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FireMadeFlesh's avatar

What makes delusions of grandeur so convincing?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16548points) September 16th, 2010

Delusions of grandeur seem particularly convincing, but I cannot work out why. It seems natural to privilege your own point of view, but how does that translate into believing you are better than other people? Surely a simple observation of the people around you would be enough to show that no one enjoys such a position.

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10 Answers

MissA's avatar

A lot of people just want to believe.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Usually, bad brain chemistry is involved. Nothing a little lithium won’t fix.

Trillian's avatar

Lots of people lack critical thinking skills. I believe it amounts to intellectual laziness. And lots of people are empty. As in, spiritually hungry. This is how men like David Koresh and Jim Jones got so many pople to follow them into their own destruction.

Cruiser's avatar

A really good cologne!

Ben_Dover's avatar

Often it is the effects of the ganja.

Flavio's avatar

you can be high on yourself, that’s normal. Grandiose delusions are not normal. For example, a non-skier or a novice skier who attempts a very difficult slope because he feels he is an olympic skier. This is a gradiose delusion. Another example would be a patient who is brought in the psych er who threatens to shut down the hospital because she is Obama’s lover. Beliefs are only delusional if they are completely out of the range of plausibility in that person’s context or culture. Delusions are fixed false beliefs.

Nially_Bob's avatar

My foremost guess would be that they quite simply appeal to our most basic nature. Judging by animal observation it seems evident that on some level almost all creatures have a desire to be powerful, one could almost deem it to be one of the few traits that’s looked upon universally as positive. Delusions of grandeur fulfill this desire when there is little else to do so and/or when the individual in question has an atypically large need for it, perhaps as a result of upbringing or other factors relating to them on a personal level.

da ganja*

zophu's avatar

When one’s sense of one’s value (or one’s existence) is dependent upon the delusions that indicate they are better than they actually are, that’s about as convincing as anything can be.


People depend upon delusions in perception. There’s less contention when delusions are shared so that is usually the goal, but that doesn’t mean they should always be shared. You imply that majority determines what isn’t better. That is just as much a delusion as the delusions the paranoid homeless man uses to defend his grandiose perception. The majority is wrong all the time, and the perception of the majority is wrong all the time, even in scientific consensus; this is evident in our shared delusions of history.

There’s no reason to believe that grandiose stances are naturally unjustified. It’s funny how grandiose perceptions of authority, (whether king, god or majority,) are so socially acceptable, but grandiose perceptions of one’s self (or one’s group) are so condemnable. Both are equally delusional but the latter is more empowering to perception and so more naturally useful. It’s probably mostly in rebellion to the former the latter even exists, come to think about it.

If someone is incapable of bringing their views that conflict with the perceived majority’s (authority’s) views to the surface, delusions of grandeur is a way to defend those views within themselves. It’s not so much an illness as it is an adaptation to an illness. (Except when the term is used clinically, where I’m pretty sure you can just call it an illness; I mean, when janitors turned super-spies are involved. But even that seems related.)

Almost all people seem to give in to ideas of grand authorities on one level or another. Those who don’t must either have the constant resources necessary to deconstruct the notions of authority, or sever their minds in order to contain them. The more powerful the authority they must escape, the more powerful their separation from the authority must be.

If the authority is people in general it might only make sense for one to believe they know better than generally everyone on specific points they have significant confidence in. This, like you implied in your description, is understandable. I think the egotistical version of this happens when “generally everyone” becomes absolutely everyone and the point of contention becomes one’s very existence that has somehow grown to seem dependent upon believing oneself to be better as a whole than everyone else. It can be useful, in the perceptions it allows, but it’s not sustainable. Like dreams.

rts486's avatar

Because it’s easier for them to believe that instead of the truth.

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