Each person evaluates their abilities and character traits in order to form an image of themselves. But it is not always a reflection of the truth. If a person always overestimates their attractive features, skills, intelligence, or influence on others, this may indicate a mental disorder. In the material we tell why megalomania appears, what signs it has and how it can affect a person’s life.
What is megalomania
In psychology, megalomania is called megalomania or delusions of grandeur, and the term “megalomania” in science is considered incorrect. This state is a type of self-consciousness and behavior of the individual. It is characterized by an extreme overestimation of the significance of one’s own “I”, importance, popularity, wealth or other advantages.
People with delusions of grandeur often believe that they are much better than others, they have an overly high sense of self-worth. They think that they are endowed with more power and strength than those who are close to them, even if in fact this is not the case. In severe cases, megalomania can provoke a feeling of omnipotence and control over the whole world.
Why delusions of grandeur appear
Often megalomania is an integral part of narcissistic personality disorder, and not an independent disease. It can also occur against the background of other mental illnesses: schizophrenia, manic-depressive psychosis, paranoid disorder, as well as neuroses of various origins.
Megalomania in some cases appears as a protective mechanism of the psyche, if a person constantly feels inferior or unaccepted in society. Or subjected to humiliation or violence, both physical and moral.
It serves as a way to cope with inner emptiness, a sense of the wrongness of one’s personality, low self-esteem. But the problem with this defense mechanism is that over time, a person ceases to realize why he appeared and does not try to cope with the primary source of his problems. That is, he simply becomes convinced of his unsurpassed significance, value and importance.
Childhood traumas and peculiarities of upbringing can also cause the development of megalomania. According to psychologist Yulia Lugova, this often leads to excessive parental care in childhood. As well as the habit of parents to constantly admire the child and attribute to him positive qualities or successes that are not there or they are not truly outstanding and significant. Often the cause of megalomania in adulthood is an overestimated self-esteem, which can also be “comes from childhood.”
How megalomania develops
Megalomania in most cases develops gradually, passing through several stages.
At the first, a person tries to stand out from the background of others, to emphasize his significance and dignity. For example, he starts showing off at every opportunity, is overly active on social networks, goes to any event where he can make himself known and get a portion of approval. He actively compares himself with those around him, trying to find character traits or skills that will allow him to put himself on a pedestal. In others, he will look exclusively for shortcomings or mistakes that will make sure that they “do not live up” to his level.
It is noteworthy that in the absence of outstanding achievements or attractive features, a person can invent them. And sincerely believe in your imagination. And also start passing it off as the truth in conversations with other people.
The second stage of the development of megalomania is characterized by greater remoteness from reality. Fantasies capture the mind of a person and he literally begins to live by them. He constantly needs praise, recognition, admiration. If someone around him does not recognize his achievements or criticizes his behavior, a person with megalomania behaves aggressively. Or he completely refuses to communicate with those who could doubt his significance and superiority.
The third and most serious stage of the development of the disease is characterized by complete remoteness from the real state of affairs. Because of loneliness, feeling that a person is not accepted and not understood, as well as frustration, he may begin to show suicidal tendencies or try to deliberately harm other people. Often, megalomaniacs use illegal drugs at this stage of the disease, and also overdo it with alcohol to cope with negative emotions.
What behavior patterns are typical for people with delusions of grandeur
A person with megalomania may show signs of this condition while selflessly trying to achieve his goals and gain power. But in other cases, exaggeration of one’s own importance can occur imperceptibly to others. Consider behavior patterns that can betray a person with megalomania.
Tendency to be judgmental
A person with megalomania believes that the people around him are less important than himself. They are not good enough in all aspects of life: appearance, beliefs, actions, habits. Therefore, he often condemns those who are nearby or are looking for a reason for this.
At the same time, a person may not be at all embarrassed to point out the shortcomings of the interlocutors or comment negatively on their actions in order to put himself in the best light. He does this either consciously or unconsciously, depending on the degree of development of megalomania or the goal he is pursuing.
Inability to admit one’s mistakes
Anyone who considers himself the most right, influential and smart is unlikely to admit that he can be wrong. People with delusions of grandeur are more likely to blame others or circumstances for their mistakes, but will not take responsibility for them.
For them, admitting they are wrong means doubting their own perfection and superiority, and this brings considerable discomfort. Therefore, it is unlikely that you can hear a sincere “sorry” from people with megalomania.
From outright aggression to fun, megalomaniacs often exhibit emotional instability. In this case, the mood can change very quickly. For example, joy turns into anxiety or excitement in a few moments, and depression turns into inspiration.
Note that it is very difficult to control mood swings in megalomania. They can be influenced by both thoughts and external factors, even insignificant ones. Especially if they make you doubt the exclusivity and greatness of your own “I”.
Significant selectivity in communication
Megalomaniacs are more likely to avoid those who are able to undermine their self-image. For example, people who are more successful in similar activities. Or those who do not hesitate to present constructive criticism and point out shortcomings.
But those who have a lower intellectual level, a person with megalomania, most likely, will give preference. It is easier for such people to impose their ideas, views and rules. And they are easy to manipulate and quickly take a leadership position. Megalomanians believe that when dealing with those who are less intelligent, there is no possibility of being rejected or a loser when competition arises.
Unfortunately, the desire to show one’s importance and the conviction that a person is omnipotent can in some cases lead to the creation of sects and other dubious groups in which he will feel himself the center of the universe and the one to whom those around him unconditionally obey. Cult leaders tend to be people with narcissistic personality disorder and megalomania.
Low level of empathy
For a person with megalomania, showing empathy can be a difficult task. He cares little about the emotions and feelings of others, as he is completely focused on his own. It often happens that a request for help and support from a megalomaniac ends up with him moving away and disappearing, as he is not able to think and try for someone other than himself.
predisposition to insomnia
Sleep disturbances often appear with mental disorders. And megalomania, as a component of mental illness, also goes hand in hand with them. Particularly with insomnia. It appears due to the fact that megalomaniacs are overly active both physically and mentally. Their nervous system is in constant tension, which prevents healthy sleep.
Episodes of increased activity
When megalomania appears on the background of bipolar disorder, the person experiences episodes of increased activity. He becomes energetic, overly talkative, self-confident, purposeful and ready to perform any feats, as if he does not feel tired.
The problem is that such activity will not last long and all big things and undertakings may remain unfinished. Or bring a lot of frustration, as they will have to be carried out through force.
Feelings of envy and ambivalence towards him
A megalomaniac may know deep down that he is not perfect. And that in life there are those who cope better with similar tasks or show better qualities in comparison with him. But such an understanding disgusts the megalomaniac – because of this, he becomes full of envy of others. It manifests itself in aggression, condemnation, increased competition.
But his relationship with this feeling is ambiguous. Envy can bring him both negative feelings when he experiences it himself, and positive ones, in cases where a person notices that someone is jealous of him. This feeds his ego and reinforces the belief that he is the best.
How megalomania affects life
It is difficult to communicate with a person who has megalomania. Often this becomes the reason why megalomaniacs have practically no real friends and good friends. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and discomfort.
This condition also has a negative impact on romantic relationships. According to the American psychiatrist Laurent Schmitt, a partner’s heightened ego prevents healthy dialogue. It is impossible to convey his point of view to him, he is unable to respond in a healthy way to the feelings and experiences of the one who is nearby. This leads to the fact that the partner of the megalomaniac constantly experiences negative emotions. As a result, quarrels and conflicts arise, which, unfortunately, do not contribute to significant changes. And eventually the relationship ends.
But this does not mean that a person with megalomania is not at all capable of creating a long-term alliance. Relationships built on a kind of imbalance between partners can last quite a long time. For example, when there is a person next to a megalomaniac who prefers to stay away and be his kind of shadow. Or has a masochistic personality disorder, that is, finds rapture in suffering. He needs to have someone close by who is able to provide them, and a partner with megalomania is perfect for this role. Often he will devalue, convict of being wrong, not paying attention or hurting self-respect, which is necessary for someone who is used to living in negative emotions and self-abasement.
Unfortunately, if left untreated, megalomania completely changes the way a person thinks. And often this pathological condition ends in deep depression with all its problems and consequences. In addition, megalomania interferes with making sound decisions, which directly affects a person’s everyday life.
How to get rid of delusions of grandeur
The biggest difficulty in the treatment of megalomania is that its owner does not understand that something is wrong with him. And also makes considerable efforts to prove that his view of himself and the world is completely adequate and truthful.
We would like to note that any type of therapy for megalomania begins with the identification of its causes. For example, it is impossible to deal with megalomania on the background of narcissistic disorder or schizophrenia without working directly with them.
There are methods that can mitigate the intensity of delusional thoughts. They are divided into psychological and pharmacological. The first includes cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps to correct inappropriate beliefs of a person. In pharmacological treatment, antipsychotics, lithium preparations, tranquilizers or sedatives are most often prescribed.