Walter Mitty syndrome

Walter Mitty syndrome2016-12-07T01:42:05+00:00

Walter Mitty syndrome

Walter Mitty image from New Medical Terms

Walter Mitty


Walter Mitty syndrome is a condition of unknown frequency or magnitude in which a person indulgences himself in daydreams that he–or to be fair, she–has a heroic persona that he or she lacks in real life.

Comment The syndrome obtains its name from James Thurber’s short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, first published in The New Yorker (1939), about a milquetoast of a man who is browbeaten into quiet submission by an overbearing wife. Walter imagines in succession that he is a pilot of a Navy flying boat in a storm; a surgeon performing a one-of-a-kind procedure; a deadly assassin, and a Royal Air Force pilot volunteering for a suicide mission to bomb an ammunition dump. At the story’s end, Mitty imagines himself facing a firing squad, to quote Thurber, …inscrutable to the last. Walter Mitty syndrome is a commonly used vehicle in fiction. Hollywood took a crack at it in 1949 with Danny Kaye (see movie poster) and in 2013 with Ben Stiller. 


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