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In this article, we take a more in-depth look at delusions of grandeur, the different types, symptoms, causes, and possible treatments. People experiencing delusions of grandeur see themselves as great, highly accomplished, more important than others, or even magical. The delusion may be persistent, or it may appear only periodically. Some people with delusions of grandeur also experience other delusions, such as a fear of persecution or unusual religious beliefs.
However, a delusion of grandeur is more than just very high self-esteem or an inflated sense of self-importance.
Delusions in Context | Lisa Bortolotti | Palgrave Macmillan
It marks a significant disconnection from the real world. A person with delusions of grandeur may continue to believe in the delusion in spite of contradictory evidence. Delusions of grandeur come in many forms. Many people experience delusions of a similar theme over time. Delusions of grandeur can manifest in virtually limitless ways. Some of the most common types include:. Cultural factors can affect the content of a person's delusions.
This is because culture affects a person's knowledge and what they believe about the world. Something that is considered a delusion in one culture might not be in another. For the belief to be a delusion, it must be unreasonable and incorrect. For instance, a person who claims to be president of the United States, when they clearly are not, is an example of a delusion of grandeur.
There may be other symptoms along with an inflated false belief of one's own importance. These include:.
Because delusions of grandeur are usually related to a mental health condition, most people with this symptom also experience other mental health symptoms. An estimated 10 percent of the general population experience some level of delusions of grandeur. Several mental health conditions make these delusions much more likely. Schizophrenia is a mental health condition characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and a difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy.
Around 50 percent of people with schizophrenia may experience grandiose delusions. This condition can cause unusual thought patterns, changes in mood or behavior, difficulty focusing, memory issues, and difficulties performing daily tasks. People with schizophrenia may have several delusions that affect their daily lives. A study found that other mental health factors can alter the content of a person with schizophrenia's delusions.
People with higher self-esteem and less depression were more likely to have delusions of grandeur, while people with low self-esteem and depression were more likely to have delusions of persecution. A similar disorder, schizoaffective disorder , can also cause delusions and hallucinations. It may be mistaken for schizophrenia. Similarly to schizophrenia, delusional disorder can cause delusions of grandeur. People with delusional disorder, however, do not experience other schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations.
Bipolar is a mental health condition characterized by periods of depression followed by periods of mania. During times of mania, a person may have a highly inflated sense of self. This can manifest as a delusion of grandeur. Around two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder may experience grandiose delusions. During a manic episode, a person with bipolar may also spend too much money, have trouble sleeping, seem very hyper, or behave aggressively.
In most mental health conditions, people with the same condition can have very different personalities. Personality disorders directly affect the personality, fundamentally changing how a person relates to others and themselves. People with narcissistic personality disorder NPD have a greatly inflated sense of their own importance. They seek validation and flattery, believe themselves to be special and unique, and lack empathy.
A person with NPD may have a sense of entitlement that leads them to act in ways that other people may find objectionable in order to obtain admiration and special privileges. Most people think of dementia, including Alzheimer's, as a memory impairment. Yet dementia slowly reduces a person's ability to think clearly. It can affect much about the way they interact with the world, plan, and think.
As dementia progresses, some people develop delusions, including delusions of grandeur. People with dementia who have delusions of grandeur typically have many other symptoms, including significant memory issues. Damage to the brain can sometimes change the way people think, potentially causing delusions. Brain injuries may also cause hallucinations, memory problems, personality changes, and difficulties with basic skills, such as reading.
The Definition of Delusion
Many brain injuries are due to trauma, such as being hit in the head during a car accident. Brain lesions, strokes , and brain tumors can also damage the brain. Treating delusions of grandeur can be difficult. These delusions may feel good to the person who experiences them. Moreover, because people with delusions truly believe in their delusions, they are often resistant to treatment. Anti-psychotic drugs are often helpful in treating delusions due to many of the causes. People with bipolar may need to take drugs, such as lithium, or other mood stabilizers.
Research on treatments for delusional disorder is limited. A Cochrane review reports that there is little high-quality evidence for effective treatments for delusional disorders. Group therapy can help a person to develop healthier relationships with other people. People with delusions related to personality disorders may need comprehensive, ongoing therapy to offset the effects that delusions have on their personality.
Delusions can be difficult to treat. Treatment often focuses on managing and reducing symptoms rather than curing the underlying condition. Excerpted from Surviving Schizophrenia, 5th Edition by E. All rights reserved. Delusions and hallucinations are probably the best-known symptoms of schizophrenia. They are dramatic and are therefore the behaviors usually focused on when schizophrenia is being represented in popular literature or movies. Reacting to delusions is a major cause of violence by people with schizophrenia who are untreated. And certainly delusions and hallucinations are very important and common symptoms of this disease.
However, it should be remembered that they are not essential to it; indeed no single symptom is essential for the diagnosis of schizophrenia. There are many people with schizophrenia who have a combination of other symptoms, such as a thought disorder, disturbances of affect, and disturbances of behavior, who have never had delusions or hallucinations. It should also be remembered that delusions and hallucinations are found in brain diseases other than schizophrenia, so their presence does not automatically mean that schizophrenia is present.
They are usually based on some kind of sensory experience that the person misinterprets. This may be as simple as brief static on the radio or a flicker of the television screen that the person interprets as a signal. Family members often wonder where the delusional ideas in the affected person came from. One simple form of a delusion is the conviction that random events going on around the person all relate in a direct way to him or her.
The person with schizophrenia, however, not only hears the cough but may immediately decide it must be a signal of some kind, perhaps directed to someone else down the street to warn him that the person is coming.