You know how I like to pick apart professionals who make all sorts of logical fallacies when suggesting new diagnoses off the cuff because they’ve personally seen a rise of such cases. Sorry, it’s my failing, and I’m working on it. But in the meantime…

It’s funny, but once you start thinking you’re an expert on a new disorder (that you either created from your imagination — or your patients’ imaginations, or helped to do so), suddenly people start flocking to you for help. I call it the “moth to the light” phenomenon. Then you think it’s a “real” diagnosis, because suddenly of all the people who come to see you. Can you say “self-fulfilling prophecy?”

Meet Joel and Ian Gold — brothers and psychiatrists — who believe in something they call the Truman Show Delusion:

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. […]

He also says that The Truman Show had an impact on patients that other films did not, no matter how powerful they were. “I never heard people say, ‘ The Godfather, that’s my life.’ ”

Sure. And if we start diagnosing people based upon how much they identify with a particular movie, wow, we’ll have tens of thousands of new diagnoses tomorrow! In fact, I see so many teenage and young adult men who think they’re Batman and really identify with that character, I’m officially coining the “Batman Delusion.” (You heard it here first.)

I mean, who cares — from a diagnostic standpoint — what the delusion is? The specific delusion helps inform psychotherapy treatment, but it doesn’t tell a professional, “Oh, he thinks he’s the King of the World, that means 20 mg of Prozac.” And in terms of psychotherapy techniques or specific treatments for a particular delusion, well, our level of science and data isn’t anywhere near that level.

So while intellectually, this may be a fun and interesting exercise to suggest the Truman Show Delusion is something new and diagnosable, it’s really nothing more — in my mind — than professional grandstanding.

Excuse me, but there’s a couple of emails from people now in my inbox wanting to get treatment for my new Batman Delusion. I have some replies to get working on.

Read the full article over at the National Post: Reality bites: Patients believe their lives are on TV: MDs



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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Jul 2008
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2008). DSM-VI: Reality TV Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from


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