A person that suffers from grandiose delusions may think they’re a Prophet of the Lord, Jesus himself, a celebrity, a super-genius, a super hero, or just the chosen one.
They’re just a regular person who thinks they’re an extremely special or gifted person that’s better than everybody else.
They can be homeless but believe they live in a mansion and they’re rich. This person will swear they’ve bathed in rose petal water when you can look at them and tell they haven’t bathed in a week. They may even tell you that they talk to God and they have some big secret information that only they know. Either way, it’s important to not feed into the delusion no matter how upset, angry, or frustrated they may get.
Approximately 10% of the population is delusional, but they are not classified as suffering from psychosis or specifically delusions of grandeur. Thinking you’re the best, or prettiest, or smartest doesn’t mean you have grandiose delusions. It’s when you are none of those things but “believe” that you are when there is cause for concern.
Hallucinations, irritability, anger, hostility, and depression are symptoms of other illnesses that may manifest.
When everyone else knows it’s a delusion but the person does not, it’s a problem. If all the evidence and all the facts contradict the individual’s belief then it’s definitely a delusion. It’s like when a person says they’re a rich CEO of a company but you know they don’t even have one job, that’s a grandiose delusion.
The person usually believes that everybody knows them or should know who they are because they are so important. They may act like the paparazzi is after them, or become confused when people don’t know who they are because they think they’re famous.
The person may think they are a genius, that they know more than other people. They think they are the smartest person on earth, or that they have some type of knowledge of something that others don’t have. Those that have a Ph.D. may exhibit this symptom. They have a high level of expertise in their field to the point they may feel they know it all.
Regardless of evidence, the person will not listen to what others have to say about them. They only believe the delusion and accept that as truth, nothing else. No matter what you try to tell this person, or show them to the contrary, they will not believe anything you have to say. They may even decide you’re jealous of what they have, who they are, or what they know. Any evidence shared with them will be viewed as lies.
The delusion will always be the exact opposite of reality. It will be impossible and implausible to be true.
A powerless person may think they hold a position of power to combat the powerlessness of their situation. The opposite of that would be a rich person who sees himself as a god or a king because of his position in society. The delusion lies in the reality of the actual power that they hold versus the power they believe they have.
A person that suffers from grandiose delusions thinks they are more important than they really are. They believe the world would not turn without them.
Connections with icons, religious deities, and among the rich and famous are all examples of people they want to be connected to. They may claim they talk to Jesus, or are friends with famous people.
These people live their lives based on these delusions. It impacts and affects their quality of life even though it’s not tied to anything in the moment.
If other illnesses are the cause of the delusions, other symptoms may include euphoria, assaultive behavior, and seizures.
In some cases, it’s difficult to say exactly what causes these types of delusions. Psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, and delirium have been suspected to be the cause. There are other suspected causes such as lesions in the frontal lobe of the brain, drug use, genetics, environment, neurotransmitter concentrations, receptor density, brain anatomy, brain injuries, and brain inflammation.
It might help boost a damaged ego, deal with hard times, or help deflect from tragedy and a bad situation. Rather than fall into a manic episode, the brain pushes them into the opposite direction. In those instances, medical professionals have to assess and determine if it’s better to leave the person within their delusional state. If the mind thrusts a person into the delusional state to save it from a psychotic break and bringing them back to reality puts them in a position where they may harm themselves or others, they may be better left alone to their fantasy.
Factors that cause people to experience grandiose delusions range from personal to environmental. Socioeconomic status is one element. For example, some statistics show that rich people who suffer from this type of delusion usually believe they’re a religious deity, superhero or a supernatural entity. Marital status has an effect as well. Single people are more likely to experience grandiose delusions than a married person. They use it as a mechanism to project a life better than what they are truly experiencing.
Those that are more educationally advanced at a Ph.D. level or higher are more like to have grandiose delusions than those with a high school diploma. However, men and women are pretty even on the spectrum. One gender is not more likely to suffer from delusions than the other.
Treatment for grandiose delusions can be tricky. It can be hard to help someone get treatment for a condition that they don’t feel exists. You have to remember the person doesn’t recognize there is a problem at all, and they most likely won’t understand why you don’t believe whatever it is that they are telling you about themselves. They can’t wrap their mind around not being smart, not being rich, not being pretty, not being a princess, or not being Jesus.
If the delusional behavior is the result of an underlying condition, the condition must be treated first. After treatment of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, and delirium, the grandiose delusions may subside altogether. If not then move forward to other methods. If the person attempts to treat the delusions without treating the underlying condition, they will continue to relapse.
Antipsychotics change the neurotransmitters in the brain, reducing or eliminating delusions and hallucinations. Mood stabilizers like lithium work to prevent manic depressive lows.
Therapy sessions with a psychiatrist work for some cases. The patient will have convinced themselves that their belief is the truth and everybody else knows what they’re talking about. They have no sense of what is truth and what is imaginary. The doctor brings rationality and logic; breaking down what is real and what is a fantasy with evidence, in an attempt to try to bring them back to reality. This may not work for everybody, but the method has seen much success in the last few years in certain types of cases.
In cases that involve drug use, or where a person may try to hurt themselves or others, hospitalization is the best treatment.
While a patient experiences withdrawals from drugs, the delusions and hallucinations may intensify, so around the clock care may be necessary. Rehabilitation can be coupled with cognitive behavioral therapy and monitoring of reactions to medications if underlying conditions exist.
Those that suffer from the illness due to environmental causes can change their environment to avoid falling into a psychotic state, such as by moving, getting out of a bad relationship, or changing their lifestyle. Mental health can be a reflection of bad lifestyle choices also, so eating healthier, exercising, meditating, singing, dancing, or drawing can help maintain a healthy well being.
Issues caused by underlying mental health conditions can be prevented by maintaining medications and following strict instructions by doctors. As with any drugs or illness, do not consume alcohol or take other pills with medications.
Maintaining therapy sessions with the doctor until the patient has a handle on reality is important, as is being honest while in sessions, so if there are other underlying issues that may cause a relapse the doctor can address them as well. Those suffering should learn the steps to continue the therapy exercises at home. It’s also important to listen when friends and loved ones reach out to try to bring a sense of reality before the condition gets too far gone and becomes hard to treat.
The old stigma of diseases like schizophrenia don’t exist anymore and it’s important to work to fight and keep those conditions in check. Trips to the psychiatrist are common and encourage you to keep your mind as healthy and fit as your physical body. If you or a loved one suffers from grandiose delusions or any type of psychosis, reach out and go try a therapy session or two. People never know what may push them to the edge. It may be a memory, incident or accident.
Whatever the reason for the occurrence of the disorder doesn’t matter. The important thing is to find the right course of treatment that works and stay on course to prevent a relapse. Falling out of reality is no laughing matter.