Justin Bieber was recently implicated in a bar fight that left a man unconscious in a parking lot. Though it is believed that members Bieber’s “posse” were the ones directly involved with the assault, and that the victim had acted aggressively as well, this incident is the latest in a string of bad behavior for the pop star.
Is Justin Bieber a bad apple, or does teen stardom inevitably lead to a troubled early adulthood? We spoke with a few experts to find out.
I’m a well-known psychiatrist – and expert witness – who is regularly called upon to analyze celebrities’ behavior – including Justin Bieber. Child stars are notorious for getting into trouble as they grow up
-their fans want them to stay little and cute so that time can seem to stand still
-the public gets bored with them after a while
-they’ve outlived their 15 minutes
-they stop trying so hard to please and want to live on their laurels.
Carole Lieberman M.D.
Media Psychiatrist and Bestselling Author
Child celebrities are exposed to the demands of the adult world, most significantly to the criticism and bashing of the celebrity culture.
They did not have time to develop the emotional skills to handle the feeling of shame and to develop good self-worth. So when exposed to criticism, it feels emotionally threatening and the brain reacts in a primal fashion, similar to a reaction to a physical threat. This is the fear response or the “fight-or-flight” response. They may get angry, lash out or have outlandish outbursts, all in an effort to protect themselves the only way they know how. This shouldn’t be surprising at all if we look at it as a normal protective response.
Harper West, MA, TLLP
Author of “Pack Leader Psychology”
Not all child actors, musicians and stars grow up angry or ill behaved. In fact, Ricky Schroder is an example of a child actor who has grown up to be a very productive and respectful adult actor, husband and father. And whether you think they’re weird or not, the Olson twins have become responsible adult fashionistas. Jody Foster, a child star, herself, is now a single mother and adult actress and director. And there are more. However, there are reasons that children who become stars, like Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber to name two, also become badly behaved:
* Child stars are treated unrealistically. They have power and money and adults kowtow to them in order to either ride the money train as agents, managers, momagers, dodgers and others — or simply to not lose their own jobs at the whim of a child or tween who has the director’s ear. They are not held to the same responsibilities that normal kids are, like getting grounded for bad behavior or bad grades. This sets kids up to have an unrealistic view of life as an adult.
* Child stars are around adults behaving badly a lot more often than regular children are. Child stars grow up on television and movie sets as well as on concert tours where drugs, sex, bad behavior and bad language are the norm. These kids, like the former child star Drew Barrymore, are offered drugs, valued for their sexualized images and interacting with adults in ways that normal children who interact with their teachers, their sports coaches and their friends’ parents, are not.
* When child stars become teens, their hormones act up like any other person’s would — only they have money, cars, power, sex, drugs, jobs and a team of professionals — that they can use and manipulate in ways that normal kids don’t. They often blow through millions of dollars they’ve earned as child stars, on drugs, impulsive spending and in Bieber’s case, cars.
* Parents of these child stars are often different than normal parents. They take derivative pleasure in the spotlight and in their child’s success. You’ll sometimes see Little League dads imposing their own athletic dreams on their kids — and fisticuffs break out in the stands as a result. In Hollywood, these parents grab their own little sliver of their child’s spotlight — Bieber’s mom just published a book, the Kardashian mom grabbed her own talk show, and former child star, McCauley Culkin, broke ranks with his parents for taking a cut of his paychecks. These are not parents who steer their kids towards a productive life. Instead, these parents steer kids into the spotlight to fulfill dreams they couldn’t.
It’s the same story behind Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Miley Cyrus, and so many other child stars. Once they become the “ward of the PR professional” they lose all hope for discipline (and I do NOT mean physical punishment), consequences, or moral direction. When these kiddos get larger than life and every adult on the planet is at their beck and call, they can do no wrong and everyone breaks their back to make/keep them happy. They never learn things like “sometimes I love you, but I don’t like you,” or, “that behavior was unacceptable. You’re grounded!” There are no lessons on how to be a decent human being, because no one cares about these kids growing up to make great friends, get a decent job and live a happy family life! All they care about is keeping the chimp happy so it performs well and brings in the cash. Moms and Dads (and grandparents and any other good role model) are pushed out of the picture and/or silenced so as not to upset the precious jewels and these kids turn into raging, irresponsible, unaccountable jerks who couldn’t make a value driven judgment call if their next gig depended on it (clearly).
So, is there hope for the next Justin Bieber’s of the world? Yeah. When you let their Mommas have ’em back!
Parenting Advocate, Radio/TV Personality & Author
Mostly because of the intense stress and inappropriate sexualization of said stars. Did you see Bieber on TV when Jenny McCarthy tried to kiss him – he was really disgusted. I expect in the music industry and from fans that sort of thing happens constantly. By now, I would not be surprised if he had a raging case of PTSD.
Susan Pease Banitt, LCSW, RYT
Author, Speaker, Consultant, Teacher
Lotus Heart Counseling
Child stars like Justin Bieber were never taught the same impulse control skills as non-celebrity children. Unlike other children who are given consequences for bad behavior, leading them (hopefully) to stop doing it, many child stars are allowed to get away with anything. While adults may think this “special” treatment is a perk of being a celebrity, it in fact is quite damaging to a child’s psychological health.
Children need to learn what is right and what is wrong when it comes to their behavior. And they need consistent consequences when they abide by the rules as well as when they cross the line. Otherwise, they “learn” that it is OK to act any way their entitled self wants to act.
My coaching business with high wealth clients leads me to work with executives and celebrities. In fact, you can see my interview on The Today Show discussing Cory Montieth here:
Elizabeth R. Lombardo, Ph.D., M.S., P.T
Author of the bestselling book “A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for
Psychologist & Physical Therapist
I’m the author of the biography of Christian Bale – an actor who definitely grew up angry from sweet child actor to the guy who allegedly assaulted his mother and sister in 2008 and infamously blew up on the set of TERMINATOR SALVATION.
I have a theory about child celebrities – especially those raised by single parents. The parent/child relationship becomes warped when the parent is suddenly finally dependent on their child. They are told what to do by parent/managers, agents, publicists, studio minders, and suddenly they hit adulthood and seethe with resentment. Just look at the list of child actors in trouble and they are consistently in a single-parent environment.
‘Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman’