Doctor Ximena Gallardo
ENA 099 0708
SUFFERING FROM A NEW MODERN DISEASE OR JUST TRYING TO BE PART OF THE MEDIA-CIRCUS?
In "Life imitates art as Truman Syndrome diagnosed" by The Associated Press, we are presented with various cases of “The Truman Syndrome”, a modern disorder that some scientists, researchers and health specialists seem to find as an interesting illustration of the relationship between mental wellness and popular culture. The situations described in the article are cases of people apparently suffering this syndrome and have one thing in common, they are all related to either technology or to popular culture events like the movies The Matrix and The Truman Show. Patients allegedly suffering from “The Truman Syndrome” believe that their lives are part of a show, and that they are the main characters.
There are two ideas that I personally found interesting in the reading. One is, are these people really affected by these movies or they just want to catch people’s attention??. And the second is how can experts try to scientifically explain the behavior of patients who suffer the “Truman Syndrome" even though they, or us humankind don't have a completely 100% accurate concept of what reality is?.
For the first idea, it would be key to understand what Dr. Joel Gold questions in the article: "Is this just a new twist on an old paranoid or grandiose delusion... Or is there sort of a perfect storm of the culture we're in, in which fame holds such a high value?” I believe he is right when he says that in the culture we are living, it has become so important to be famous.
In today’s superficial world, the media is trying to sell us the idea that famous people are so cool and that we should try to be like them. They are trying to send the message that in order to be completely successful we should be famous, and for this we need to gain recognition for something, anything, no matter how random or stupid it is.
This could probably be the case of some of the patients described in the article, for example the man who showed up in a federal building asking to be released from a reality show, I think it is possible that he did this with the purpose of calling people’s attention, in other words, to have his fifteen minutes of fame. This reminds me of last year’s incident about a helium balloon who supposedly had a little boy in the inside and was flying out of control all over Colorado. The event quickly attracted worldwide attention, but resulted to be only a premeditated plan to catch the media’s attention. Another example that comes to mind right now is the case of a runaway bride back in 2005, she intentionally disappeared in order to avoid her wedding and invented that she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted, the story also gained notoriety in the whole nation and even internationally. After a long period of search, authorities finally found her and discovered that she was safe and hiding the whole time, later it was known that she had sold the rights of her story to an editorial company for millions of dollars.
The examples above show how some people are willing to do whatever it takes in order to call the media’s attention, and I believe the patients DIAGNOSED with the so called “Truman Syndrome” might just be regular people trying to do the same thing, maybe what’s behind of their “illness” is just an intention to make it to the front page of the newspapers. However, and this is the second thing I found interesting, there might also be some cases in which the patients are truly disturbed, in a state of mental disorder and suffering from DELUSIONS . All this conditions make them be convinced that what they are living is some kind of parallel reality. In this particular cases I would understand and to a certain point even identify with them, given that I am not even sure of what reality is, maybe it is nothing but a collective fantasy that we have all agreed to call "reality". But that would be a philosophical approach to the article, a topic for a whole new essay.