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Illinois Man Suffers Truman Show Delusion

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Jun 7, 2012 10:00PM

An Illinois man believes HBO has been secretly filming his life, and he believes the town of Hillside, Ill., is nothing more than a movie-set populated by actors. Nicholas Marzano has filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming HBO has every one in on it, from police to family, and according to a recent psychiatric study, this "Truman Show delusion" is more common than you think. Buzzfeed writes:

He's suing HBO in federal court for, in his words, "filming and broadcasting a hidden camera reality show depicting the day-to-day activities of plaintiff" without his consent. His suit, filed in April, alleges that HBO has hidden cameras throughout his home, installed controlling devices in his car, enlisted the help of local police, and recruited actors to portray "attorneys, government and law enforcement officials, physicians, employers, prospective employers, family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers," all so that their show about his life can continue. Marzano also says HBO is keeping him from getting a job or paying his bills, so that he will be forced to remain on the show.

Psychiatrist brothers Joel and Ian Gold published a paper this week in the journal Cognitive Neuropsychiatry describing the "Truman Show delusion," in which sufferers believe they are "the 'star' of a reality television show secretly broadcasting their daily life, much like the main character in Peter Weir’s film The Truman Show." They said it first popped up after the film was released, and it has become increasingly common with the influx of reality shows, YouTube, etc.

To refresh your memory, The Truman Show is a 1998 film starring Jim Carrey, in which Truman leads a fake life, but doesn't know it. His home is a big studio with hidden cameras, and every one around him is an actor on the most popular television series in the world, but Truman doesn't know. Spoiler Alert: Truman figures things out, hijinks ensue, etc.

It's a decent film, but it's the sort of film people don't bother revisiting when it pops up. Its extreme topicality and slightly overburdened single metaphor have almost rendered watching it less appealing over time.