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Delusions of Grandeur: How to Spot Them?

  • timeline Ms. Deepanwita Roy
  • 3 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

How to spot delusions of grandeur? Often we hear the term ‘Delusion’ when we talk or read about mental health. We often hear people saying, “You’re being delusional,” “Get out of your delusion.” Many people commonly use these words to express their own or someone else’s experience. However, clinically both are a part of a serious mental health condition called ‘Psychosis’ and may not be as simple as used by laypeople in day-to-day interactions. In psychosis, a person lacks connection with reality, has marked disturbance in personality, is not able to function adequately in social, interpersonal, or occupational life, has poor judgment, and absence of understanding about their own symptoms and abnormal behavior.

Delusions are primarily a disorder of thought in which a person having it usually has one or more false unshakable beliefs that conflict with reality. However, the person is completely convinced that it’s absolutely true. There are a variety of delusions observed in people, and not all delusions are the same. While most delusions involve non-bizarre beliefs that have a possibility of occurring in real life, other kinds may be bizarre, magical, or impossible. Delusions of grandeur are one of the types of delusion in which people have an overinflated sense of self. They strongly believe that they have extraordinary powers, talent, influence, or connections. For example, a person with this delusion may believe that they have extraordinary intelligence, the power to end a war, or a special ability to speak with god.

How to spot delusions of grandeur?

Delusions of Grandeur can be difficult to identify because the person having them believes the delusion to be true. Also, delusions can be hard to distinguish from what is called an ‘overvalued idea,’ or a belief a person has that isn’t totally accurate but isn’t exactly a delusion, either. 

For example, gambling: if a person is a regular gambler, they probably believe they have an ability that allows them to win. But this is generally not considered a delusion of grandeur. The key difference for identification is to learn that their beliefs are tied to their actions. A person who regularly gambles believes he is close to winning, even if he’s not, isn’t necessarily delusional. 

On the other hand, a delusion is usually not related to anything happening in life at the moment. A delusion of grandeur would be more like a belief you can fly or that you are secretly the star of a reality TV show. A delusion of grandeur is easier to spot if it occurs with other mental health symptoms. Delusions of grandeur are more common with psychosis (also often known as Schizophrenia), bipolar disorders, and narcissistic personality disorders. If a person has a history of bipolar disorder and has had delusional thoughts in the past, delusions are more likely to happen again. In some cases, delusions can also be brought on or intensified by the use of substances such as alcohol or marijuana.

Also, it’s important to keep a watch for the effects the belief (or the delusion) has on the person’s life. If the false belief is so great that it has changed how the person lives life or performs daily activities, it could be a delusion.

Diagnosis and treatment

Delusions are clinically complex symptoms of psychosis and are often seen in personality disorders too (such as narcissistic personality disorder) which can only be diagnosed by trained mental health professionals. Often, a perceived threat connected to reality may be mistaken as a delusion. Hence it’s advisable to avoid self-diagnosis in all circumstances. 

Treatment of delusions involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. While medication is more effective in treating delusions, psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are more effective treatment options for delusions. Non-judgmental acceptance & family support have also been proven to be helpful and effective in treating delusions.

It is okay if you or your loved one have been struggling with your mental health. There is help available! For medications, reach out to a psychiatrist and for behavioral (action) interventions, reach out to a psychotherapist.

Consult a psychiatrist now!

Read more on delusion vs hallucination and Depression in Indians.

 

Consultant Clinical Psychologist (RCI Registered ) at MFine with 7+ years of clinical experience. Prefer a holistic approach in therapeutic practices using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based interventions. My interest areas lie in managing stress, anxiety, depression, sleep problems & providing care & support to the LGBTQIA+ community. Apart from providing regular online consultations, I take interest in writing content related to mental health, engage in conducting webinars for EAP programs and work on research and development.

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