Psyche and The Truman Show

Travis Weedon
8 min readApr 27, 2017


Truman Burbank, played by nineties’ film darling Jim Carrey, was the first-ever child “legally adopted by a corporation.” His birth, his first words, his first steps, the time he lost his first tooth, all happened in front of a viewing audience of millions. His life has been captured by thousands of hidden cameras, distributed throughout the town of Seahaven, where Truman grew up.

Truman doesn’t know about the cameras, nor does he know that Seahaven is actually a large television production set, nor does he know that all the people around him are co-stars and extras in “The Truman Show,” of which Truman Burbank himself is the unwitting star.

The Truman Show film (1998), directed by Peter Weir, follows Truman’s journey from ignorance to knowledge. This journey requires Truman’s realization that the world he has known has been oddly confining and limiting, as if tightly staged around him. At thirty years old, he must realize that he is literally a prisoner on a massive television set.

In this surreal scenario, we actually have an allegory for a very real and familiar experience: the journey towards self-knowledge. Truman’s story follows the archetypal pattern of one’s movement from limited ego-consciousness to a greater understanding of the whole Self. Truman must break out of the world collectively constructed around him, including preconceived notions for how he should and should not be living, in order to realize his own unique human potential. His journey is that of individuation. The same journey that our psyches ask of us all.

The Longing for Wholeness

Regularity and security are the hallmarks of Truman’s life. White picket fence, routine run-ins with neighbors and co-workers, a nine-to-five selling life insurance. Truman makes a career out of feeding people’s anxieties over the unexpected, and his life has absolutely none of it.

But two things beckon him out of his bubble of security: a girl and an island. During his student days, Truman meets a fellow co-ed (Natascha McElhone). Her cast name is Lauren, but we learn her real name is Sylvia. She’s quick to divulge…