Understanding Delusions of Grandeur
We all dream of having power and wealth. But people with delusions of grandeur suffer from a psychosis where they have strong dreams about having wealth, power and being almighty. They usually have an overblown image of themselves and have a penchant for excess and flamboyant actions. These people will still hold fast to their errant perceptions even in the face of truth, even when you prove to them that that they’re wrong. The expression “delusions of grandeur” is also often used when talking about a person who magnifies how great or important he or she is, but this undermines the seriousness of this psychosis.
How to Tell if Someone is Suffering from Delusions of Grandeur
A delusion of grandeur is a serious illness and a person suffering from it may be convinced that he or she is well-known or has unbelievable powers or abilities. There have been cases where people wholeheartedly believe they are renowned figures of society, even of history; one popular example is the mental patient who believes he’s Napoleon Bonaparte. Patients with this belief are in danger of hurting themselves physically and are surely suffering emotionally and mentally as well. For instance, someone who believes he has certain abilities might jump in front of a train or moving vehicle just to prove his invincibility.
What Causes it?
Medically speaking, delusions of grandeur can be an indication of several psychological problems. It’s also known as megalomania, a narcissistic disorder where someone’s feelings of importance and omnipotence is bordering on the delusional. This narcissism is found in mental patients suffering from dementia as well as depressive or psychotic afflictions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These delusions of grandeur sometimes manifest alongside other delusions. For instance, a patient might have feelings of persecution, where he believes other people are planning to hurt him. Or the patient might feel that another entity is controlling his actions and thoughts.
Drugs can also cause delusions of grandeur. Amphetamines and phencyclidine (PCP) are notorious for causing them and users high on these substances might think they can do things that ordinary people couldn’t, like being faster than a moving vehicle or being stronger than a group of Hell’s Angels. Suffice it to say, these can end in serious bodily harm or fatal injuries.
How is it Treated?
Unfortunately, there’s no one treatment specifically made for someone experiencing delusions of grandeur since it’s not a disease but a symptom of a more serious problem. When it comes to treating delusions brought about by a breakdown, a psychiatrist has to first diagnose the basic condition and the delusions will hopefully stop once the condition is treated. One common treatment used is talk therapy. The challenge is getting people suffering from this condition to agree to therapy since most believe they’re fine and don’t need help. If the delusion is caused by drug use, it often wears off once the substance is out of the person’s system.
Terms like “delusions of grandeur” and "anti-social” are acknowledged clinical terms. However, modern society bandies these terms around wrongly and people often use them in a non-clinical aspect. More often than not, these are descriptions given to celebrities, businessmen and politicians that people think are selfish and have an inflated ego. Thoughtlessly using these terms can hinder people from seeing that someone they know is really suffering from a psychosis that might end up as real threat to that person’s well-being or life.