The Truman Show Syndrome, the psychological disorder that makes people think they are on a reality TV show.
Can a TV show or movie make someone go crazy? Well, according to the latest research, yes.
The Truman show delusion, which is also known as the Truman Syndrome, is a type of delusion in which people believe their lives are staged theatrical plays or reality TV shows.
This type of delusion includes two parts, psychologists call them, persecutory and grandiose delusions. Persecutory delusions are a delusional condition in which someone feels that they are going to be harmed by someone or something. While, Grandiose delusions, which occurs in a variety of mental illnesses, are fantastiscal beliefs that one is famous, wealthy, or otherwise powerful when reality they are not.
Together these delusions and the belief they are on a reality show brings upon the Truman Syndrome.
The term was created by brothers Joel and Ian Gold, a psychiatrist and neurophilospher, after the 1998 film The Truman Show. While it is not officially recognized as a psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statiscal Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, there are numerous cases in which people demonstrate signs of the Truman Syndome.
What is the Truman Show?
The Truman Show is the critically acclaimed comedy/drama movie directed by Peter Weir and featuring Jim Carrey. Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a man who discovers he is living in a constructed reality TV show that airs around the clock. From the moment he is conceived, every part of his life has been televised, and all the people in his life are paid actors. As he discovers the truth about his existence, Burbank fights to find an escape from those that have controlled every aspect of his entire life.
The concept of The Truman Show was first aired on a 1980s episode of the Twilight Zone, "Special Service", which starts with the main character discovering a camera in his bathroom. The man later learns that his life is being broadcast to people all over the world.
What about the Truman Show delusions?
Truman ShowDelusions are symptoms that are associated with several mental illnesses. And certain type of delusisons are associated with psychosis - "loss of contact with reality". People that exhibit psychosis are described as psychotic and may demonstrate unusual or bizarre behavior, such as being unable to carry out daily life activities.
Most recently, due to the impact of the Truman Show movie had in American culture, there has been an increase in the number of associated Truman Show delusions, whereby people constantly feel as though they are on a reality show. For instance, people once believed that they were being followed by the government. But, as Psychiatrist Joseph Weiner commented:
...in the 1940s, psychotic patients would express delusions about their brains being controlled by radio waves; now delusional patients commonly complain about implanted computer chips.
The Truman Show could represent a further change in the content of persecutory delusions in reaction to the number of reality shows on TV.
Because reality shows are so visible, it is an area that a patient can easily incorporate into a delusional system. Such a person would believe they are constantly being videotaped, watched, and commented upon by a large TV audience.
How many people have the Truman Show Syndrome?
According to reports, there have been over 40 recorded instances of people dealing with the Truman Show Delusion in the United States and the U.K. Joel Gold, a psychiatrist at New York City's famous, Bellevue Hospital Center, is the leading researcher behind the Truman Show Syndrome. Along with his brother, a research chair in Philosophy and Psychiatry at Montreal's McGill Universty, over the course of 13 years they have found well over a dozen people with the Truman Show Syndrome. Typically, the Truman Syndrome affects white men between 24 and 34.
In fact, Dr. Joel Gold reports a man believed he was a being recorded 24/7 by a reality show so he traveled to New York City after 9/11 to make sure the terrorist attacks were not a plot twist on his personal reality show, while another man traveled to New York City to ask for help from the reality show cameras.
What is interesting is that another patient, who actually worked as an intern on a reality TV program believed he was being tracked by camera.
One of Gold's patients was an Army patient who wanted to climb the Statue of Liberty because he believed that is the only way he can get released from "the show":
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.
In the United Kingdom., 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 describe Truman Syndrome as the following:
[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.
The Truman Show Syndrome and The Matrix?
Following the release of The Matrix many people have argued and believe that they are living a simulated reality. For instance, people argue that reality could be simulated by a computer making it difficult for someone to tell the difference between "True" reality.
So...Is The Truman Show Syndrome real?
While the Truman Show Syndrome is not officially recognized as an actual psychotic disorder, doctors argue that it is a form of delusions that is so unique that cannot be really explained without associated with pop-culture and the movie The Truman Show. Truman Show