The second stage is the "intense-personal" stage when a celebrity worshipper shows addictive or compulsive elements of behavior. "People withdraw from family and friends and believe they have a close relationship with a celebrity and personal insights into their lives," explained Houran. "They might believe the celebrity is a soul mate and have frequent thoughts even when they don't want to."
The final stage involves "borderline pathologicals" who have a clinical problem with their celebrity obsession. "These people not only say they have a have close personal connection, but they are ready to act on an irrational belief," said Houran. "If my favorite celebrity asked me to do something illegal as a favor, I would do it."
At this level, fans are writing love notes to David Letterman or planning to break into George Clooney's house -- or worse.
"Loyalty is an illusion," said Houran. "These are people they don't even know."
Those who are less likely to move up the celebrity worship scale have strong, extroverted personalities. The most vulnerable are those who are more neurotic and tense, more narcissistic and impulsive -- "the kind of person who tends to act before thinking about it," according to Houran. Those who move furthest along the unhealthy scale usually experience high levels of anxiety and depression.
"From a social standpoint, people who are strong celebrity worshippers are lonely and desperate and feel disconnected from their social group," said Houran. "They may be going through an identity crisis, a divorce, a job loss."
Or -- as in the case of the vacuous, but vivacious Paris Hilton -- they seek to "identify with someone who can return unconditional love and acceptance."
Celebrity worship is fueled not only by the Internet, but by television shows that blur the line between entertainment and news -- "shrinking the distance between fans and celebrities" -- and the reality shows that make "everyone a celebrity," he said.
Not all celebrity promoters are evil -- many are positive mentors, giving their names to charity and serving as positive forces in society.
But warns Houran, Web sites like exposedparis.com exploit celebrity worshippers who are "already on a slippery slope," he said. "Any business that seeks to encourage false relationships instead of real ones feeds a special problem. It's like showing a piece of chocolate to a person on a diet."
Now, it will be up to the courts to decide whether in this case, any laws were broken.