Delusions of grandeur: symptoms and signs in men and women. How to deal with a person who has delusions of grandeur?

Megalomania is a type of behavior or self-awareness of an individual, expressed in an extreme degree of overestimation of one's fame, importance, popularity, genius, political influence, wealth, power, even omnipotence. Megalomania synonyms - delusions of grandeur and megalomania, translated from Greek μεγαλο means exaggerated or very large, and μανία - madness, passion.

In everyday life, non-professional people often mistakenly use the term “delusions of grandeur”, and understand by it an elevated, inadequate mood, marked by increased motor activity, accelerated speech and thinking. This is how mania is viewed in psychiatry.

In modern psychiatry, megalomania is not classified as a separate mental disorder, but is considered as a manifestation of one of the mental disorders. For example, as a component of a manic syndrome or a symptom complex of paranoia, in which delusional ideas are possible when mania reaches a severe degree with psychotic symptoms.

What is megalomania? This condition in psychiatry is considered not as an independent disease, but as a symptom of another pathological condition that is associated with a mental disorder.

Delusions of grandeur often appear with manic-depressive psychosis, paranoid disorders and an inferiority complex. Signs of megalomania are manifested in the fact that the individual concentrates all his thoughts on personal exclusivity and importance to society. As a result, all conversations and actions of a sick person are aimed at alerting others about their own genius and uniqueness.

Symptoms and signs

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The characteristic signs of “great madness” include the following types of behavior and reactions:

  1. Self-focus, self-obsession. Other people's problems and experiences are not of interest and are not noticed.
  2. Complete rejection of someone else's point of view. One’s opinion is perceived as the only one worth attention and correct. This can lead to behavior that is dangerous both for the megalomaniac and for others.
  3. Tendency to exalt one's ideas and thoughts. Confidence in one’s high importance for society and the world as a whole. For example, a person may believe that he knows how to solve all the world's problems. At the same time, he will expect and demand from those around him confirmation of the genius of his conclusions.

Delusions of grandeur manifest themselves not only on the mental and emotional level, but also on the physical. A megalomaniac may experience increased motor activity and nervous excitability, and problems with sleep (insomnia).

In the case of bipolar disorder, high activity during the manic phase may be followed by periods of passivity, a feeling of constant fatigue and “sluggishness.”

Depression and suicidal thoughts are other characteristic symptoms of megalomania. Such conditions develop in the patient as a result of severe mental and physical exhaustion, which comes after a period of euphoria from thoughts of one’s omnipotence and super-worth.

Characteristic manifestations

Let's look at what the symptoms of this mania may be:

  • increased activity manifested in emotions and behavior - a person is excessively fussy, talks too much, sleeps little, is constantly overly cheerful, practically does not get tired;
  • there are mood swings, then a person can be overly optimistic, have an upbeat mood, then become suspicious, intrusive and aggressive;
  • presence of excessively high self-esteem;
  • has a negative attitude towards even minimal criticism in his direction (he can completely ignore it or react aggressively, defending his uniqueness);
  • complete conviction of the fallacy of other people’s opinions, the incorrectness of the ideas they have;
  • the occurrence of deviations in sleep patterns, it becomes short, anxious and superficial;
  • the phase of increased activity is replaced by a period of exhaustion, both physical and mental.

Men may experience manifestations with a predominance of aggressive emotions, which will be revealed in the physical sphere by domestic violence, demonstration of one’s strength, superiority, and in the psychological sphere by emotional pressure, despotism, tyranny.

Disregard for other people's points of view, boasting, exaltation of one's own opinion are manifestations characteristic of men with delusions of grandeur.

In women, this disorder is observed many times less often than in men. The following signs may be present:

  • attempts to prove the superiority of one’s beauty over other women;
  • admiration for her actions, exaggerating their value, indicating that others cannot do what she does;
  • an indication of one’s superiority in everyday life and in raising children.

Stages and possible modifications

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In general, the syndrome has a cyclical nature and goes through the following stages of development:

  1. The initial stage manifests itself in the form of an obsessive desire to somehow stand out from the crowd, to be brighter and better than others. There is a constant search for one's own advantages compared to the environment. If there are no real achievements, then fantasies are used. A person may imagine that he, for example, is the heir to a royal dynasty, or a messiah sent to Earth to save the human race. Ultimately, a person convinces himself that he is “special”, “unique”, “outstanding”.
  2. At the second stage of the syndrome, there is no longer any doubt about one’s uniqueness. A person engages in open narcissism and counts on admiration for his person from others. During this period, a megalomaniac can behave aggressively if someone dares not to show him the due degree of respect and admiration.

Any fact that refutes delusional ideas is interpreted by the patient in a perverted manner and integrated into the system of manic judgments

Additional Information. It is completely natural that behavior dictated by this disorder gives rise to serious conflicts with others. The disorder manifests itself most clearly in men, who often resort to physical violence. In women, the second stage of the disease usually occurs in a milder form: in the form of conviction in one’s sexual irresistibility, erotomania. As a rule, the object of the mania of a woman suffering from delusions of grandeur is some kind of celebrity: an outstanding writer, politician, movie star.

  1. At the third stage, aggression gives way to disappointment: the world does not understand and does not accept the megalomaniac, despite all his efforts. The feeling of one’s own uselessness and undervaluation can provoke the development of depression, voluntary social isolation, and the emergence of addictions (alcohol, drugs). In this phase, the patient is most dangerous to himself, as he may experience suicidal feelings.

In psychiatry, there are also several types of megalomania:

  • Delusions of a special origin, when the patient is convinced of his high origin. A megalomaniac may claim that he comes from an ancient noble family, or that he is a close relative of some celebrity.
  • Delusion of wealth, when a person believes that he has enormous financial resources and, accordingly, unwisely manages the money he actually has. Sometimes it seems to him that any material assets that he has heard or read about somewhere belong to him.
  • Alexandrism (from A. Macedonian) is the individual’s conviction that he has outstanding abilities and incredible human virtues. Often such delirium is personified, that is, the patient begins to identify himself with individuals who are considered geniuses (with great scientists, artists, political leaders).

Note! A person suffering from megalomania can be a truly outstanding personality. For example, the American mathematician John Nash, recognized for his work in the field of game theory, refused a prestigious academic post in connection with his intention to become emperor of Antarctica.

The prototype of the main character of Ron Howard's film "A Beautiful Mind" was the outstanding mathematician John Nash, suffering from delusions of grandeur

  • Delirium of invention (reformism) is a person’s unshakable conviction that he has made a great theoretical or practical discovery, the implementation of which will benefit humanity. For example, a patient may believe that he has invented an elixir of immortality or that a hydrogen bomb needs to be detonated at the north and south poles so that a tropical climate will form everywhere on the planet and fruits will become easily available all year round.
  • Delusion of falling in love is a person’s belief that a popular or high-ranking person has romantic feelings for him.
  • Paraphrenic syndrome is a combination of delusions of grandeur with delusions of persecution and delusions of damage. For example, a patient may imagine that they are trying to poison him.
  • Messiah syndrome is a person’s conviction that he is the messiah, the savior of humanity. In psychiatric practice, there are cases where people suffering from messianic delusions even managed to organize sects with numerous followers.

Where does the disease come from?

The reasons should also be considered. When does megalomania occur? It runs the risk of appearing if a person has progressive paralysis (or Bayle's disease), as well as cerebral syphilis. These diseases have several stages: from the onset to the development of the disease (from general weakness of the body to complete madness or even insanity).

Megalomania is a symptom that can either manifest itself or go unnoticed. This is especially true for syphilis. Here, this disorder manifests itself if the disease does not make itself felt for several years due to the fact that it occurs in a special, milder form (however, this happens in only 5% of patients). An interesting fact is that this state of the brain can also occur during affective psychosis, when a person begins to suddenly develop new ideas, exhibits an extremely painful reaction to various external stimuli, and may experience excessive eloquence.

Main causes of the disease

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Psychiatrists consider megalomania as a component of paranoia, manic syndrome, schizophrenia, and paralytic dementia. People whose close relatives suffered from these diseases are at risk. Transferred or advanced syphilis can also trigger a pathological process in the brain.

Sometimes the syndrome can develop in an individual with high self-esteem. The trigger in this case is a previous nervous breakdown or neurosis.

Important! Alcohol and drug abuse can trigger the development of delusions of grandeur.

About the concept

So, first of all, it’s worth understanding the concept itself. What is megalomania? If we consider the etymology of the word, then translated from Greek it is “too big”, “exaggerated”. Only after this can you draw certain conclusions for yourself.

If you strictly follow the medical dictionary, then it says that megalomania is a type of behavior and consciousness of a person when he too exaggerates his importance, mental abilities, talents, importance and power. As for science, this disorder is dealt with by the branch of mental pathology, which most often defines this condition as a component of paranoia or a symptom of manic syndrome.

Diagnostic methods and treatment methods

The disorder can only be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. A psychologist has the right only to suspect the client has a mental disorder and refer him for examination to a specialist in the field of psychiatry. A psychiatrist makes a diagnosis only after a personal conversation with a person whose relatives or psychologist have noticed signs of megalomania.

Next, the specialist prescribes medications aimed at treating the underlying disease and relieving the symptoms of delusional symptoms. Psychotherapeutic support is not cancelled.

Psychotherapy must necessarily complement drug treatment

In especially severe cases, when the patient’s behavior becomes dangerous for others or himself, hospitalization may be required.


Only a psychiatrist can diagnose megalomania. A psychologist can only suspect a problem and refer you to a doctor. The main diagnostic method is a conversation with the suspected patient. In addition, the doctor communicates with the patient’s relatives and friends and collects a complete medical history. At the same time, the doctor prescribes an instrumental examination of the brain. It is important to consider the dependence of megalomania symptoms on other diseases, for example, when combined with schizophrenia.

Note! Megalophobes themselves rarely seek help. As a rule, they are referred to a psychologist by close people. Patients do not see any problems in their behavior and self-perception; they try with all their might to demonstrate and prove their uniqueness.

How to deal with a megalomaniac

To avoid aggression towards yourself, it is necessary to demonstrate respect and interest in the ideas and “achievements” of the patient. Give enough time and attention to a conversation with a megalomaniac.

If a mentally healthy person has a close emotional connection with a patient, there is a risk of developing induced delusions or “delusions together.” As a result, a healthy person adopts the delusional ideas of a megalomaniac. You should be especially careful if a person or child in love with him communicates with the patient.

Depression and consequences of megalomania

Delusions of grandeur, oddly enough, are often replaced by a conviction of one’s own worthlessness. This happens when the patient loses confidence in his importance and power over the world. Returning to reality is very difficult and usually leads to the development of severe depression.

Therefore, it is important not only to rid a person of delusional judgments, but also to provide him with psychological support when the manic phase gives way to a depressive phase, to convince him of the value of his personality, regardless of life’s achievements and the recognition of others.

Predisposition to megalomania: risk group

It is believed that the risk group consists of people suffering from alcohol or drug addiction. Also, a tendency towards delusions of grandeur is observed in children of representatives of the “financial elite”, whose parents were overprotective; such children initially live under a cognitive and psychological cap: they are told that they are the best, the most beloved, the most talented, and so on - not allowing them to experience reality and draw conclusions on their own. If the child is weak-minded, the rich daddy will still get him into university, and the bribed teachers will give him good grades. In childhood, information is perceived uncritically, and a person learns to think as he is told. In adulthood, we get a completely incompetent person, who, however, is convinced that he can do everything and that he is the smartest (rich, influential, etc.).

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