Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reality Show Delusions

Just read an interesting article in my latest Fortean Times magazine, which describes a newly identified mental illness called the Truman Show Delusion. 

Now, The Truman Show happens to be one of my favourite films of all time and I think Jim Carrey is sensational in it. I had been ambivalent about him previously but he completely won me over in the role of Truman Burbank. For me, The Truman Show is a prison break movie, but obviously now in the world of modern psychiatry and the world of psychoses,  it has evolved into something else entirely. 

Apparently, two psychiatrist brothers from Montreal, Canada, Joel and Ian Gold, have noticed an increase in the frequency of patients (usually educated white men aged 24 to 34) who believe they are the subjects of their own reality television shows. Joe Gold, 39, who has worked at New York's Bellevue Hospital for eight years says:
"The delusions we typically treat are narrow: there is the Capgras delusion, where someone will think his family has been replaced by doubles. Or the Fregoli delusion, where someone believes that one person is persecuting him: a doctor, mailman, butcher. The Truman Show delusion, though, involve the entire world..."

"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.
Apparently, there are at least 40 reported cases in the world thus far. Makes you wonder whether delusions evolve in line with the prevailing cultural landscape. What, for example, would have been the equivalent of this delusion in Victorian times or the Renaissance period in Europe?

In the meantime, you can learn more at the International Herald Tribune. 

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