As I've discussed before, I suffer from social anxiety and, at those times when it is more pronounced, I have a strong tendency to close myself off from the outside world. One of the advantages of befriending Paul (the owner of our local mini mart) is that I often interact with his employees and this limited amount of social interaction helps me to refrain from being totally isolated.
One of his newer employees is a young woman who, it turns out, I share a lot in common with. She goes to the same mental health center I go to and a lot of the issues she works on with her counselor aren't that different from mine. The other night she shared with me one part of her condition that I had never heard of: She suffers from The Truman Show delusion.
The Truman Show delusion is a type of persecutory/grandiose delusion in which patients believe their lives are staged plays or reality television shows. The term was coined in 2008 by brothers Joel and Ian Gold, a psychiatrist and a neurophilosopher, respectively, after the 1998 film The Truman Show. It is not officially recognized and is not separately listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, but could be classified as a "Delusional Disorder, Persecutory Type". Truman Syndrome may be a related condition.I certainly can identify with the feeling of being watched! Though I certainly don't view my life as staged, there are times I tend to get really paranoid in that I think everybody is watching me and it is during these times that I pull away from the world even more than usual.
For those of you who have never suffered from psychotic delusions, I realize this sounds very queer. In many ways, it might seem that a person who thinks their life is a reality show must really be stuck on themselves. In some cases, this might well be true, but this particular young woman definitely is not one of them! She struggles with self-esteem and self-confidence issues. So, for her, she has this unstated feeling that she is the star of a show that she doesn't want to be in!
But here's the kicker. She rationally realizes that she is not being filmed 24/7. She knows that no one truly is watching her, but this doesn't change the feeling that it indeed is true. This has led me to suspect that I may have met a kindred spirit; someone else who suffers from Schizotypal Personality Disorder.
It is not so dissimilar from my situation of experiencing visible and auditory hallucinations, but being able to discern that these hallucinations are just that.