Joel Gold, a psychiatrist at the Bellevue Hospital Center, revealed that by 2008, he had met five patients with schizophrenia (and heard of another twelve) who believed their lives were reality television shows. Gold named the syndrome "The Truman Show delusion" after the film and attributed the delusion to a world that had become hungry for publicity. The syndrome predominantly affects young white men.
Gold stated that some patients were rendered happy by their disease, while "others were tormented". One traveled to New York to check whether the World Trade Center had actually fallen—believing the 9/11 attacks to be an elaborate plot twist in his personal storyline. Another came to climb the Statue of Liberty, believing that he would be reunited with his high-school girlfriend at the top and finally be released from the show.
In August 2008, the British Journal of Psychiatry reported similar cases in the United Kingdom. The delusion has informally been referred to as "Truman syndrome", according to an Associated Press story from 2008.
After hearing about the condition, writer of The Truman Show Andrew Niccol said: "You know you've made it when you have a disease named after you."