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The emotional attachment to an illusion removes reality from being a priority

I remember that time when, still in my first grades of elementary school, I liked to watch a wrestling program once a week on a small black-and-white television set. But one day I stopped watching that show when, to the horror of my childhood mind, one of the fighters was injured and blood covered his face (even though I saw it only in black and white).

My emotional reaction to the blood running down the face of the masked fighter was so immediate that I remember turning off the television (the only one in the whole house) and running to my room, alarmed and disgusted by the show. In my recollection, my family got upset with me.

Then, many years later, when one of those masked fighters of my childhood retired, they interviewed him for one of the local newspapers and in that interview he revealed that the fight that had left him bloodied years earlier was, like all the other fights of his career, only a performance in which there was never real blood. Everything had been an illusion.

I felt disgusted, but this time disgusted with myself, because I had to acknowledge that my feelings and my understanding of reality had been intelligently manipulated by actors. My only defense was to remember that, at the time of the incident, I was a small child unable to fully distinguish between reality and illusion.

That incident, which for years remained forgotten in some dusty corner of my memory, unexpectedly returned to my mind when I read a few days ago a report indicating that, in the United States, between 10 million and 40 million people, according to different statistics, would not go to work to be able to see or after having seen the end of a well-known series of fiction.

Millions and millions of workers -not 6-year-old- will not go to work because they want to know who gets sit on certain imaginary throne. Suddenly, that’s more important that their obligations and responsibilities of daily life. And thee priority thus assigned to fantasy is based on emotional attachment to fictional characters.

I remember reading how, after the final episode of the series Friends in May 2004, for several weeks mental health and psychological counseling services in Florida and other states were overwhelmed by calls or visits from people who reacted to the end of Friends with the same symptomatology they would have reacted if a real person close to them would have died.

Similar situations were experienced after the cancellation or the end of other series and even after the "death" of fictional characters, which many viewers erroneously believed that corresponded to the actual death of the actor or actress representing that character.

In short, the well-know parasocial relationships (psychologically active relationships between a real person and a fictional character) are, paradoxically, very real. In fact, they are so real that they overcome reality and, therefore, they become reality. The masked ones continue to deceive us with their performances.

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