What are delusions of grandeur?

A delusion of grandeur is an untrue or unusual belief about one ‘s greatness. For example , a person may believe they are famous, may end world wars or may believe they are immortal.

Delusion of grandeur, also known as grandiose delusions, frequently accompany certain signs of mental health and other delusions. Mental or physical health conditions, including schizophrenia , bipolar disorder, or some types of dementia may be related to this.

In this post, we take a closer look at delusions of grandeur, the various forms, signs, causes and possible remedies.

What are delusions of grandeur?

A young man with delusion of grandeur
A delusion of grandeur is a false belief in one’s importance or greatness.

People who experience delusions of grandeur see themselves as amazing, highly skilled, more significant than anyone, or even as magic. The delusion may continue, or may only occur periodically.

Many people with delusions of grandeur often encounter certain delusions, including fear of persecution or peculiar religious convictions.

A delusion of grandeur, though, is more than either a very high self-esteem, or an exaggerated sense of self-importance. This represents an significant separation from the real world. An individual with delusions of grandeur can still believe in the delusion despite conflicting evidence.

Types

Delusions of grandeur come in many forms. Over time many people are experiencing delusions of a similar theme.

Delusions of grandeur can occur in virtually limitless ways. Some of the most prevalent types include:

  • an inflated belief in one’s own importance, such as having the power to end war
  • a belief that one is famous or occupies a high position in society
  • a belief that one is a religious leader
  • a belief in one’s ability to live forever
  • a false belief that one cannot be harmed by disease or injury
  • an inflated sense of intelligence
  • a belief that one possesses magical skills, such as the ability to read minds

Cultural factors can impact a person’s delusions content. It is because culture affects the understanding of an individual and what he thinks about the universe. In one culture something that is considered to be a delusion may not be in another.

Symptoms

Self dismissive lady
A person with delusions of grandeur may be dismissive of those who do not accept their delusional belief or beliefs.

A person believing in their own excellence is the characteristic of a delusion of grandeur.

It must be unreasonable and incorrect for the creed to be a delusion. For example , a person who claims to be the president of the United States, when obviously they are not, is an example of a grand delusion.

Many symptoms can come together with an exaggerated false perception in one’s own importance. Including:

  • difficulty getting along with others because of the delusion
  • a persistent belief in the delusion in spite of contrary evidence
  • dismissal of or anger at people who refuse to accept the delusional belief
  • persistent attempts to get others to accept the belief
  • behaving as if the belief is true
  • experiencing other delusions

Since delusions of grandeur are probably linked to a mental health condition, most people with this symptom also encounter other mental health issues.

Causes and related conditions

An estimated 10 percent of the general population is experiencing some degree of grandeur delusions. Some aspects in mental health make such delusions much more likely.

Conditions that can lead to delusions of grandeur include:

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a condition of mental health characterized by delusions , hallucinations, and a difficulty that distinguishes reality from fantasy.

Approximately 50 percent of schizophrenic people can experience grandiose delusions.

This disorder can cause irregular patterns of thinking, changes in mood or behaviour, concentration difficulties, memory problems, and difficulties performing daily tasks. People with schizophrenia can experience multiple delusions affecting their daily lives.

A 2006 study found that other mental health factors can alter a person’s content with delusions about schizophrenia. People with higher self-esteem and lower depression were more likely to have delusions of grandeur while people with low self-esteem and depression were more likely to have persecution delusions.

A similar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, may also cause hallucinations and delusions. This may be confused with schizophrenia.

Delusional disorder

Similar to schizophrenia, delusional disorder may cause grandiose delusions. Moreover, individuals with delusional disorder don’t suffer other signs of schizophrenia, like hallucinations.

Bipolar

Bipolar is a state of mental health which is characterized by periods of depression accompanied by mania. A person may have a highly inflated sense of self during times of mania. This can manifest as a delusion of grandeur.

About two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder may have grand delusions.

A person with bipolar may also spend too much money, have trouble sleeping, appear very hyper or behave aggressively during a manic episode.

Narcissistic personality disorder

People with the same condition can have very different personalities in most mental-health conditions. Disorders of personality directly influence personality, profoundly altering how an individual is connected to others and to themselves.

Those with narcissistic personality disorder ( NPD) have their own highly exaggerated sense of value. They crave affirmation and flattery, they think they are different and exceptional and they lack empathy.

An individual with NPD may feel entitled to behave in ways that other people may find offensive to receiving respect and special privileges.

Dementia

Most people think of dementia as a memory impairment including Alzheimer’s. Yet dementia slowly diminishes a person’s ability to clearly think. It can affect a lot about how they interact with the world, how they plan and how they think.

As dementia progresses, certain people develop delusions, including grandiose delusions. Individuals with dementia who have grandiose delusions typically have several other symptoms, including severe memory issues.

Brain injury

Often, damage to the brain can affect the way people think, potentially leading to delusions. Brain damage can also cause hallucinations, problems with memory, changes in personality and difficulty with basic skills, such as reading.

Most brain injuries, such as being hit in the head during a car accident, are due to trauma. Brain lesions, strokes , and brain tumors can also affect the brain.

Treatment

Attending group therapy may help a person to build healthier relationships with others.
Attending group therapy may help a person to build healthier relationships with others.

It can be difficult to deal with the delusions of grandeur. The person who experiences such delusions can feel good at it. Therefore, when people with delusions actually believe in their delusions, they frequently refuse treatment.

Due to many of the causes, anti-psychotic medications are also effective in treating delusions. People with bipolar may have to take drugs, like lithium, or other mood stabilizers.

Study into delusional condition therapy is minimal. A 2014 Cochrane review states there is no evidence of high-quality clinical care for delusional disorders.

Those with delusions may however benefit from counseling to help them cope with their delusions.

Group therapy can help one person develop healthier relationships with others. Individuals with personality disorder-related delusions may need intensive, ongoing therapy to counteract the impact that delusions have on their personality.

Outlook

Delusions can be difficult to treat. Treatment also focuses not on treating the underlying condition but on controlling and reducing symptoms. A person with delusions may need to take medication or have long-term therapy to manage their symptoms for their entire lives, depending on the cause.

Occasionally one therapy stops working, so a person has to try another. A willingness to experiment and seek support from a reliable care professional may help control delusions and related symptoms.

A person who is experiencing delusions is often unaware that their behavior is not usual, although witnessing to other people can be unsettling. Because grandiose delusions make a person feel important, they may not want to give up on them.

Helping a person see how their delusions can adversely affect their lives or relationships. Individuals with delusions may have stable relationships and lives, with support and treatment.

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