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What is Grandiosity?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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Grandiosity is the state of being delusional in terms of one's importance. People with mental disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia may be grandiose in their manner at times. Grandiose behavior often affects others as being unrealistic, conceited and even rude. People experiencing grandiosity may feel they have special powers or a unique spiritual connection with the universe.

Most people at some time or other exaggerate about their abilities in a grandiose way; this doesn't mean they have a delusional disorder. Grandiose is just one type of delusional disorder. The others are persecutory, somatic and jealous. People with persecutory delusions may think they're being followed when they're not, while those with somatic delusional disorder often believe they have a disease they don't actually have. Those experiencing grandiose delusional disorder have the false knowledge that they have special powers or abilities.

Grandiose delusional disorder is quite rare, but if grandiosity seems to be a regular behavior, professional help should be sought for a proper diagnosis. Diagnosis of grandiose delusional disorder is usually difficult though. Medical tests such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) may detect brain abnormalities that can explain a delusional disorder. Yet, delusional people are usually fixed in their beliefs and won't believe they have a mental disorder.

Studies have shown that those most likely to develop grandiose delusional disorder are married, employed, working class people. People with bipolar, or manic depressive, disorder often display grandiosity in their manic phase. Their thinking may be delusional. Manic phase bipolar people display rapid speech and movement. They may engage in impulsive, self-destructive behaviors such as gambling or bad business decisions.

Many schizophrenics often have delusions of grandeur. Their grandiosity may include hearing critical voices at the same time they believe they have extraordinary or world-changing powers. Grandiose delusions may take the form of religious or spiritual powers; those experiencing grandiosity tend to feel not only powerful, but invincible, like nothing bad can happen to them. Those with any type of grandiose delusions tend to push people away by displaying brash, conceited behavior. Both personal and professional relationships are likely to be affected if grandiose delusional people become aggressive or violent in addition to behaving defensively and secretively.

Grandiose thinking may be kept secret at first, but because the delusional person often has such strong false beliefs and boasts about his or her powers, abilities or accomplishments, other people tend to become aware of the problem. In some cases, the delusion may be believable and it may take others time to realize that the delusional person is not connected to reality. People with grandiose delusional disorder often seem believable when their claims aren't too far-fetched, as they tend to be extremely detail-oriented and deeply convinced that their false beliefs are actually the truth.

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