People with Truman Show Delusion mental illness think they’re on reality TV

A new mental illness has been identified by Canadian psychiatrists: The Truman Show delusion, named after the excellent, prescient film of the same name, which involves people who think they’re on a reality TV show, even though they’re not.

The psychiatrists, who are also brothers, “could have easily called their new disorder the EDtv Delusion or the Matrix Delusion — both films that refer to an unreal existence– three of the five patients he treated at the storied mental health hospital directly likened their plight to The Truman Show, the 1998 film about Truman Burbank, an affable suburbanite who slowly becomes aware that his every movement is broadcast 24/7 to voyeuristic viewers around the world,” according to The National Post.

“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,” Dr. Joel Gold told the paper.

Dr. Ian Gold said, “The wish for fame is a form of grandiosity, and the fear of threats such as surveillance can bring about paranoia. New media is opening up vast social spaces that might be interacting with psychological processes.”

One patient said, “I realized that I was and am the centre, the focus of attention by millions and millions of people. 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.”

Reality bites [National Post via Joe.My.God.]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.