.html

“Part of me suspects that I’m a loser and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.” – John Lennon interview with Playboy magazine, January 1981 https://www.recmusicbeatles.com/public/files/bbs/jl_yo.playboy/lennon4.html

It is difficult for people to understand how someone who has an abundance of success, fame and fortune could possibly think he/she isn’t good enough, a fraud even.

The explanation is simple.

What we experience as children forms our beliefs – albeit subconscious beliefs.

Endless reasons lead one to believe he/she isn’t good enough, isn’t worthy and doesn’t deserve love, joy, success and happiness – and in some cases, even undeserving of attention and praise.

Some of those reasons might be, but are not limited to: abandonment, neglect, abuse, trauma, favoritism of a sibling, criticism, judgment, love withheld, lack of affection, lack of attention, lack of approval and acceptance, and, feelings of invisibility.

Celebrities who engage in histrionics do so out of the need to garner extreme attention. And they do it via shocking and often inappropriate acts – highly excessive and dramatic with intensely exaggerated emotions. Again, these histrionic behaviors are driven by deep subconscious beliefs and feelings of inferiority along with the fear of intimacy and rejection.

“I’m a fat slob! I’m so ugly and untalented. They’re going to find me out!” – Judy Garland,  at the wrap party for her last M-G-M production, confiding in one of the film’s music directors

Thus, if you subconsciously believe you aren’t worthy of attention or praise, when you do receive them, you will begin to sabotage your life and success. (I refer to this form of self-sabotage as the Law of Deservedness – watch the video https://youtu.be/mgZFPLQ-K-c ) In fact, the more you get of what you don’t believe you are subconsciously worth, the worse it will make you feel instead of making you feel better.

Admittedly, it seems like a contradiction, that you, the celebrity, should subconsciously believe you aren’t worthy and yet I mention that celebrities experience entitlement and “Don’t you know who I am?”

The ‘I am not good enough’ is the subconscious belief and the ‘I am special’ belief is created, driven by the constant evidence that you are so great and so special. And yet, you don’t believe the latter subconsciously, so there is a constant tug of war occurring – verging on Cognitive Dissonance.

“What is the dirt that the pearl is built around? And the pearl is the personality that you build around yourself as a protection against that thought ‘If they ever find out that I’m worthless, if they ever find out that I’m not enough, I’ll be destroyed.'”
– Jim Carrey (Watch the video of Jim Carrey revealing his fear and subconscious belief about not being good enough)

“I think I am like anyone – I have massive hang-ups about my physical appearance,” he says. “I was a very skinny kid but I played a lot of sport. I took rugby very seriously but I always felt skinny and small. And now I have the same insecurities as when I was a kid. If I see an image of myself, all I see is this skinny kid and I don’t like it. I only had four weeks to work out for this role. I would have liked more time. But like I said, I don’t think I am ever going to be happy with how I look.” – Jamie Dornan speaking about his preparation and role as Christian Grey in “Fifty  Shades of Grey” film https://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/fifty-shades-grey-star-jamie-5140699

“Self-doubt – and I’m loaded with it – keeps us grounded in a way. We’re not gods. But it can also be quite crippling. I have to actually boost myself against my inner nature, which had been for many years negative, destructive, all that stuff. I have to go against my own inclination and overcome. And there’s a resistance inside me that says, ‘Are you for real?’ Yes, I am.’” Sir Anthony Hopkins on self-doubt

For the next top Celebrity Psychological Issue, number 18 & 19, click here

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