The Truman Show delusion

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The Truman Show delusion is a delusion some people have. It is named after The Truman Show, a movie from 1998. In the movie, the main character discovers that he is living in a constructed reality that is shown on television. All people except the main character of the movie are paid actors. People with this disorder have delusions about being followed. The may also think that they are famous. As of 2012, there were over forty reported cases of this delusion, in the U.S and the United Kingdom.

One of the patients, an upper-middle class Army veteran who wanted to climb the Statue of Liberty in the belief that doing so would release him from the "show",[1][2] described his condition this way:

I realized that I was and am the center, 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.[1]

The choice of the name "Truman Show Delusion" by the Golds was influenced by the fact that three of the five patients Joel Gold initially treated for the syndrome explicitly linked their perceived experiences to the film.[1]

Truman Syndrome[change | change source]

In the U.K., psychiatrists Paolo Fusar-Poli, Oliver Howes, Lucia Valmaggia and Philip McGuire of the Institute of Psychiatry in London described in the British Journal of Psychiatry what they referred to as the "Truman Syndrome":

[A] preoccupying belief that the world had changed in some way that other people were aware of, which he interpreted as indicating he was the subject of a film and living in a film set (a ‘fabricated world’). This cluster of symptoms ... is a common presenting complaint in individuals ... who may be in the prodromal phase of schizophrenia.[3]

The authors suggest that the "Truman explanation" is a result of the patients' search for meaning in their perception that the ordinary world has changed in some significant but inexplicable way.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Reality Bites" National Post (July 21, 2008)
  2. Ellison, Jesse "When Life is Like a TV Show" Newsweek (August 2, 2008)
  3. Fusar-Poli, Paolo; Howes, O.; Valmaggia, L.; McGuire, P. (2008). "'Truman' signs and vulnerability to psychosis". British Journal of Psychiatry. 193 (2): 168. doi:10.1192/bjp.193.2.168. PMID 18670010.