A study of 250 Trekkies by Dr Sandy Wilson and Dr Ian Inglis of Northumbria University revealed that a small proportion of fans showed this obsessive trait, and developed anxiety and stress symptoms if deprived of regular viewing.
However, the majority of fans were healthy, happy individuals - perhaps a little on the shy side - who derived enormous enjoyment and wide social contact through their interest in Star Trek. "They are not lonely, inadequate people who are drifting in a nether world of Star Trek which is the common stereotype. They are the same as any other fan of opera, wine or music," Dr Inglis said.
More than half of Trekkies in the study were married, a quarter had degrees and 53 per cent were women. Their age ranged from 7 to 69 and they came from every occupational and educational background.
Many said they were inspired to study science by watching Star Trek as a child. Others said they drew inspiration from the programme in times of trouble.
Dr Inglis said that the philosophy of the early Star Trek series - of a harmonious universe free of racism and sexism - appealed to many fans. "These were radical ideas explored and developed by the series in the Sixties," he added.
However, Star Trek, The New Generation was now surpassing the original in popularity. "The optimism of these films may be providing an antidote to the bleakness of the Eighties and Nineties," he said.Reuse content