By C. Michael Forsyth
NEW YORK — Psychiatrists have identified a bizarre mental disorder that causes people to believe they’re NOT being watched and monitored by the government.
Victims of the syndrome – known as Surveillance Denial Disorder– suffer from the delusion that their emails, Internet searches, texts and phone calls are completely private. And they refuse to acknowledge the hundreds of pubic cameras capturing their every move.
“This goes far beyond normal naivety,” explains Dr. Byron Virolosky, a leading psychiatrist. “It is as if these individuals believe they are invisible to the government. When confronted with concrete evidence that someone is always watching them, they will make irrational statements such as ‘That’s ridiculous, we live in America’ or “This is a free country.’”
Roger H., 45, a fiction writer, first began exhibiting symptoms of the peculiar condition in February 2015.
“The patient’s wife reports that one morning he did a Google search for ‘cross-country skiing,’ and an hour later, noticed that ads for cross-country skis started popping up on his Facebook page. He told her, ‘Wasn’t that an odd coincidence?’ At first she thought he was joking, but he wasn’t.”
Over the succeeding months, the father of two showed increasingly disturbing signs that he couldn’t perceive even the most blatant signs of corporate and government spying.
The straw that broke the camel’s came last August, when the author was researching a spy novel — and conducted an Internet search with the keywords “How Build Dirty Bomb.” His wife asked him if he wasn’t worried that the peculiar search might cause government agents to suspect he was a terrorist.
“Roger looked at her with a puzzled expression, and asked, ‘How would anyone know?’” revealed the expert.
That’s when Roger’s wife knew she had to get him the professional help he so desperately needed.
“She realized his behavior was putting himself and the family at risk,” the psychiatric noted. “What if the search had triggered an armed Homeland Security raid on the house?”
Fortunately the mental illness responds to a cocktail of psychiatric drugs, combined with weekly therapy sessions.
“Roger is thinking much more clearly now, he’s returned to reality,” the shrink said.
Exoerts say the condition is similar to pronoia, or reverse-paranoia, in which patients believe everyone in the world is conspiring to make their lives better.
“In both cases, people see the world through rose-colored glasses,” Dr. Virolosky said.
If you found this article by fiction writer C. Michael Forsyth entertaining, you might enjoy one of his novels, such as The Identity Thief.