Thanks to that whole "mental" part, mental illnesses are often heavily influenced by the cultures and societies in which people live. Case in point: The way people with schizophrenia interpret their own hallucinations has changed over the course of the 20th century, keeping pace with changes in technology. Where people once believed that demons were speaking to them, they came to think of those voices as emanating from secret phonographs. Today, people with schizophrenia are likely to imagine hidden cameras taping them for a reality show. The paranoid delusions are always there, but the context changes.

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  1. Humbabella

    I remember reading and article in the New York Times a while back that I found through Boing Boing on the americanization of mental illness. The most interesting part of the article was a discussion of how mental illness symptoms are culturally dependent. Society provides us the menu of options for how to express our underlying mental defect or distress. Just because you have a mental illness doesn't mean you aren't affected by culture.

    What this article appears to be describing is that fact that it is increasingly plausible that you are being watched all the time. Emperor Nero, perhaps aprochryphally, believed that he was being watched through the eyes of the painting that hung in the hallways. These days, there are actually wireless cameras that could be hidden behind a painting to send the signal to be watched elsewhere. It is no wonder that when justifying themselves delusional people use the most reasonable explanation.

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