Psychosis in the 21st century looks something like this: You think your every move is being filmed for a reality television show starring you, and that everyone in your life is an actor.
If you have delusions of grandeur in this century, you are probably not Napoleon, but you may be Bill Gates.
The Truman Show delusion, or Truman Syndrome, has drawn attention in recent months, in the United States and Britain, as psychiatrists in both countries describe a small but growing number of psychotic patients who describe their lives as mirroring that of the main character in the 1998 film “The Truman Show…”
One way of looking at the delusions and hallucinations of the mentally ill is that they represent extreme cases of what the general population, or the merely neurotic, are worried about. Schizophrenics and other paranoid patients can take common fears — like identity theft because of information transmitted on the Internet, or the loss of privacy because of the prevalence of security cameras to fight crime — and magnify them, psychiatrists say…
One patient reported that he came to New York to see if the Twin Towers were still standing, because he believed that seeing their destruction on Sept. 11 on television was part of his reality show. If they were still standing, he said, then he would know that the terrorist attack was all part of the script.
Most of the spin from 9/11 makes about as much sense as any other mass hysteria. Only the United States ended up spending trillions of dollars and killing hundreds of thousands of people.
If only we could have gotten Bush & Co. into counseling. Or at least well-medicated.