The new neurosis of 2015 in New York City

Caro Dr Bruce,

I am Dott. Bruno R., a psychologist living and working in Rome.  I am already a great fan of the magazine, and of your column in particular, as I too, specialize in resolving conflicts about identities and the multiplicity of selves. I wondered if you could enlighten us as to the most prevalent form of neurosis in New York in 2015, in order to contrast it with our experience here in Italy.

Grazie Mille,

Dott. Bruno


Dr. Bruce M. TouchmanDear Dr. Bruno,

Thank you for your enthusiastic letter and interesting question. I fear my answer may surprise you, as the most prevalent form of neurosis in New York is neither anxiety nor depression. No, not OCD or ADD, not substance abuse or sex addiction. I have found, instead, this year that the most prevalent form of neurosis at this time, is the recurring, obsessive thought that one is entitled to a reality TV show, and the corresponding compulsion to act on that wish.  Approximately 75 per cent of my patients are currently appearing on, pitching to the networks, or fantasizing obsessively about having a reality show made about their lives.  Apparently, all of them are convinced that America, if not the world, eagerly awaits another episode of cameras following them religiously, as they go about their mundane, quotidian, if not to say banal lives. In my humble opinion, this bizarre idea springs from the experience of growing up under the microscopic lens of the morbid fascination of their parents, who overvalued every thought, feeling and action they took as children. It is no longer enough for them to enjoy the neutral attention of a kind, impartial psychoanalyst such as myself. It is humiliating for them to have to pay for my benevolent gaze. On the contrary, they generally feel entitled to be paid millions of dollars to reveal their secret, shameful innermost musings and emotions. What they truly need is a camera and an audience!  I would be curious to know if this psychological virus has spread to Italy yet.  

I could go on at great length about this neurosis, but I have to run.  I am late for a meeting with the producers of my new reality show on the Bravo network. Coincidentally, it is called “Ask Dr. Bruce”!

A presto!

Dr Bruce

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