Truman Show delusion

Today’s New York Times has a piece about a new psychiatric disorder, “Truman Show delusion,” in which people become convinced that, like the Jim Carrey character in Peter Weir’s The Truman Show, they are the stars of an all-encompassing reality TV show:

Dr. Joel Gold, who is writing a book about Truman Show delusion with his brother, said that three of the five patients he saw with the condition specifically mentioned the film. He said what distinguishes this delusion from most others is that it involves the patient’s entire world, and everything real is unreal.

Other delusions are typically narrowly focused—there is a microchip in my brain, aliens are trying to abduct me, I’ve been to Mars—and in those, things that are not real become real.

One of Dr. Gold’s patients told him, “My family and everyone I knew were actors in a script, a charade whose entire purpose is to make me the focus of the world’s attention.”

Another patient traveled to New York City and showed up at a federal building in downtown Manhattan seeking asylum so he could get off his reality show, Dr. Gold said.

The patient reported that he also came to New York to see if the Twin Towers were still standing, because he believed that seeing their destruction on Sept. 11 on television was part of his reality show. If they were still standing, he said, then he would know that the terrorist attack was all part of the script.

The full article is here. BoingBoing, not surprisingly, already picked up on the story a month ago.

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1 Response to Truman Show delusion

  1. Ted Chiang says:

    Sounds a little like the Capgras delusion, where you believe that a family member has been replaced by an imposter. That one is often triggered by a brain injury, though.

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