Thursday, 27 November 2008

More on The Truman Syndrome...

'Psychiatric experts say they have identified a new 21st century form of delusion whose sufferers are convinced their lives are being played out as a reality television show.

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, say researchers.

Joel and Ian Gold, a New York psychiatrist and Montreal academic, say they have been inundated with cases since they first expounded what they have dubbed the "Truman Syndrome" two years ago.

... The condition might seem comical - one man went to a US government building and announced he wanted his show to end - but it tended to be "absolutely debilitating" as sufferers believed they could trust no-one, said Dr Joel Gold, head of psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital in New York.

... The existence of a specific Truman Syndrome has divided experts, with critics pointing out that delusional patients have long believed that friends or relatives have been replaced by imposters.

However, the Gold brothers counter that the Truman Syndrome is different because of the "sweeping" scope of the delusion, taking in society at large.

"We're not claiming it's a new form of mental illness and we're not suggesting these people would be well if there was no YouTube," said Dr Gold.

"But we've passed a watershed moment with respect to the internet, in which you can do something very silly and without skill, and yet become famous instantly. That can be very exciting for many people but for those who are at risk of this kind of paranoia, it can be very stressful."

Critics who dismissed sufferers as narcissists were missing the point, he said. "These are not people who want to be famous. Quite the contrary, they want to be left alone."

He said they so far had evidence of between 50 and 75 cases, many provided by other psychiatrists.

Ian Gold, a professor at McGill University in Montreal, said that the ability of reality shows and the internet to transform strangers into intimates may compound psychological pressure on people who have underlying problems dealing with others.

... Other academics have suggested that culture and technology can influence delusions. A study in Austria identified a woman who believed she had become a walking webcam.

Her psychiatrists concluded that reality television may help such patients convince themselves that their experiences are plausible.'

More: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3521574/Truman-Show-Syndrome-delusion-Sufferers-convinced-they-are-on-reality-TV.html

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