Mental Health Issues in Fandom

Call for Chapters

Deadline: June 30, 2021

Editors: CarrieLynn D. Reinhard (Dominican University), Ben Abelson (Mercy College) and Allison R. Levin (Webster University)

Before the concretization of fan studies as an academic discipline, fans would routinely be labeled and treated as “fanatics” — people with excessive love for something or someone that could lead them to engage in maladaptive, even dangerous, behavior. Over time the term mental health disorders developed to mean a condition that affects a person’s behavioral, and emotional well-being. As both fanaticism and mental health are framed as being all about how people think, feel, and behave, public discourse framed fandom as a mental health issue. Along with being problematic due to class, racial, gender and other issues, this positioning meant that fandom was not well understood until the recent couple decades.

Now, scholars return to this idea of mental health and fandom, but for the purposes of understanding how being a fan relates to their own mental health. This collection explores what fans learn about mental health from their fandoms and how their fandoms can impact their own mental health, for better or worse. Discussing these issues and intersections will further our understanding of the complex ways in which fandom weaves into people’s lives.

Fans experience and express issues with mental health in various ways. The theoretical and empirical essays intended for this collection demonstrate the importance of neither deriding nor lauding fans and fandom. Instead, they engage with fans to understand how their fandom operates as another component of their lives, which can have positive and negative impacts on their mental health. Such examinations can further reduce any lingering stigma associated with fandom as well as highlight true areas of concern that fans and their communities would benefit from better understanding.

We are looking for empirical essays that consider the mental health issues experienced by fans, within fan communities, and/or related to fandom. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Prevalence of mental health issues within fan communities
  • How fans negotiate mental health issues
  • How fandoms cause mental health issues
  • Using fandom as a therapeutic tool
  • Representation of fans’ mental health issues
  • Fan activity as therapy
  • What causes mental health issues within fans, fan communities, fandoms
  • How fandom helps people cope
  • How fans learn about mental health issues
  • How fans talk about mental health issues
  • Negative aspects of mental health issues in fandom
  • Positive aspects of mental health issues in fandom

Chapter guidelines

Seeking empirically-based essays of 6000-7000 words, inclusive of references (APA citation style)

Current timeline:

  • First chapter drafts due June 30, 2021
  • Peer reviews due by July 31, 2021
  • Final chapter drafts due by September 30, 2021
  • Final manuscript submitted by October 31, 2021 for consideration

Contact CarrieLynn Reinhard with any questions: