Schizophrenics used to see demons and spirits. Now they talk about actors and hidden cameras – and make a lot of sense
By Mike Jay
Here is an excerpt:
The Gold brothers’ interpretation of the Truman Show delusion runs along similar lines. It might appear to be a new phenomenon that has emerged in response to our hypermodern media culture, but is in fact a familiar condition given a modern makeover. They make a primary distinction between the content of delusions, which is spectacularly varied and imaginative, and the basic forms of delusion, which they characterise as ‘both universal and rather small in number’.
Persecutory delusions, for example, can be found throughout history and across cultures; but within this category a desert nomad is more likely to believe that he is being buried alive in sand by a djinn, and an urban American that he has been implanted with a microchip and is being monitored by the CIA. ‘For an illness that is often characterised as a break with reality,’ they observe, ‘psychosis keeps remarkably up to date.’ Rather than being estranged from the culture around them, psychotic subjects can be seen as consumed by it: unable to establish the boundaries of the self, they are at the mercy of their often heightened sensitivity to social threats.
The entire article is here.