The scariest reality of all.
Remember The Truman Show?
The 1998 film is is based on the premise that the life of Truman Burbank (played by Jim Carrey) is a reality TV show, with actors playing the roles of his family and friends. He just doesn’t know it.
For increasing numbers of mentally ill people, the plot of the 1998 film is their reality.
Though it’s not officially recognised in the in the psychiatry diagnostic manual, ‘The Truman Show delusion’ was coined in 2008 to describe the delusional thinking of those that believe they are the star of a reality television show or movie.
Psychiatrist Dr Joel Gold said he didn’t consider the first presentation of these delusions to be that significant.
He told ABC’s Radio National a man named Albert went to the United Nations to seek asylum from the reality show that was his life and was taken to Bellevue’s psychiatric emergency room, where he encountered Dr Gold.
“He believed everyone in his life was an actor reading from scripts, including his family,” Dr Gold said.
“Everything about his life was inauthentic, much like in The Truman Show.”
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It wasn’t until years later that Albert was recognised as the first patient to present with The Truman Show delusion.
“We see so many fascinating and bizarre kinds of delusions, that at the time it was interesting but not more so than a patient who thought that they were a vampire,” Dr Gold said.
“But over the course of the next months I saw a second, then third, and ultimately five people.
“And they all believed the same thing. They would say, “Dr Gold, did you see the film?’ And I had, and they said, “Yes that’s my life just like that movie.” And at that point I thought this is something worth looking into.”
The delusions alone are not a mental illness, but symptoms of psychosis, which could be caused by bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse or dementia.
The paranoid-type thinking just has a name and a way of patients to describe their experiences – courtesy of a Jim Carrey movie.