Megalomania: definition, symptoms, causes, consequences

Megalomania: definition, symptoms, causes, consequences

Having very high self-esteem and adopting an air of superiority can sometimes reflect an emotional injury experienced in childhood. This is the case for megalomaniacs. Explanations.

Definition: What is it to be a megalomaniac (megalomaniac or megalomaniac)?

Megalomania is a term derived from ancient Greek, where “megas” means big, and “mania” means madness. Thus, megalomania can be understood as a form of madness linked to an excessive quest for grandeur and power. Megalomaniacs often have an exaggerated view of their own importance and are convinced of their superiority over others. According to the Larousse online dictionary, the megalomaniac is a person suffering from “of a delusion characterized by overestimation of oneself and, in common language, of a person who manifests ideas of grandeur, excessive pride“. Megalomania reflects a superiority complex and is found in narcissistic pathology. It is a psychiatric illness. The character traits of megalomaniacs, characterized by their disproportionate desire for grandeur and power, can have a significant impact on their surroundings.

The causes of megalomania

This feeling of superiority towards others is in reality a defense mechanism to protect oneself from a narcissistic injury. “Megalomania is an attachment disorder that develops in childhood, due to insecure attachment, which is often of the avoidant type. The child may have been confronted with a parent who did not recognize his emotions, his needs, his desires. This non-recognition may have been accompanied by anger: the parent did not want to hear the child’s cries and anything unpleasant he might express.“, explains Christine Calonne, psychologist and psychotherapist, author of “100 questions/answers Narcissism: creative or destructive” (Ellipses editions). The child, unrecognized and unsupported, did not feel worthy of interest in eyes of his parents which fostered a bad image of him. To protect himself from this feeling, he unconsciously built a defense system by developing over-esteem of himself. Megalomania is therefore a kind of compensation for a feeling of inferiority , emotional deprivation and a lack of self-esteem.”Thanks to neuroscience, we know that this is a survival behavior that is truly automatic, it is not something voluntary“, adds the psychologist.

Psychiatry: Megalomania reinforced in cases of paranoia, schizophrenia, bipolar illness

Megalomania generally arises from a self-sourced, narcissistic personality structure that seeks to combat a feeling of inferiority. It can also be associated with psychiatric pathologies. “In psychopathology, there are three main structures: neuroses, borderline states and psychoses. Megalomania is one of the borderline states but one can have megalomania, therefore narcissistic traits, in schizophréniesin the bipolarity and in paranoia“, explains the psychologist. Narcissistic personality disorder can also be reinforced by paranoia or schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

What are the symptoms of megalomania? How to recognize a megalomaniac?

The characteristics of this disease are:

  • A delirium of power : The megalomaniac has exaggerated behavior. He feels stronger, more intelligent, more cultured, more beautiful than others. He may consider himself unique, exceptional, even divine. The attribution of these extraordinary abilities can be reflected in his attitudes, his actions, his words. He thus tends to put himself forward, to boast, to always bring the discussion back to him and his experience. The megalomaniac has delusions of grandeur and an immense desire for glory. He can nourish fantasies of unlimited power and success, have excessive aspirations, often disconnected from reality.
  • Constant need for admiration : Megalomaniacs incessantly seek the approval and admiration of others. They are obsessed with their public image and seek to constantly be the center of attention.
  • A lack of altruism : The megalomaniac is self-centered. He has difficulty recognizing the skills and knowledge of others since they will never do as well as him. Complimenting them would amount to elevating them and bringing them closer to him, which he doesn’t want.
  • Aggressive actions and remarks : His excessive pride can lead him to devalue others, criticize them, assert his point of view loudly without listening to them.
  • Dominant and manipulative behavior : The megalomaniac behaves dominatingly and in control of others. He can be manipulative and exploit the people around him to achieve his goals. He often struggles to establish authentic relationships, instead using others as means to an end.
  • An avoidance of intimacy : The megalomaniac avoids his inferiority, but also avoids the emotions and needs of others. “This leads him to no longer be in touch with others and no longer able to love. There is an avoidance of intimacy because it involves sharing his emotions, and he is no longer capable of this since he had to deny his emotions to survive“, analyzes Christine Calonne. Relationships often turn out to be complicated.”If the partner expresses, as he himself did as a child, painful emotions, frustrated needs, this reactivates all his childhood wounds and he cannot stand it, so dialogue is impossible“, analyzes Christine Calonne. The megalomaniac adopts the same behavior as his parent, and blames his partner for his problems.

It is very important to be able to identify these relational mechanisms that accompany megalomania in order to understand the consequences of these acts and better protect oneself as a victim.

How to act and behave when faced with a megalomaniac?

Being around or living with a megalomaniac can become difficult on a daily basis because their attitudes and words are focused solely on him and his successes. Even if it can be tempting to oppose the megalomaniac to make him realize his behavior, according to the psychologist, the first thing to do is not to react. “This allows you to take a step back and look within yourself for a resource to feel safe. It is better to let the aggressive reactions of the megalomaniac pass and not in turn become aggressive because at that moment it is escalation“, she advises. Taking a step back avoids feeling dominated and manipulated. It is then a matter of adopting a benevolent attitude by remembering that this person is hiding a wound of inferiority. We can point out to them that their These reactions lead him to be alone, but he often ends up realizing this after yet another romantic separation.

What treatment to get rid of your megalomaniac personality?

Difficult for a megalomaniac, who therefore considers himself superior, to recognize that he has a problem or that he needs help. It is often following a romantic breakup that these personalities consult because they realize that their behavior is inappropriate for a social life. All the childhood traumas then emerge and it is difficult for them to bear it. Therapy can be through a behavioral approach with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). “We will first focus on the present. We analyze with the person who has this disorder the causes and consequences of megalomania. We then make a link with childhood. Secondly, we will seek to give the person resources to regain self-confidence and internal security. Thirdly, we will desensitize her to these childhood traumas“, explains the psychologist. To achieve this, she uses EMDR psychotherapy (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, in English). The therapist places his finger in front of the eyes of the patient who follows him to perform an eye scan from left to right and from right to left. This helps the person to free themselves from emotional burden and transform their negative thoughts, so as to extract the feeling of inferiority and have good self-esteem without remaining in megalomania.