When someone is said to have a god complex, it typically means that he or she is extremely arrogant, might consider himself or herself to be infallible and might try to control or manipulate other people. This slang term essentially suggests that the person behaves as though he or she is a god. The term might be used colloquially to refer to people who behave as though they are superior to other people and demonstrate little empathy and compassion for others. Although "god complex" is not a medical term and is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it is sometimes associated with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
There is no specific definition of the term "god complex," but there are certain characteristics that are common in people who are said to have this. These characteristics include arrogance, bullying or manipulating others, being judgmental and believing that he or she is never wrong. Someone who has a god complex might also be prone to becoming angry when things do not go his or her way, might be poor at interpersonal communication and might not be receptive to criticism. He or she also might try to exert a great deal of influence in various matters or relish having power, authority or control. Many people exhibit some of these characteristics in certain situations, even if they would not be said to have god complexes.
More Common in Some Professions
People in certain professions are often accused of having god complexes. Among the most common are doctors, surgeons, politicians and managers. Many such professions require a great deal of knowledge or skill and involve having influence or authority over other people. In many cases, people will develop god complexes only after obtaining power, perhaps giving credence to the old saying "power corrupts."
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Although narcissistic personality disorder is not the same as a god complex, there are some similarities. Among the characteristics of NPD are an overinflated view of one's self, a lack of empathy toward others and reacting angrily to criticism. A person who has NPD might also become jealous easily and might take advantage of other people.
Despite the ways that people who have god complexes or NPD behave, many psychoanalysts believe that they actually have very fragile and delicate self-esteems, drawing their self-esteems from the approval and attention of others. This sensitivity might be what drives them to behave callously, because when they feel threatened or marginalized, they might lash out. It also might be difficult for people to recognize that they have god complexes, and they might interpret such suggestions as criticisms that are designed to undermine them rather than to help them.