PAOLO FUSAR-POLI SHEDS LIGHT ON TRUMAN SYNDROME’S ASSOCIATION WITH PSYCHOSIS

In the year 1998, a film named the Truman Show hit the box office screens. The film was about a man, Truman, played by Jim Carrey. Truman believes that his whole life is a TV show that is being streamed to viewers from all around the globe. He thinks that he is on the camera all around the clock, and his family and friends are all paid actors. For Truman, the life he was living was not real, but part of a TV show, and he was its unknowing actor. The film opened a whole new dimension in the world of psychology as, after 1998, patients with a similar psychological disorder began to emerge. Comes out, the psychological condition showed in the film is a real-life psychological condition, which the world now refers to as the “Truman Show Delusion” or “Truman Syndrome.” The name for this condition was first coined by a psychiatrist at the New York University School of Medicine, Joel Gold, and his brother, Ian, in the year 2008.

After the release of the movie, psychiatrists have had to deal with hundreds of patients who are lost in this type of paranoia. Most of these patients refer to this movie when they try to describe their life. The psychological condition was not new and had been affecting people for generations. The movie, however, helped people understand that it was a psychological disorder that needed to be treated. It is an evolving psychological condition. Before the movie was released, victims of Truman Syndrome felt they were under the control of mesmerism, magnetic control, or influencing machines. The generation of these victims after the movie believed they were trapped within a network of TV and cameras. The paranoia is said to be evolving with technology.

Many people, to date, believe Truman Syndrome to be just a made-up concept for the movie. It is important to spread awareness about it. It is of utmost importance to tell people that Truman Syndrom is actually a psychological condition that has the potential to turn into psychosis. An Italian psychiatrist, Dr. Paolo Fusar-Poli, is playing a major role in the spreading of awareness of this concept. He is one of the most cited researchers in psychiatry. Most of his research is based on early detection, prediction of the outcomes, and prevention of severe mental disorders, including schizophrenia and psychosis.

Understanding Truman and Its Vulnerability to Psychosis

After graduating as a Psychiatrist in the year 2002 to date, Paolo has been deeply involved in research over severe mental disorders, including bipolar disorder, severe, major depression, and schizophrenia. With more than 330 publications, he has made a significant contribution to psychiatry and is helping experts devise strategies that allow early detection of mental disorders. When it comes to treating these disorders, the earlier a diagnosis is made, the better it is for the patient. For his groundbreaking research and invaluable publications, Dr. Paolo was awarded the Rising Star Award by the Schizophrenia International Research Society.

Some of his most notable publications include; “Neuroanatomy of vulnerability to psychosis: A voxel-based meta-analysis,” “Distinct Effects of Delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol on Neural Activation During Emotional Processing,” “Neuroimaging predictors of transition to psychosis A systematic review and meta-analysis,” “Cannabis and anxiety: a critical review of the evidence,” and “’Truman’ signs and vulnerability to psychosis.”

His collaborative publication over Truman Syndrome was reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry. His research partners for this project were Oliver D. Howes, Lucia Valmaggia, and Philip McGuire from the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

In his research article, Paolo describes the Truman Syndrome as, “a preoccupying belief that the world had changed in some way that other people were aware of, which he  interpreted as indicating he was the subject of a film and living in a film set (a ‘fabricated world’).” The case study talks about a 26-year-old postman, Mr. M.A, who felt there was something subtle going around him that everyone knew except him. He felt like there was a secret the world was keeping from him, and he was the center of their attention. Even though he sensed his life was unreal, and he was the “eponymous hero in the film The Truman Show,” there were signs of hallucination. His condition did not reach a delusional intensity. There were no signs of psychosis. However, his symptoms were aligning with the criteria of “at-risk mental state.” It is a state that is associated with the development of psychosis within 12 months. After nine months, Mr. M.A’s condition became more pronounced, and he was unable to return to work.

According to Paolo’s research, the symptoms of Truman Syndrome are close to features of aberrant sallies. It is a condition that leads to the formation of delusions. The article highlighted the three features; “First, there is the sense that the ordinary is changed or different, and that there is particular significance in this. This is coupled with a searching for meaning, which, in this case, results in the ‘Truman explanation.’ The third feature is a profound alteration of subjective experience and self-awareness, resulting in an unstable first-person perspective with varieties of depersonalization and derealisation, disturbed sense of ownership, the fluidity of the basic sense of identity, distortions of the stream of consciousness and experiences of disembodiment.”

The research paper laid the grounds and opened the doors towards an understanding that Truman Syndrome can lead a person towards psychosis. Even though much work has to be done on this concept, but his work proved to be groundbreaking for many research projects revolving around Truman’s vulnerability to develop psychosis.

A Strong Entity in the World of Psychiatry

Dr. Paolo is an Italian medical doctor, psychiatrist, and clinical academics professional, who was born on 27th July 1977 in Cremona, Italy. After graduating as a medical doctor from the University of Pavia in 2002, he stepped into psychiatry. He graduated as a Psychiatrist from the same university in 2006 and enrolled himself in the university’s P.D program, which he completed in 2009. Dr. Paolo now serves as the Associate Professor at the University of Pavia. He worked as a consultant psychiatrist in Italy as well as in the UK. He has been working as a consultant psychiatrist at has also worked with the Outreach Support at South London (OASIS) at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust to date.

Due to his invaluable contributions, Paolo was awarded a tenured position at King’s College London (KCL) in 2012. In the same year, he was granted the Specialist Associateship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. In addition to this, Paolo is the Reader of Psychiatry and Youth Mental Health at KCL and serves as the Academic Lead of the Early Psychosis Workstream of the National Institute for Health Research for the Mental Health Translational Research Collaborative. Moreover, the psychiatrist is affiliated with the Schizophrenia Bulletin as a Review Editor and as a Section Editor for the Journal of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Brain Research.

Paolo’s contributions to the research of Truman Syndrome are noteworthy. Moreover, he is helping his fellow psychiatrists get ahead with their strategies to diagnose mental disorders at an early age. From 2015 to 2019, he was one of the most highly cited researchers and has been ranked in the top 0.0046% of 43,252 published authors worldwide since 2010.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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