Leaving the Building: Elvis, Celebrity Biography and the Limits of Psychological Autopsy

Mark Duffett, Paula Hearsum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article probes the limits of one particular mode of biographic investigation—psychological autopsy—and considers its relationship to the way in which fans have sought to understand their hero. Using Elvis as a case study, we aim to prompt wider discussion about the efficacy of psychological autopsy as a means of understanding popular individuals. If psychological autopsy is so compromised, why does it remain popular? Our discussion develops in two parts. The first examines how psychological autopsy departs from objectivity and is problematic as theory. The second asks why fans are still interested in discussing why Elvis died, even though psychological autopsy necessarily lacks methodological rigour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019



  • Elvis
  • Death
  • Popular Music
  • Celebrity
  • psychological autopsy
  • fandom

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