Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Truman Show Delusion

Okay, so I'm not sure where to credit the idea for this post. I read about the Truman Show Delusion on The Last Psychiatrist blog, and it linked to a piece in the National Post.

The story starts by discussing a paper in process by two psychiatrists who are brothers-- that in itself is weird enough and maybe someday I'll know enough about it to blog about psychiatrist sibs (I only know of one family where this actually exists). The Gold shrink brothers are interested in a phenomena they've titled The Truman Show Delusion. It's when a patient believes he is a character in a reality TV show (when he isn't, obviously). From the National Post article:

While traditionalists insist that this delusion offers nothing new -- it is no different from, say, a deranged man who believes that the CIA has planted a microchip in his tooth -- the Gold brothers argue otherwise.

"It's really a question of the extent of the delusion," said Joel Gold, 39, who has been on staff at New York's Bellevue Hospital Center for eight years. "The delusions we typically treat are narrow: There is Capgras Delusion, where someone will think his family has been replaced by doubles. Or the Fregoli Delusion, where someone believes that one person is persecuting him: a doctor, mailman, butcher. The Truman Show Delusion, though, involves the entire world."

The Last Psychiatrist wants to discuss the delusion as a metaphor for maturity and fixation in adolescent developmental challenges. Okay.

I haven't examined the patients the Gold Shrink-bros write about, and I've never seen a patient with this particular delusional scheme, but in general, I've found that delusional schemes happen apart from personality characteristics and developmental fixations. In other words, I've seen patients with grandiose delusional schemes who aren't otherwise narcissistic in their overall approach to the world, and I know plenty of self-centered narcissistic folks who don't seem to have any type of delusional disorders. Oh, I'm rambling, I just thought the idea of a Truman Show Delusion was interesting.

And speaking of having one's life broadcast to the public eye: where oh where is Roy today?


Anonymous said...

Karl Menninger and William Menninger. That counts.

On TV--Frasier and his brother Niles. Probably doesn't count.

It isn't so weird. There are plenty of sibs who go share dental practices or other sorts of medical practices. There are sibs who go into teaching. There are sibs who go into the drug scene together and stay there.There are all sorts of families who form music groups and no, not the the Partridge Family ha.

shraddha said...

Hey I know of 2 pairs of Psychiatrist brothers!Infact I know one of these siblings very well, he is infact my husband's buddy!
Do you want to know their names?
I could email you!
I guess everyone knows they are brothers, so they will not mind.
Infact they even completed residency from same place.
Also one of the pair are identical twins!

shraddha said...


Anonymous said...

I find this interesting because when I was hospitalized I had a reality show delusion! I thought that the psych ward was filming us for a reality TV show without our permission and was led to that belief by the cameras that were everywhere on the ward, and by the fact that I was completely psychotic at the time. My concept was that we were on something like that boot camp for bad kids TV show. I even thought that they were airing episodes. I kept trying to warn the other patients about it and the staff kept sticking me in solitary confinement with no light, no bathroom, no food. When I got out of solitary 6-7 hours later I'd try to warn the other patients again about what was happening to us and they'd stick me in solitary again.

I don't think it was tied to ANYTHING in my development or past or had anything to do with anything. The way I personally experienced psychosis was similar to a nightmare or perhaps similar to a VERY BAD acid trip. It was COMPLETELY unrelated to my life and the way I am normally.

As a side note, that was not my only delusion while hospitalized and I'd switch from one "scene" to another the way a person might have several different dreams in a night. Mostly they were all bad dreams.

Anonymous said...

I experienced the Truman Show delusion 3 or 4 times, each time signalling the beginning of mania (I have bipolar). One day I would wame up with the strong and pressing feeling that I was being watched, even in the privacy of my house, I felt this omniscient presence watching my. Logically, the only reason I could realize for this feeling was that I was on T.V. and being watched by millions of people. As the mania intensified, I became a greater and greater figure (in an attempt to solve why I was the subject of the show in the first place). Eventually, I was the King of the World -- even later, I was God