In the film “The Truman Show,” Jim Carrey plays a man who is an unknowing star of a TV show. His life is streamed to an audience at all times.
The movie spawned a moniker for a psychological delusion in which patients believe they’re being watched or controlled: the “Truman Show delusion.”
A psychiatrist who has treated patients with this delusion says the condition existed long before the movie came out. Throughout history, some people have felt controlled by the technology of the day.
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An iconic scene in the 1998 film “The Truman Show” depicts actor Jim Carrey painting on a bathroom mirror with a bar of soap. Carrey, who plays Truman, outlines an astronaut helmet around the reflection of his head, then winks at the mirror (which obscures a hidden camera) and says, “That one’s for free.”
The scene marks a turning point: Truman has realized that his world is not real. Instead, he is the unknowing star of a TV show streamed to viewers around the clock. Everything he does is captured on camera, and every person he interacts with — including his wife and best friend — are paid actors. Truman’s tiny hometown sits inside a dome controlled by TV producers.
Since the movie came out, it has lent its name to a real psychological condition: Those who believe their entire lives are being watched or filmed suffer from the “Truman Show delusion.”
“I’ve treated a number of young men who all believe their lives were reality television shows,” Joel Gold, a psychiatrist at the New York University School of Medicine, told Business Insider. Gold and his brother, Ian, coined the term the “Truman Show delusion” in 2008.
He said they’ve encountered this type of paranoia in hundreds of patients, many of whom reference the movie.
“They said to me, ‘Do you know that movie ‘The Truman Show?” and I said yes,” Gold recounted. “And they said, ‘That’s my life.'”
The Golds don’t think the film gave rise to a new type of delusion; rather, it’s a new iteration of a type of paranoid delusion that has plagued people for generations. Throughout history, some people have felt controlled by whatever the technology of the day happened to be.
“Back in the day, people felt they were being controlled by magnetic rays, mesmerism, microwaves, or influencing machines,” Gold said.
In the years after “The Truman Show” came out, he added, it was closed-circuit TV and cameras. Now, the delusion may be evolving again.
‘You’re an actor playing a psychiatrist’
In psychology, delusions are personal ideas or belief systems that people maintain with conviction in spite of evidence to the contrary. They are symptoms of mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Sometimes, patients’ delusions can improve or abate with psychotherapy or drugs, but delusions often tend to be chronic.
Gold said he first came across a patient with what he and his brother would later label the “Truman Show delusion” at Bellevue Hospital in New York City around …read more
Source:: Business Insider