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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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Is there a more formal definition to the' Mitty Syndrome',

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is there a more formal definition to the 'Walter Mitty Syndrome', as I have tried surfing for it under that nomenclature, and have had very little success. I am dealing with an individual who is utterly convinced he is a Vietnam Vet; to the point of having read exhaustively enough to be able to hold his own with any real vet; and wearing military memorabilia, truck insignias, etc. The alternate persona is so real, it has completely overshadowed the person I factually know him to be; as he is a family member, and we grew up with him. Can I get a clinical name for this, so I can try approaching the subject with him and other family members regarding getting help?
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

There is an old DSM-II personality disorder called "Inadequate Personality", in which a person with perfectly normal intelligence doesn't seem capable to "fit in" well with traditional job roles, is generally ineffective, despite possessing skills and normal intelligence etc. Al***** ***** one of Freud's contemporaries, would have appreciated the fact that such individuals grossly overcompensate for their failures and deficiencies in life by doing such things as focusing on certain skills to the exclusion of others, adopting grandiose fantasies about themselves and portraying them to the world, etc. The term inadequate personality has more or less died with the advent of DSM-III and IV. Personality disorders are such a mess in terms of diagnostic classification that DSM-V will do something quite different it is hoped e.g., describe various behavior patterns and emphasize "social adaptations" people make to be able to better form and maintain relationships. Anyway, Walter Mitty would have fit the old DSM-II notion of Inadequate Personality Disorder and the notion of gross overcompensation due to severe feelings of inferiority----a la Al***** *****. You can Google Overcompensation Adler and read more about this psychological defense mechanism.

Another disorder that is fitting for the type of individual you describe is something called Delusional Disorder. This is a nonpsychotic disorder in which the person functions quite well in many domains of life but aggressively and strenuously embraces certain delusional beliefs that cannot be true or accurate. It tends to be fairly chronic in adulthood and the delusions seem to be "woven" into the person's sense of their personality and their core beliefs about how the world operates. The person is utterly unfazed by challenges to their delusional beliefs and defend them vigorously, if pressed. You can read more about this disorder by Googling: DSM Delusional Disorder.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Let me know if I have failed to answer your question adequately.
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