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Truman Syndrome: 21st century plague?

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Russia Today
Wednesday, Dec 03, 2008

More and more people in the world believe their life is nothing more than a reality show –surroundings are just decorations, events are script-written and staged, and people around are actors. Psychologists say this delusion named ‘Truman Syndrome’ has become the ‘syndrome of the 21st century.’

Joel and Ian Gold have dubbed the phenomenon two years ago, referring to a 1998 film, ‘The Truman Show’, in which the main character realises his whole life is a TV show broadcasted 24/7.

Britain’s The Daily Telegraph daily cites them as saying “The self-exposure, instant fame, culture peddled by reality shows, social networking internet sites such as Facebook and – above all – the home video-sharing website YouTube, has provided a “perfect storm” for vulnerable people, encouraging them to put their fantasies on a global stage.”


At the same time, the researchers do not claim that it is “a new form of mental illness” or “these people would be well if there was no YouTube.”

The Gold brothers say the delusion is difficult to treat, as those who suffer it are sure they can trust no one, and that their doctors are actors too.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

“The question is really: Is this just a new twist on an old paranoid or grandiose delusion … or is there sort of a perfect storm of the culture we’re in, in which fame holds such high value?” Joel Gold said.

And people suffering the delusion are many, with one girl committing suicide, as she believed it was the only way to ‘get out of the show,’ according to the brothers.

Another man showed up at a federal building asking to end his ‘show’.

Researchers in London describe a ‘Truman Syndrome’ patient in the British Journal of Psychiatry in August who “had a sense the world was slightly unreal, as if he was the eponymous hero in the film.”

And a study in Austria described a woman “believing she had become a walking webcam.”

Meanwhile experts are divided over syndrome’s nature. Some say the sufferers are ‘narcissists’ who want to become famous, with others saying sufferers, on the contrary, want to be “left alone.”

This article was posted: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 at 11:56 am

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