What Are Grandiose Delusions?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2014
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Grandiose delusions are beliefs a person holds that would mean he or she is somehow better or more important than anybody else, where in reality it isn’t true. Many different types of grandiose delusions exist, and despite their diversity, they all stem from a dissociation with reality. A man could have grandiose delusions, for example, if he believes that other people talk about or pay special attention to him. This belief could be related to an inability to interpret social signals correctly, or it could be massively delusional — for example, if he believes he holds some mystical power over others. Often, grandiose delusions could be a symptom of a wider psychotic disorder or episode.

The most basic definition of grandiose delusions is that they refer to any belief unfounded in reality or likelihood that makes the person holding them believes he or she is in some or all ways better than everybody else. A person could believe that he is a genius or has the power to read other people’s thoughts. This could also manifest itself as a belief that some kind of higher power thinks that he is important, or has presented him with a special mission or ability. Some grandiose delusions are simply based on the misinterpretation of social cues: for example, the belief that a person is being stalked because he happens to live and work in the same area as another person.


Social cues can be picked up and interpreted correctly by most people. For example, if a man were to spark up a conversation with a woman about her life, the average woman would take this as a general interest or friendliness. A woman suffering from grandiose delusions may take this to mean that the man is actually in love with her. This is because the woman has an inflated sense of her own importance, and may have trouble believing that the conversation isn’t related to the fact that she is special.

Not all grandiose delusions are so simple or easily understood. Some people can believe wild things that have no basis in reality. For example, a person might believe that he or she has the ability to contact or revive the dead, or that he or she is in charge of a country. These types of grandiose delusions rarely have any basis in reality, and can be thought of as a more serious psychological problems for that reason.

People who frequently believe things that aren’t true are often suffering some classified mental illness. For example, grandiose delusions are a symptom of schizophrenia, alongside other things such as an inability to focus attention and mood swings. As well as this, delusions of grandeur could also be a symptom of a psychotic episode. This is essentially when a person loses grip on his or her sanity for a short period of time.


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