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The Truman Show Delusion: Real or Imagined?

A few delusional people are convinced they are stars of an imaginary reality show, but doctors disagree on whether it's only an act.

Is Pop Culture to Blame? continued...

Both doctors deny seeking “fame or glory” and say they are a bit overwhelmed by the media attention. They have been inundated with “wonderful and unexpected” emails and calls from clinicians, patients, and colleagues who are willing to share their stories. They now have worked on about 20 cases.

“The upside of publicity is the chance to study this properly and learn something about it,” Ian Gold says. His brother adds, “The Truman Show delusion asks more questions than it answers.”

The Golds are working on a medical paper that will provide a series of illustrative cases. “Given the recent feedback about our work, Truman Show delusion may be more widespread than we know,” Joel Gold says.

Ian Gold adds, “Reality TV doesn’t cause delusion, but is there something about reality TV that is particularly appropriate for expressing delusion once it has developed? We don’t know yet, but it’s fascinating to explore. There’s something about fame that people respond to. My hypothesis is that delusions have to do with our relationships with other people and the new media creates a larger community with more threats and opportunities.”

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Reviewed on August 06, 2008

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