What Is Meant By Delusions Of Grandeur?

What Is Meant By Delusions Of Grandeur?

People with delusions of grandeur believe that they possess special characteristics or abilities that make them superior to others. From thinking that they have been chosen for a special mission to having a divine origin, there are many manifestations of this psychological disorder.

From the point of view of Psychology, the “delusion of grandeur” is the irrational belief in the power, influence, or special abilities, which have no real basis. The person who suffers from it may believe that they have been chosen to fulfill a key mission for humanity, that they are related to an important person, or, in the most extreme cases, they may have the delusion of being the incarnation of some kind of divinity. 

The term has become so popular that it is common to hear it (in the media, novels, or songs)  referring to someone who brags too much about their personal achievements or conquests when in reality, these are simple displays of pride or vanity. However, this psychological disorder should not be trivialized as it can be very harmful to the person who suffers from it and to those around them.

What Are Delusions Of Grandeur?

In psychology, a delusion is a false, persistent, and unchangeable belief that is held despite evidence to the contrary. Delusions can be present in various psychological or neurological disorders. These are the specific characteristics of “delusions of grandeur”:

Belief In being special 

These people are convinced that they are unique beings, people with a special status, with great power. They may also believe that they are chosen beings with some kind of important mission. 

There may be another version of the delusion of grandeur in which the person believes they are related to some famous person or in a position of power. 


These delusional ideas are very resistant to change, despite reality showing them that they are wrong. In fact, trying to convince them of their mistake can further reinforce their belief that they are special, but misunderstood and that the world is against them. 

Exaggerated and dangerous optimism

Being convinced by the fantasy that they are special or that they have a higher mission, these people can venture into potentially dangerous situations. For example, they may invest family savings in crazy projects without any preparation, or they may drive at high speeds convinced that nothing is going to happen to them. 

Delusions of Grandeur in psychiatric disorders

Although they can occur separately, it is also common for delusions of grandeur to be associated with serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Evaluation by expert professionals is necessary to clarify the diagnosis and treatment. 

Delusions of Grandeur: Cause

Delusions of grandeur is a complex psychological disorder and its origin is usually multifactorial. These are some of the possible causes that can combine to cause it:

As an escape mechanism

In people who have lived in very dysfunctional families, with high levels of aggression and violence, fantasizing that they are a different and special person can be a way of not being aware of the harsh reality they have suffered.

Make up for insecurities

People who carry low self-esteem and a lack of control over their lives, due to a lack of support in their childhood, can create an artificial role in which they convince themselves that they are important and powerful. In this way, they can feel (artificially) the tranquility or confidence that they could not achieve naturally with the support of their elders. 

Psychiatric Disorder

In the most severe cases, delusions of grandeur are one of the symptoms of disorders such as bipolarity or schizophrenia. It can also occur in people with advanced Alzheimer’s. 

Delusions of Grandeur: Therapy

Due to the resistance to admitting their problem, it is very difficult for a person with delusions of grandeur to seek psychological or psychiatric help. It is useless for others to try to convince the person to seek psychological help. What’s more, this can be counterproductive. This step must be something personal that comes from an internal motivation. Only then will they be involved in your therapy and your healing. 

In my practice, I have met several people with delusions of grandeur who have sought therapy. They were encouraged to take this step after suffering a severe crisis (accident or illness) that pushed them to “open their eyes” to their delirium. It often happens that, when the inexorable reality prevails, it can cause a shock so strong that it manages to tear down the fantasy castle that they built in the past. 

When this happens, we can work to assume the traumatic past, heal blocked emotions and focus on the future with a much more realistic and balanced vision. 

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