We talk to Daniel Mansson, clinical psychologist and co-founder of Flow, a revolutionary medicine free wearable device for the treatment of depression, to find out the true outlook for this year’s Love Islanders – and the invaluable advice for anyone thinking of applying for next season.
Since the concern for Love Island contestants reached it peak after former Love Island and Celebs Go Dating contestant, Mike Thalassitis, was found dead by suicide earlier this year, and another former Islander, Sophie Gradon took her own life last June, producers of the hit reality show have tried to safeguard against the negative effects of sudden fame. They’ve released a new Duty Of Care statement, promised enhanced psychological support, more detailed conversations with Islanders regarding the impact of participation on the show, bespoke training for all Islanders on social media and financial management and a proactive aftercare package which extends our support to all Islanders following their participation. But it is enough? Or is there an inherent, unavoidable peril to a sudden and stratospheric rise to fame, as well as the fall that inevitable follows?
What is the psychological impact of such sudden fame?
Whitney Houston once said that fame “made you a personality instead of a person”. This is particularly true with sudden fame as it produces a disparity between the real you and a version of you created by the media and, in particular, social media. Psychologically speaking, this loss of self that sudden fame often produces is particularly damaging to the individual, and can lead to feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem and, in some cases, suicide.
The loss of self can be very hard to deal with, especially if the media version of you is a negative one – for example, if you’re constantly being trolled online. Sudden fame can also produce a sense of intense dread – a fear that this new found celebrity status could disappear equally quickly. Psychologically, this could lead to a further negative spiral of toxic thought, and produce obsessive behaviour as the individual struggles to retain the attention of their fans and the media.
Scientists have found that the feeling of fame, and the power that goes with it, can be highly addictive as it has a similar effect on the brain to cocaine which both lead to raised dopamine levels. This can create a sense of sudden euphoria and confidence – but the flip-side can manifest itself in many ways; from feelings of arrogance and impatience, to a heightened sense of paranoia and anxiety.
Could contestants still be at risk of mental health problems, even with the improved support?