Main | Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Truman Show Delusion

Two psychiatrists have identified the "signature mental illness" of the YouTube era, people who think they are the star of their own reality show.
The five patients Dr. Gold treated were white men between the ages of 25 and 34, the majority of whom held university degrees. "I realized that I was and am the centre, the focus of attention by millions and millions of people," explained one patient, an army veteran who came from an upper-middle-class upbringing.

"My family and everyone I knew were and are actors in a script, a charade whose entire purpose is to make me the focus of the world's attention." The patient added that he planned to climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty, and if his true love were waiting for him, the puppeteer strings would be cut. If she failed to show up, he would jump to his death.

Another patient even had first-hand experience with reality TV: A 25-year-old New Englander with a bachelor's degree in film and communication studies worked as intern on a program where, he complained, cameras were secretly tracking him.

Thinking that he was also being filmed while at a polling station on Election Day in 2004, he felt that it was his duty to protest against the Bush administration by shouting that the President was "Judas." The outburst led to his admission to the Bellevue Center.

"Typically, the Truman Show Delusion is a combination of paranoia, grandiosity and ideas of reference, which means that patients believe they are receiving signals specifically meant for them from a newscast or something like that." said Dr. Gold, adding that since he started presenting these cases at conferences two years ago, colleagues have informed him of six more examples.
And here just last week somebody told me that blogging was a "one man reality show." Hmmmm.

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