Arnon Grunberg

Real world


A friend alerted me to this article in today’s Times: 'Adam Lepak looked over at his mother and said, “You’re fake.” It was a Tuesday in July, late, and Cindy Lepak could see that her 19-year-old son was exhausted. Long days like this one, with hours of physical therapy and memory drills — I had a motorcycle accident, I hit my head and have trouble remembering new things, I had a motorcycle accident — often left him making these accusations.
“What do you mean ‘fake,’ Adam?” she said.
He hung his head. “You’re not my real mom,” he said. His voice changed. “I feel sorry for you, Cindy Lepak. You live in this world. You don’t live in the real world.” Doctors have known for nearly 100 years that a small number of psychiatric patients become profoundly suspicious of their closest relationships, often cutting themselves off from those who love them and care for them. They may insist that their spouse is an impostor; that their grown children are body doubles; that a caregiver, a close friend, even their entire family is fake, a duplicate version.'

To believe that your mother is an impostor is one thing. But what if you believe that you yourself are the impostor?