Delusion of Grandeur

boy looking bigger than he isA delusion of grandeur is the false belief in one’s own superiority, greatness, or intelligence. People experiencing delusions of grandeur do not just have high self-esteem; instead, they believe in their own greatness and importance even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Someone might, for example, believe they are destined to be the leader of the world, despite having no leadership experience and difficulties in interpersonal relationships. Delusions of grandeur are characterized by their persistence. They are not just moments of fantasy or hopes for the future.

Symptoms of Delusion of Grandeur

Delusions of grandeur vary greatly in their content, but they are similar to one another in that they involve the persistent believe in one’s own grandiosity. Common examples of delusions of grandeur include:

  • Belief that one has a special relationship with a supernatural entity. Cult leaders, for example, might believe they can communicate with a god or that they are a manifestation of a god on earth.
  • Belief that one has a special relationship with a famous person or authority figure, such as the president.
  • Belief that one has a unique destiny. These destinies often involve power, fame, fortune, or supernatural concepts.

Causes of Delusion of Grandeur

Delusions of grandeur are associated with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which is a mental health diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). A narcissistic personality may cause people to greatly overestimate their own importance and believe in their own uniqueness. These delusions can also be symptomatic of schizophrenia. Some people with schizophrenia experience delusions in which they believe they are a hugely powerful person or have a great gift to give to the world.

Treatment for Delusion of Grandeur

Treatment of delusions depends upon the underlying cause. It is important for practitioners to differentiate between delusions of grandeur and simple hopes for the future. A person, for example, who wants to be president one day is likely not experiencing a delusion of grandeur. A combination of talk therapy and medication can be helpful in treating delusions of grandeur. Depending upon the delusion’s cause, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and/or antipsychotic medications may be prescribed.

Reference:

Colman, A. M. (2006). Oxford dictionary of psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Last Updated: 11-30-2016

  • 11 comments
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  • Jimmy

    Jimmy

    April 23rd, 2014 at 3:01 AM

    can you recommend me a good doctor in the Hacienda Hts, CA area or Los Angeles for this treatment.

  • Mark

    Mark

    June 2nd, 2016 at 7:26 AM

    I have believed and still believe i can communicate with god and god communicates with me, this has been happening for sometime now, it was alarming to start off with but now ive got used to it (medication helps with this).

  • Carol S.

    Carol S.

    January 1st, 2017 at 10:46 AM

    I have a daughter who is 47 and believes with all her heart and soul that she is a Messiah. She has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, boarder line, depression, and BiPolar. She tried med’s many years back and said they gave her too many side affects, and were of no help for her. Now she thinks she is God and is not sick so she doesn’t need to go to a Dr. or get help. Her diagnosis is a new one as I talked her into getting on disability after being homeless and not working for years. How can I get her help when she thinks she is fine?

  • Miranda

    Miranda

    March 1st, 2017 at 8:51 PM

    Unless she is a danger to herself or others you really can’t do anything. Do you have an Adult Protection agency you can call? They may send a social worker out to see and evaluate her. If they feel supervision is required they will petition the court to order supervision. If so, a caseworker could be assigned to her, and they would have the ability to monitor her and in some instances obtain hospitalization. After the US deinstitutionalized the country many mentally ill ended up on the streets and in other institutions. Primary jail and prison. Deinstitutionalization caused more problems than it solved.

  • Laura

    Laura

    May 8th, 2017 at 5:02 PM

    Carol S. – you should check out a book called
    I Am Not Sick-I Don’t Need Help
    by Xavier Amador,PhD

  • steph

    steph

    June 26th, 2017 at 1:02 PM

    I have a sister she is 21, for about a year or 2 she has been having paranoid delusions…for example she believes she is a Hindu Goddess reincarnated, she believes people from certain cultures recognize her as this and are in awe of her. She believed the cable man came in my mothers house and set up secret cameras to spy on her. She called me a few days ago saying a man is trying to impregnate her…then take her back to his country to kill her and give her child to the devil. She was hospitalized in the psyc ward for about a month..and was diagnosed criminally insane she says when they let her out. She doesn’t think she has a problem and will not take medicine for it, she can seem completely normal to everyone around her…its one on one when she tells me of her delusions…she knows it sounds crazy yet doesn’t listen to reason. The issues here on top of that is my mom and disabled aunt live with her and she is EXTREMELY violent with them and cruel she actually hospitalized my aunt and rebroke my mother ribs in a fight….my older sister and I live a few states away so there’s little we could do from here at the time. We since moved my aunt down here…and my mom will moving here within a month. Leaving my younger sister back home 700 miles away from her family and on her own for the first time. I don’t know what to do…I’m so worried for my sisters safety that she can’t take care of herself, that she doesn’t recognize she has a mental issue, and also she is very promiscuous and will bring any man home with her she is too trusting of others. She has burnt her bridges with all her family we have all given her so many chances. We are doing the tough love thing and maybe she will smarten up and take the medication she needs in order to be allowed to move here with us. I’m just scared she will end up dead, living on her own in Boston, taking random men home with her she meets on the streets. She doesn’t have friends she can depend on its just her…no one has her back. Has anyone had a similar experience with a family member or anyone who can offer some advice as to what we can do as a family to help her please. We all love her and want her to live a good life….how can u help some one who doesn’t think they need to be helped? Any insight would be greatly appreciated…thank you and sorry for the novel

  • Melanie J

    Melanie J

    December 17th, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    I have a friend who has been suffering from alcoholism and deep depression since his divorce 7 years ago.. He has been surviving in a house that is filled with hoarded junk.. His children have disowned him and he has no friends close by upon whom he can depend.
    He is currently hospitalized with major delusions .. He feels he is in the Nasa space program and is in regular communication with Donald Trump.. Something in his brain has snapped.. I am at a loss as how to help him.. I am truly the only friend he has willing to help.. family has no desire to help.. What advice do you have for me?

  • Mary

    Mary

    December 17th, 2017 at 2:00 PM

    I have 2 family members that believe they are a Manifest sons of God (basically God). It is a mother and son. Both have been through a lot growing up. It seems as they got older and went through some more “tough” times and had things happen to them both, that it turned into the delusion that they are chosen ones. The Mom never drank, and I am grateful the son does not drink anymore. It was bad because if he had one drink, it turned into not being able to stop, and then he would get a temper and act so unlike himself. Seems like after he got hurt and could no longer do sports professionally, that when it started worse. He was always really smart, and talented, so it must have really hurt him to lose everything. I heard the male grandparents had the same issue when they were in their 30’s, but not as bad. It hurts me so much that I just can not be around them anymore. Their moods are all over the place, and so are their thoughts. It is very uncomfortable to be around, so I had to withdraw which hurt so badly. The woman’s husband loves her, so he goes along with it all too. Or maybe now he believes it as well. Or maybe he is afraid to lose them? It makes me feel bad like I am being mean to not be around them, but it causes me really bad PTSD like symptoms from past issues with them, and I get scared. My husband and I just feel it’s best to love them from afar. I feel for everyone who deals with a similar situation. I am at a loss, but I know there is always hope if they will ever get the help they need. These 2 people at this point won’t after 15 years of trying, but I still hope. It messes with so many lives, and grandchildren, and that is sad. Thanks for listening. I was taught you never talk about “issues”, but this stuff hurts and affects your life too. Talking about it helps me.

  • Hope springs eternal

    Hope springs eternal

    December 29th, 2017 at 8:28 AM

    I hope you don’t mind me sharing my experiences. Let me just say that I am very fortunate that my illness is caused by certain Drugs and in particular to me, too much alcohol. When I am not induced I function fairly well. I have suffered from both Delusions of persecution and grandeur. The persecution side of it can be very dangerous, I would have literally been prepared to do anything to protect myself from my perceived harm when my feelings of persecution would arise. They have included over the years, thoughts of telepathy and people conspiring to kill me. I believed I was able to communicate with aliens. And at its worst, a feeling that I must sacrifice myself to allow good to transpire from it. And this would be done by allowing people to kill me in the most despicable way known to human life, a debilitating fear of everything. All severe, but very real to me at that moment in time. The delusions of grandeur were a very different and I have to admit it, a much more enjoyable experience, but none the less very extreme, if not, at least for me, less dangerous. I started these experiences by beliefs that I was very self important, I was reading a lot of religious texts at the time, and if anything this confused me. I started to believe I was part of these religious texts, like it was a stage play and I was God. (still I find this strange because I don’t really believe in god) The problem is when you reach that state of perceived enlightenment, you never wont to let go. I mean this from the bottom of my heart its like a pure state of Nirvana. Imagine standing on the top of Everest on a lovely clear warm day, and then think about coming back down to sea level, you just wouldn’t be the same again. And that’s the crux of the illness right there, its the transitioning from this moment of perceived absolute genius back down to be a mere mortal like the rest of civilisation. I will be honest and say its taken me years to fully accept the latter. I once heard someone say always leave room for someone greater than yourself to believe in. For me this has really helped, and imo it doesn’t have to be religion. Let me just say when science talks about the possibility of infinite Multiverse you get the drift. Like I said at the top of the page I am fortunate that my distorted take on reality is only momentarily in the grand scheme of things, but I know there is people out there who suffer on a daily basis and my heart goes out to all those struggling with their own reality. The brain is a very delicate instrument and can be wired up differently in different people. For me I had to work through my own reality to find some truth, but even then I suppose my own truth just becomes a opinion. Anyway I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my quick summery of my past experience with delusions. Take care.

  • Grace

    Grace

    January 14th, 2018 at 6:42 AM

    Thank you for sharing. What I find fascinating is that so many people from diverse backgrounds and places all have the same or similar expression of delusions. It’s enough to make anyone feel paranoid.

  • Adam J

    Adam J

    January 30th, 2018 at 3:29 PM

    I am physically immortal, many people think I am delusional but I am not. I found out about my immortality about 8 years ago on May 16 2011, when a man shot me in the head and the chest in an attempt to steal my cell phone. He shot me a total of 5 times; 2 times in the head and 3 times in the chest. They did penetrate into my body, but instead of dying or fainting, my body healed within seconds as I stood in front of him, as well as in front of other people, as it was at a public bus stop. After that I thoroughly tested whether this was real or not, both on my own and by forcing others to attempt to kill me; again I healed from everything done to me much faster than things I did to myself; yet I didn’t lose consciousness or need medical attention; everyone who has tested my claims has seen physical evidence of my immortality being true, while those who either weren’t there, or did not test it think I am delusional. How do I show others that I am not delusional?

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