THE MEGALOMANIAC TRAITS OF PERSONALITY:
personality disorder, psychotic delusion or what?
An ethological interpretation.
In the following essay the author will describe the feeling, thinking and acting ways of some people, that disturb their socio-cultural fitting without compromising too much it. These doing ways are manifested in several behavioral patterns, but the author think that have a common megalomaniac “core” characterizing them in repeated, excessive and pervasive ways that he will try to describe and explain by an ethological viewpoint. The method of analysis that he will use will be predominantly psychoclinic.
In a clinical-descriptive diagram diversified into x- and y-axis you can consider that “core” a long part of the horizontal spectrum of Personality Disorders and a low part of the vertical spectrum of Delusional Disorders.
These doing ways wasn’t provided as a separate Personality Disorder in the DD. SS. MM. The author hopes that this work will be useful for conceptual purposes or for facilitate the diagnostic work and communication between Psychiatrists, Forensic Medicine and Insurance Experts, including Judges and Criminologists and Psychologists.
The author thinks on the people who narcissistically experience “a priori” themselves as more able than other people in the fields of activity where they are involved and who develop the convictions to be more skilled, powerful, higher, better than others or therefore sources of reason, science, justice, morality, etc. Their feelings of superiority are “a priori” in the sense that it do not arise from some comparison with other people or from outcomes of studies recognized by scientific communities, but it’s autogenic and egosyntonic. The “normal” people can think in similar ways, but after having found some evidences in the reality only. The Psychotics can experience themselves even as kings or the Messiah in absolute, unshakable, delirious ways. The megalomaniacs here mentioned feel their superiority inwardly and show their thought outwardly mostly when they confront ideally or personally someone and / or are in front of an audience. In these situations, except in front to the people sharing exactly their ideas, they self-excite and feel entitled to attack the others, to have the last word on everything they discuss, to excel and to impose their ideas.
They tend to enter into competition with recognized leaders or those that they perceive as potentials ones in the human environments where they are involved, tend to annihilate them psychologically as such in front to bystanders and to show that. They can attack also entire categories especially of colleagues (for example, politicians, economists, artists, doctors, etc., categories of activities where there are margins of discretion) and, to show that the others members are all imbeciles men and that they only are the wise, attack the thoughts or/and the “modus operandi” more shared and, to stand out, they adhere or invent alternatives. When they enter new human environments, it is time to identify the local leaders and to evaluate their points of attack and they come into conflict with them also. The same happens if in the scene in which they are already entered new individuals who propose themselves or that they perceive as possible leaders. They try to overwhelm them by nullifying them psychologically verbally, but they can also try to eliminate them physically as happens to certain mafia bosses. In so doing they perform in front of the other bystanders or sub-groups of which they belong, for the hidden purpose of disqualifying them in their eyes and save themselves as dominators or taking their place and being the only dominators in the concrete or conceptual environment.
Really, they give dogmatic judgments on intellectual knowledge, situations, events and people even when they have insufficient real ability to do so, because they feel can better understand than others regardless of that or think that they know already what is sufficient to do so. They also feel a strong, exhibitionistic and compelling impulses to say what they think of all the audience or the whole world, even before to acknowledge and validate it, in order to impose on others their order, justice, peace or their new “revolutionary scientific discoveries” even against any opponent that they tend to establish or manage as “malicieus” or “selfishner” or “ignorant” in front to other people.
When they express an idea or a theory or have a social or political or religious position don’t change it even in face of opposite arguments, both for the absolute value that they give to it and because they base their credibility and social or professional success on it. If it is attacked by others people they don’t perceive their own possible errors and seek rather more attachment points of the ideas, theories or positions of opponents. Unlike the Psychotics they can review or limit the show of their own ideas if they are contradicted by very big real evidences or are rejected “by popular acclaim” only. Until then they try to impose their theses up to almost “quantistically” change the reality!
At the purpose to impose their ideas on others people they can recur to rationalizations or simplifications or intellectualizations or superficial or fanciful or generic analysis of reality or slogans or jokes or sarcasm or irony or verbalisms or bombastic phrases borrowed from great people or raise the voice or use offensive or humiliating words if they are particularly aggressive or appear to others as little angels or shamelessly or violently in order to compete and win over any opponent; always acting with lack or shortage of tact. They think that by their verbal ability can to manipulate the other people. But usually they abuse in do that and in long times fall into gross mistakes and are ridiculed.
Because their “enlightening”, “precious”, “original”, “strong” and exhibited “truths” they expect to be thanked, admired and revered by others. They expect even that others accept their “inferior status” towards them and, in the bottom of themselves, that feel the guilty because “exist” and “occupy a space in the World” or “hinder” their passage!
In their private life (with their friends) and in the free professional activity (with their clients) they prefer meet the people with a lower intellectual level than their own or people needy helpers to whom they can more easily impose their ideas and from whom they can more easily to be acclaimed and to accepted as leaders. They usually avoid the different people with whom very easily and without hesitation come into conflict as it does, for example, in work with the colleagues and especially with the superiors, in family with parents and brothers and in other communities. In not selected settings (work, prison, school, etc.) they can intervene unduly in discussions and situations although it does not interest directly them: at the beginning with cautious ways, for be not immediately rejected by others in their ranks, and at the end also giving scathing and sometimes aggressive judgments even if not required them.
Their superiority feelings and consequently convictions arise in their mind does not lonely but integrated into a system-ideas, more or less well systematized according to their cognitive abilities and culture, which usually stems since their pre-adolescence or adolescence and that they will keep for a lifetime, dissolving partially in old age only. But they, at the time, can come up with new interpretations of reality or new arguments or theories, always “pro domo sua”, to take new positions, still in order to combat leadership competitors and excel in the field. At the same goal, if they change their needs or change the actors or the spectators on the scenes they can become even advocates of the thesis or theories, judgments or interpretations opposite to these previously incurred. They feel qualified to do so without shame because a sort of “divine right” coming them from their superiority or merits!
When they don’t have an initial success in attempting to impose their truths, they can resort to rewording their explanations, theses, and theories by compromising the facts presented by others, still in any case in order to impose their ideas, that’s themselves. If they don’t succeed even in such an attempt or alternatively they can also consciously, instrumentally and fraudulently resort to forcing the truths or to manipulate the other’s perceptions of reality, always for the before wrote “divine right” or merits and without feeling of guilty of their unethical conduct and perceiving and presenting their opponents as “criminals” or “blasphemers”. We say in Italy: “They wish fall always standing up!”.
Even when they talk and act decisively for some idea or somebody they think (or falsely claim, when they are struggling to assert themselves) to do so for altruistic variously rationalized or intellectualized purposes. But in this case also a thorough analysis can detect that, really, they always tend to impose themselves and their domain on others people, many times against some “leaders” present in the scene. This happens even when they think (or say instrumentally) to act in the interests of justice, honesty or science. Even when they defend someone, in fact, if you take heed, they act against some other “leader” perceived and presented at the audience as “bad” or “false” or “wrong” and therefore worthy of being “removed”, “kicked”, “eliminated”, implicitly proposing themselves in his or her place. At such ends, sometimes, they come even to auto-attribute responsibilities or representations of others, always to enter the scene and impose themselves.
What they feel, think and do with confidence and determination is independent of their actual internal factors support like the real wealth of knowledge and skills acquired or innate potential wealth of cognitive abilities and also from external causes as the success in what they set: that’s autogenous and self-referential. Obviously, when some of these factors are acting reinforces their feelings, beliefs and assumptions: for example, a high verbal intelligence, good technical skills or a broad education.
Their passion and assertiveness can be so much that arouse admiration in other people, can instill trust and hope and do them look like true “leaders”, at least initially, especially in the people who are psychologically weaker or culturally poor, as wrote before. Other times they are so determined and certain that don’t realize that their exhibited “truths” are too conflicting with reality to be accepted. That last is the why usually, sooner or later, they are “discovered” even by the non-experts in psychology or psychiatry or criminology and are abandoned or ridiculed. In Italy we had many examples of politicians so characterized that managed initially to establish themselves to whole peoples and that ended very poorly: from Benito Mussolini to many other modern “leaders” of parties and movements.
Their inner compelling impulses to say what they think about on any idea, event, behavior, people, situation and even object and, sometimes, to intervene concretely, in arrogant or presumptuous or hyper-critical or even violent ways, is compulsive. They think that their impulses to say and intervene depend on their free discernment, generosity or heroism and aren’t aware of its compulsiveness. That shows a different origin of their presumed own free will.
They don’t have never the awareness that they are instinctively attracted by a conference in front whom exhibit themselves nor that they are excited and attracted by the “leaders” present in the scene to compete and struggle with them and try to annihilate them as their “prey”. Not only that. If you follow their life stories you can find that, after having ousted the old “leaders” and having occupied their power positions, on the basis of principled ideas before claimed, after an initial time when they act according to their showed ideas, when they begin to exert a concrete influence on the human environment, they start to pursue tangible personal purposes, feeling themselves entitled to do so because have liberated the camp from the previous “bad” or “ignorant leaders” or just by the merits arising them from their actions. That’s, after they have toke the initial relational benefits or pure power, they begin also to exploit the others people in terms of services, money, property, labor, sex, food, etc. Think on what many dictators and politicians do after they have achieved power and what many gurus, leaders of religious sects and wizards do after they have gained the trust of their faithful. .
They can act on behalf of those they perceive as weak or poor, but they then, in facts, use them unknowingly like “mirrors” on which to reflect their self-exalting and powering superiority, greatness, magnificence and magnanimity feelings. You can also notice that even their verbal activity, after an initial time, especially in adolescence, usually, it prevails over the physical, because their most profound aspiration is to dominate and be revered and served without work too! They think to can dominate and control the world by the words that they use as a sort of “smokescreens” to cover their needs and selfish interests!
Because of they think to have the exclusive possess of the truth, they are surprised and get annoyed if someone oppose and become hostile to them. Then they try to annihilate him and if they fail and / or the group chose another “leader” they leave the scene and look for another group where try to create the conditions to be the only rulers. If they act inner a group or a political party or even a whole country and think or say to do so in the interest of the same group, party or country they don’t end their destructive action of all “competitors” until they destroy all them and until in the group will be only admirers for them. If they don’t achieve these conditions, continue to attack the other members until they destroy the group, the party or the country itself! Even the recent history teach on this subject. That happens because, although they claim to act in the name of ideal values or in the interest of the group itself, in facts, they pursue one’s own interests, not certainly the collective.
That’s comparable to some “normal” people ways of thinking and doing. Think on many powerful economic-men or politic-men or even certain fathers who get annoyed when they don’t feel obeyed, respected or seconded by their subordinates or children, but wounded in their pride: the firsts try to eliminate their competitors and the seconds try to bring their children to obedience.
Differently, the true idealists people can fight for their ideas or group or represented or defended people until to give their own life!
You can find all the upper described thinking, feeling and doing ways, in less marked and manipulating ways, in the “normal people” for the evident aim of securing themselves a better survival living conditions trying to exploit an environment. You can also find that even the “normal people”, who are not masochistic, can be agree to be dominated by someone that perceive as stronger towards them in exchange for protection and safety; therefore, always for some survival purpose.
You can think even on the conception of the people on the acceptability, changeability and capriciousness of the gods to be revered, honored and ingratiate for receive some benefit from them. In the same logic, but in the side of the goods, such megalomaniacs expect to be revered and flattered, to have everything they need and want and to be even served by others people without having any obligation towards them; i.e., they expect to be almost venerated. Unlike them, the Psychotics expect to be worshiped and revered as true gods!
This author thinks that every idea of justice or fairness or politic or culture or science that such megalomaniacs firmly believe (not those used by them to steer consciously the rivals) and that they exhibit and claim it’s really useful to them primarily to exalt themselves and gain psychophysical energies for fight all competitors; secondarily to legitimize the attack on competitors; third to impose themselves in the human environment and at the end to can satisfy their concrete needs.
You can find a cinematographic synthesis of what the author writes here, in the film “Kis uykusu” (“Winter Sleep”, in English language, or “Il regno d’inverno”, in Italian), by the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, “Palme d’or” to the Festival de Cannes in 2014, based on the novel Жена (“My wife”, in English, or “Mia moglie”, in Italian), written by Anton Cechov, in the description by the idealist and a little fanciful Nihal of the character of her husband Aydin.
This author thinks also that the ideas based on ideal principles that they exhibit, especially by words by which they are usually very skilled, are useful them to: 1) self-exaltation; 2) establish itself in the environment where they live and, simultaneously, 3) deny unconsciously to themselves, before than others, their guilty conscience. In other words, you could say that they are like mud that tries to rise morally and socially self-clinging, exhibiting and instrumentally using noble ideas!
This author hypothesizes that what is described above, at a deeper level, is primarily determined by a biological instinctive strategy for survival, similar to that of many animals, consisting in humans in seeking a human territory (some people more easy to subordinate) that is functional to their needs after had shown the “intellectual muscles” (the power of their ideas by they try to impose their domain) to be aggressively used versus any competitors in the same environment to drive them out of the human territory and remain the only rulers.
In facts, differently than “normal people”, their relations and the exchange of ideas with other people are never peaceful, open to dialogue, aimed at achieving a shared truth; but conflicting, tense, almost intimidating, sometimes threatening and infused with verbal when not even physical aggression, because consist mainly in verbal explicit or implicit attacks on the ideas of competitors, i. e. on their persons. The analyzes of reality are always done with such conviction and intellectual passion or even with such emotion and assertiveness that leaked that there are other reasons involved other than that stated from them that underlie their behavior. A careful analysis of their histories (the author has could analyze them in long times in prison and re-education institutes where he worked other than in the Psychiatry or Psychology Services where it is more difficult to meet such megalomaniacs) shows that these reasons initially consist in imposing their rule with the exhibited ideas and at the end to satisfy their concrete needs and desires.
The author observed the same phenomena also in social life: in some people working in more or less convinced ways for the purpose of protecting weaker people (see some militants of the political left) or giving wellbeing to others (see some pseudo-doctors) or spiritual purposes (see some religious leaders). Extreme examples of that ones are certain mafia bosses who exercise in Southern Italy their social influence, ostensibly to help people by an exhibited “benevolence” and “protection”, to show themselves as most benevolent and protective than the Italian State, be preferred to It, so dominate in their environment and after derive concrete benefits (money) for themselves. *
Such megalomaniacs intellectualize or rationalize their behavior to “moral duty” (i. e, a “quasi-mission”) or for their alleged “superiority” (i.e, a “quasi-omnipotence”). The Psychotics justify themselves in their delusional absolute feelings of “divine mission” or “omnipotence”. Therefor such megalomaniacs expect that the “spectators” accept their superiority, but don’t reach the levels of the psychotic delusions as, for example, in the case of the novel “Napoleon”, the “sons of emperors” or the “Presidents of U.S. A.”.
In psychodynamic analysis their descriptions of reality appear partly distorted, in instinctive or voluntary and conscious but always manipulators ways; not in bizarre ways as the Schizophrenics, but in mystifying ones that lead to their subjective truth that are quite functional to satisfy their instinctive, aggressive or erotic rulers.
With regard to their capacity of self-analysis they are not aware of their personality. They can develop a little partial awareness only if they have said or done something of very detached or disproportionate from reality and someone who is not one of their competitors does it to him note in a not-serious way. They are able to analyze the external reality more objectively, within the limits of their developed skills and acquired skills of course, only when they are calm and not involved, directly or indirectly, in domain issues of ideas or behaviors. But, their cultural and, in part, reality fitting is usually disturbed and dysfunctional for them and/or for those who are associated with them, because usually the human relations are involved in interpersonal relationships.
Example 1. One of them with the Opponent-Provocateur Secondary Disorder imposed to his original family of the South Italy to accept and appreciate a very sexy girl who, according to the local socio-cultural criteria, was not good from the moral and cultural viewpoint. He however extolled the personal qualities and demanded that the others did the same. Not only, he was egging her and other women of his acquaintance to “break free from the sexist yoke” to emancipate themselves, so performing himself as a champion of modernity, civilization and justice. He married her and left her free to meet anyone who she wanted. After some years he discovered that she was cheating on him and that one of his children was not biologically his son. Enraged because wounded in his narcissism he asked the legal divorce and charge on her the guilt. With her poor cultural means she tried to defend herself hypocritically giving to him the sins of his betrayal, both to save her social image abundantly compromised and to increase as much as possible what the judge would have awarded in money that he, according to Italian laws, had along with the house dwelling, to live with their minor children. Swaggering, he in Court, said: “As long as you leave, I’ll give you twice!”. She, well pleased to grab that extra money, stopped to playing the part of the victim and very soon accepted. Then he understood her game and added immediately: “… but I withdrawal the request for divorce and we remain separated in fact!”. The practical results for her was that she had the house and double the money asked and, moreover, she could more freely live her libertine life; the “wow” results for him was that, according to his twisted mental logic, he imposed his ideas, i.e. himself, both before and after, although in contrasting ways!
In the case above described the megalomaniac led to outcomes in counterproductive ways for himself concretely. In the other cases such megalomaniacs can be dangerous for their “followers” that are by them ideally or /and materially exploited. That happens over all with people more ignorant or deficient or psychologically weakened by the anxiety who all have less capacity to good discern the reality. You can think on many magicians, gurus, pseudo-politicians, pseudo-healers, etc., especially in less-developed countries, where they can exploit better the people credulity, to impose ideas and practices that create on the basis of approximate knowledge or basic ethical but general principles or scientific or technical or other kind to which they cling and develop in very personal ways, functional to their ambitions.
Such megalomaniacs feel similar feelings and beliefs even for their own children, friends, “partners” affective or in business or in political and, in a lesser extent, to the people related to those who are for them all a sort of psychic “extensions” of their own personality, for whom they expect and, at times, claim from the other people the same obsequiousness and reverence that they expect for themselves. I.e. they think and feel what are similar to what you can find in the projections in fantasy of Ancient Greeks on the Gods on Olympus family life, but, once again, to parts reversed.
When they or their “extensions” undergo failures they can derailed in paranoid areas and shift on the other people the responsibility, attributing hostile intent against them and becoming aggressive toward them. If the failures are severe or prolonged they can develop franc psychotic accesses usually transient. One of them developed a delirium of poisoning. They don’t realize that tend to interpret and that the hostility that they perceive against them, in facts, is the result of the projection of their own instinctive hostility toward who oppose their designs. Nor do they realize that their failures depend, fundamentally, by their excessive or inadequate claims, compared to an objective examination of reality. They aren’t even aware that their aggressive reaction is responsive to their frustrations not a “legitimate punishment” of those who oppose them!
After some paranoid accesses they tend usually to return to their usual personality structure. Others remain in stable “paranoid niches” and conserve in all other spheres of social life a good or enough adaptation.
Example 2. A politician of Sicily, in private, felt himself superior and was hyper-critical towards all whom he considered the “zeros!”. In public he acted for left-wing political ideals proclaimed that he seemed to believe strongly and, thanks to its high verbal intelligence and with his exhibitionist tendencies, he talks on religion, politics, economy and philosophy, even if he did not have sufficient knowledge, and he so annihilated the political opponents and charmed his “followers”, proved captivating and collected a good electoral success. Thanks to this success, he occupied in society positions of power that, after, in facts, he used to obtain concrete benefits for himself, his family and friends, and justified that precisely with judging others inferior and, therefore, as such, worthy of being exploited. He had no real empathic relationship with anyone, not even with his family; only intellectuals. With priests, doctors, policewomen, male and female judges he could not have even intellectual relations, because he had a total distrust of them and avoided them. In talks held with him the author has only been able to assume, without having a consensus on his part, that the exercise of power by those people from their within coats, dresses, tunics and uniforms made ambiguous them to his eyes and stimulated his distrust. The author don’t found in his personal history, which was for him satisfactory and successful, psychological factors tied into relationships of cause and effect with his chronic mistrust.
Such megalomaniacs magnify with rationalizations or intellectualization not only their ideas but even all that concerns themselves directly (things, people, cars, clothes, houses, etc.) or that concerns their “extensions”.
Example 3. The daughter of a megalomaniac who lived in a an “entourage” of graduates, while she was not-disposed to studies, obtained a modest dressmaking certificate for high fashion and he introduced that to his family and friends as a “bachelor”, after self-convinced it was worth a university degree and, of course, that she would have gained a great reputation. Then, when one of her boyfriends obtained a simple certificate of a forklift driving, he introduced him as a “diplomat”!
For them and their “extensions” they plan grandiose projects that often do not are successful because most of the time are unrealistic. In such cases, as already mentioned, they think that are victims of conspiracies or evil by other people, become aggressive toward them and hostile to those who don’t share their persecutory interpretations of the facts. If those “extensions” disappoint them they stand apart emotionally, intellectually and economically from them, disqualify or despise them and expect that others to do the same on the basis of reasons given by them. If they decide to restore the initial relationship return to exalt them and, again, they expect that others people to do the same otherwise they become hostile (expectations of uncritical sharing from others, that underlying their psychological subjection).
Example 4. One of them changed often business associates and expected that friends and relatives hail and reverenced them, even when there were not objective reasons for doing so. When they break some relation they begin to discredit and expected by the other that shares their decisions and behaviors. If he decided to restore the relations they expected that others approve and attacked them if they did not, because the “simple reason” that his decisions were always the right!
The tendency to exercise power over others and a domain on a territory is instinctive in almost all living beings belonging to the upper steps of Phylogenetic Scale and functional to survival. The “logic” of this instinct is to optimize the exploitation of resources available in the territory (In the case of humans: the material possessions, social positions, money, skills, sex, etc. of the people) as a function of their needs. In dominant animal that instinct manifests itself above all in the tendency to optimize the exploitation of the food resources and sex. In the human people obviously that phenomenon is more complex.
As already written before, the author hypothesizes that such megalomaniac traits of personality depend on a hyper-development of that instinct. In facts such megalomaniacs if decide, for example, of political deal lined up in opposition to those in power in local field or even international (against the Germans, the Americans, etc.); if the medicine, are hostile to the hospital primary or will address to alternative medicines; if psychology, denigrate the heads of school (S. Freud, M. Klein, etc.) or self-exalting fanatically adhering to their theories, almost to replace them, always to impose themselves in the area where they operate and, at the same time, cure their concrete interests.
At the same time such megalomaniacs don’t wish detach physically and mentally from their “territories” in similar ways as the male rulers of many animal species that not survive physically long time outside from their hunting grounds and sexual coupling. The diversity lies in the fact that in the animals the behavior is determined, primarily, by the biological factors and, secondarily, by the cultural ones; in such megalomaniacs the biological factors are more integrated than animals with the psychological ones (emotional, affective and cognitive) and situational, but less than in “normal people”.
Etiological affective and emotional factors different from these described above (anxiety for feelings of inferiority and inner insecurity) are acting in neurotics who eagerly criticize or judge others or give lessons on certain aspects of life or of reality and perform, for hyper-compensators unconscious purposes.
An high self-esteem and an high mood are useful to all human beings to carry on the struggle for survival. In those megalomaniacs such functions are hyper-developed and occur with an high self-esteem arising from their feeling of superiority as self-exaltation.
Example 5. A policeman worked in a police station that could not fit a known dangerous Sicilian mafia. He felt himself superior to his colleagues and not spared criticism even the work of his superiors. To show them that he was able to immediately solve the problem of that mafia phoned and challenged him, at night, in plain clothes, alone, in a public square. The mafia did not turn up and the self-esteem of policeman came out strongly reinforced.
Seventeen years of experience as one of the Expert in Psychology and Criminology of the former Italian Ministry of Justice of the author suggests him that the mafia, probably, did not show up, because he feared that it was a trap agreed with Police Station to frame him or why he thought that if he had killed the policeman he would have finally given the Police a chance to catch him; not certain for a personal afraid of him! After the policeman was transferred and, of course, he thought that the disciplinary action was taken out for envy and hostility to him.
Convinced on the rightness of their ideas and the adequacy of their projects such megalomaniacs participate in person and tend to induce their “extensions” to keep lifestyles consistent with those ideas and projects; sometimes, in severe ways in terms of financial commitment, physical, mental or intellectual perseverance. As a result of repeated failures they can destabilize and to encounter transient lowering of mood. In the sudden or numerous successes, they can experience increase of mood without reaching the mania itself. In both cases, after some time, usually, they return within their typical structure of personality.
The author think that the hyper-developed instinct of dominance excites psychologically such megalomaniacs and induce in them self-exaltation and feelings of superiority, direct the activity of their brain on the direction of an urgent instinctual satisfaction and decrease, consequently, its rational activity resulting distorted even their potential critical abilities of reality and even their own self-control so that their behaviors result usually, in the long time, dysfunctional to the purpose of survival. That’s the why: 1) they express their ideas and theories in lesser, simplified and hasty ways, in confront to their own abilities and not in some high technical ways as well as the not-megalomaniac specialists; 2) they aren’t aware that their ideas about reality and, in particular, about others people are distorted by that process; 3) they aren’t aware on their fallibility and partiality and 4) their consequent behaviors are many times too aggressive or tactless. That’s the why even that 5) their consequent behaviors are, above all, based on partial truths or little scientific knowledge or moral principles easily shared but generic and vague or, sometimes, on entirely personal childish ideas to which they give absolute values overtime in convincing ways up on which they built their theories. On the bases of these premises, 6) they discredit or criminalize and attack their competitors that they perceive and convincingly hurt as “wrongdoers” or “bad” people in equally arbitrary and usually unfounded and without awareness ways.
They are not aware of the biologic origin of that process that is ego-syntonic and self-rewarding. They are aware of their behavior disparaging the others and challenging the leaders present in the scene. For some sadistic or sexual aspects of it, too degrading and reprehensible according to common morality, they resort to various defense mechanisms from anxiety already seen before.
When they discover that they are unprepared or in a too straight line with reality, 7) they do not hesitate, even in conscious and awareness ways, to reformulate their ideas or to review their behaviors or to attempt to manipulate others’ perceptions of reality always in order to continue to impose themselves, for their unshakable belief that they are, however, the most capable or the best and, as such, deserving to dominate and have what they want or need. 8) They don’t have even the awareness that their behaviors are destroying their interpersonal relationships, both because they are too discrediting and aggressive, even when they say that they act for altruistic goals or for the interests of the groups where they operate; except the relationship with those who accept them as “leaders” and in facts submit themselves to them.
Such megalomaniacs when are upset give the image of superiority of himself and remain self-controlled, joking, serene, mature, rational, detached, balanced, top quality or they use slogan or a language persuasive or aggressive or vehement or they are conceited or sarcastic. Only in private they do “outing” of their budget contempt of all those who are their “competitors” or, simply, who aren’t their “followers”. They don’t experience feelings of guilt either because the “simple why” that they feel themselves as always right and never wrong and because their impulses determine feelings and thoughts of greatness that occupy their entire emotional and intellectual sphere. Even when they are sentenced for riot offenses or fraud or defamation of the institutions or for circumvention of an incapable or criminal association or exchange of votes or bribery they give reasons for their actions and don’t admit mistakes. When they feel hurt their “majesty” they develop hostility and become vengeful. More than deny their misdeeds, as tend to do the Antisocial, they tend to somehow to rationalize or intellectualize starting always from the assumption that their work was the right. Even when themselves or their “extensions” undergo setbacks they don’t feel failure because, as already wrote, “the fault is of others”. They don’t feel never afraid because they “are too wonderful for everyone, for having to be afraid” (used also the defense mechanism of denial: see Example 5).
However, they are not totally inhumane and alienated from the empathetic relations. They can experience feeling of guilt, for example, if they accomplished serious actions against someone who is now dead.
They have a personal immaturity on the bottom (which in various ways characterize all Personality Disorders, due to the structural and functional imbalances of the Neuro-Endocrine System, which don’t allow an harmonious maturation and consequently nor an harmonic and balanced development of the personality) that you can see in their free imaginations or in their privacy only, with their preferred friends and “partners”: then they can show themselves in adolescent or in childish ways. In most part of other cases they placed themselves on a superiority floors also in front to their friends and “partners”, especially towards strangers. That’s the why their emotional relations are never matching with the truth in pubblic.
All of their human relations are almost never authentic and empathic (see Example 2). Even the relations with their “extensions” are held mainly on the basis of the big ideas and plans that cultivate and share. For them don’t exist neither family, but “extensions”, “followers”, “competitors” or “protected-mirrors” only. They have no regard to others people especially to their “competitors” that stigmatize negatively (in fact because they opposed their domain designs) and that, in their opinion, deserve to be not considered.
As it’s written above when such megalomaniacs are troubled by others who point out the not-correspondence of what they said or written with the reality they resort to mystifications of reality itself: they deliberately and consciously occur manipulations convenience of the truth or even to real falsehood. Usually they don’t feel the guilt because are convinced of their ideas. In the other cases they don’t feel guilt either because they feel themselves entitled to do so by perceiving others as “bad” or “inferior” or “wrong” and therefore worthy to be deceived or manipulated. They are also tactless and don’t take into account the other’s sensitivity or the circumstances where they are involved nor the formality either because their impulses prevail over the rational evaluations of the opportunities and they start from assumptions that others are “blasphemous” or “bad” or “ignorant” or “corrupt” and feel them entitled to lack of respect toward them. That’s the why they often don’t maintain even their word or stipulated accords. The Opponents-Provocateurs do that with “authoritative” figures that disqualify or misinterpreted or delegitimize in various ways. Even the Antisocials don’t feel the guilt because they perceive others as “incapable” or “weak” and therefore worthy of being deceived or defrauded. The author hypothesizes that the last, differently than megalomaniacs, if aren’t influenced by some psychological (like the case n. 10) or cultural (like some Gypsies) or neurological (like some people with frontal lobes damaged) factors, they have an hyper-developed predator instinct of survival.
With regard to their own health they care much more their clothing and their dialectic, for showoff, as a weapon to overpower others, than their mental and physical health, because the latest two activities imply the submission to the knowledge and, therefore, to the power of others (doctors, scientists, etc.) that, as we already had seen, go versus their instinctive tendencies!
Except in cases of serious illness, they prefer to do themselves, convinced that they don’t need any help or be able to do better than the doctors or resort to alternative officers healing methods or knowledge.
The use of various possible psychic defense mechanisms by such megalomaniacs, the denial and projection especially, causes them a partial alienation from reality. In facts, they feel a superiority that, as we have seen, empathize them emotionally from others people altering their human relations; that they develop the conviction to be able to can control, manipulate and dominate other people in their own liking, especially with dialectics, and that they develop the underlying conception of a world “malleable” according to their needs and wishes. In “normal” people usually it happens the contrary: the real world, through experience and learning, “builds” their personality, their sense of Self and the knowledge (“culture”) in interacting with their potential hereditary genetic baggage (“ure”). In such megalomaniacs over all in the psychotic megalomaniacs, usually you observe an inversion of such a relationship: they are “determining” their abilities and “building” the world. In this sense, one can speak of “alienation from reality”.
It is a vague term that can be used for all psychic disorders, especially for psychoses. This author thinks that it’s appropriate even to such megalomaniacs, in qualitative rather than quantitative terms. In fact, their alienation from reality manifests itself 1) with their beliefs and their attitude of superiority, both subjective and difficult to reduce; 2) with their truths and dogmatic judgments, equally subjective and difficult to come to reality; 3) both with the consequent alteration of their human coexistence (Mit-sein); 4) with a more general alteration of their existence-in-the-world (Dasein) and 5) with an alteration of their world experience (Erlebnis).
Many of them are magicians, gurus, witches, fortune tellers and pseudo-therapists who believe to have special skills; others of them do the politicians who think they can easily manipulate the electorate by chatter; others psychiatrists, doctors and psychologists who think to follow new methods of investigation and treatment designed from them and don’t comply protocols; or philosophers, teachers, educators and animal breeders who have their questionable visions of educational methods and breeding; or some mafia who think to have the duty to impose their “right order” on socio-cultural environment where they live, for a kind of mission of which they feel invested, even against the laws of the state; or writers and poets or blacksmiths and carpenters who are planning to create true works of literary or art materials; or inventors who patent ideas of a some use, but which in reality are not important and innovative as they think.
Their ideas and behaviors contrast the common sense or the directives of the scientific communities and they live more or less well integrated into the civilian societies without having to resort to the use of psychotropic drugs, unlike the Psychotic.
Differential diagnosis from some other psychological disorders
All people, even the “normal”, try to create around them an environment where to find safety useful for their psychological, social and physic survival. In those with dominant characteristics of personality that happens in more accentuated, strong, pervasive ways than average of “normal”, in more or less effectiveness and efficiency depending on their capacity, but more rational and realistic and then functional to the purpose of survival than the megalomaniacs. In those last that happens in distorted, excessive, difficult to correct, repeated, culturally transgressive, verbally or physically aggressive and usually dysfunctional ways as illustrated above. Differently to what happens among them the “normal” people exchanges their ideas, can be conflicting, but remaining aware that they can do mistakes and that the others ideas are to be respected. The megalomaniacs, instead, are surprised if others have different ideas from them, don’t use respect and attack “a priori” it. They marvel even if others, after being attacked by them, fight back or get offended them on certain topics of discussion or behaviors. That tendency to excel over others common such Megalomaniacs to Narcissist, Antisocials, Mythomaniacs, Histrionics and other psychologically disordered people.
Some differences lie in the fact that, according to the first, it’s more than sufficient what they feel in themselves; to the fourth it’s necessary resort to tales of alleged participation in fantastic events “mediators” and special that magnify them and make them unique to the ears of others. Both, if aren’t real studious, don’t investigate the reality with shared methods accepted by the relevant scientific community. Both differ from Psychotics to the fact that those latter are more dominated by their delusions and more alienated from reality and their claims and truths are less connected with the reality. That’s the why they can worse control their thoughts, to fit their behaviors and care their interests and undergo further failures. The Megalomaniacs instead tend more actively than Psychotics and Mythomaniacs to create around them a more extensive and concrete stalls of “followers” (the “territory”) where to exercise some kind of domain (political, economic, intellectual, etc.) and after derive real benefits. But, at the time, also they resort to the use of alleged participation to fantastic events, for the purpose aforesaid.
Example 6. A megalomaniac, after initial free-professional successes that exalted psychologically and realized actually him, had a long period of economic failures and, for a compensatory purposes, already convinced of the existence of UFOs, he began to say to have found it (the UFO, at that time, were a subject of great social interest).
Example 7. His brother, however, civil servant, womanizer and pathological liar, told the same experiences of encounters with extra-terrestrials, sentimental adventures non-existent and others.
If such megalomaniacs perceive some competitors in the environment tend to annihilate or remove them from their fields of activity revealing antagonism and antipathy that common them to the Opponents-Provocateurs. The Mythomaniacs, however, are disappointed if others people don’t believe their fantastic tales and try to return to the office with the same or other stories in an attempt to convince the “audience” that they try to dominate exciting and charming by fantastic inventions that exhibit in order to decorate their person, positively or negative, but always in magnificent ways.
Example 8. In criminology are frequent the cases of Mythomaniacs that self-accuse of serious crimes that arouse the public’s interest; not of minor crimes.
For the same why the Megalomaniacs tend to fight the power-men (judges, police, military, religious, teachers) and the socio-cultural rules, including the common sense; especially if they associate traits Opponents-Provocateurs. The Histrionics, unlike them and similarly to Mythomaniacs, try to grasp what are the ways of thinking of others, groped to gratify it and so win their sympathies, similarly to actors in front of spectators who try to transform into “clackers”, overcoming any “competitors” on the plan of the jokes. They are successful in this way in the environments where they are able to achieve what they aspire.
Example 9. The author known a Histrionic that performing in certain ways in keeping with the environment of the Lions Club and in completely different ways in very different environments from the first.
The Megalomaniacs present some aspects of Antisocial Personality Disorder: both tend to oust all of (the former) or the powerful (the second) of their property or of their power. The Antisocials feel of being more physically stronger and smarter than others that they judge “deserving to be exploited or dispossessed” of their material properties by fraud or physical violence, aware that it is illegitimate or illegal. However, the Megalomaniacs believe that they can do it because they are from part of the reason, the just, the good. The Antisocials tend to have more challenging behavior on the physical plane; the Megalomaniacs, more intellectually or even purely verbal.
The Narcissists think and act in similar ways than the Megalomaniacs: they are more focused on the search for perfection, style, scharm and sophistication according to local cultural partners’ canons and feel entitled in perceiving others as “imperfect” to be admired and to dominate in this way.
Unlike the Psychotics, who develop delusions or hallucinations and can integrated in the civil society only with the help of psychiatric care, the Megalomaniacs, because don’t develop mental disorders that alienate them much more from reality, can do it without.
From this viewpoint we could talk of “aborted psychosis” or “psychosis in a nutshell” or “intermediate” between normality and insanity? The hyper-development of domain and aggression instincts cause tendencies to manipulate others and the truth, just to reach the aim to dominate and to derive benefits even resulting socio-cultural and sometimes legal conflicts with other people. This author believes that such disorder is to be classified as Personality Disorders.
When the mental and behavioral frameworks described before are in young people or adults, in acute ways, or in elderly or old life, in contrasting ways with their previous life stories, you can think that it is the effects of chemical or physical trauma or substances psychic, in the first two cases, or dementia or senile involution, in third case.
If you think on their resistance to the cultural pressure, the ego-syntonic of their feelings of superiority, the tendency to impose their pulses on their reason, the usual independence of such feelings from real supportive inner and external cognitive or reality factors, the automatism of their antagonism toward the competitors, the frequent familiarity in stories of their relatives and the not common external situational factors in relation of cause and effect with their behaviors (childhood experiences with authoritarian figures are common to ordinary people), you can think that the megalomaniac traits impregnate the personality in repeated and pervasive ways by a genetic base and constitute a personality disorder when it aren’t a psychosis or a rare case of neurosis as the next example.
Example 10. As already mentioned the author, among his many professional activities, he was one of the Experts in Psychology and Criminology of the Italian State, in Sicily, for the Courts of Appeal of Palermo and Caltanissetta, to relate the Judges Supervisory about the personalities of the detainees who had instances for alternative benefits to the detention. One of them was the son of a mafia boss (life imprisoned in another prison) who had a thick criminal file, for extortion and that, before entering the Gozzini law into force in Italy, he had also organized riots in jail. He entered in his Office with arrogant ways and sure of himself, looking into his eyes in challenging ways. Contrary to the usual behavior of boss mobsters he defiantly admitted all the crimes debited to him and justified himself by saying that the victims “deserved it” and that the Prison Administration “was ill prisoners”.
He came even to beat his fist on the table of the examiner, so obvious demonstration, and he spoke in a loud voice, so obvious that hear who was crossing out of the office door that he had no awe toward the examiner. But during his “performance”, his forehead was drenched in sweat, he was still in his chair and was restless. He boasted of having the city at his feet (after having taken the place of his father: n. o. a.) (demonstration of magnitude) and have “many picciotti (gangsters)” under his command (display of power) “to execute for him what he want” (examiner warning).
In the second interview he presented himself in a less defiant way: sometimes he crossed his arms and in other not-knew where to keep it, sometimes he supported the examiner look and sometimes curved, sometimes it was right on his back and other times curved. These behaviors were all unusual for a mafia boss: his body language was saying different things than verbal. The examiner decided then to administer him the Rorschach Test.
He gave a more answers than the average of prisoners (especially the mafia give very little answers or refuse to submit to the test). Among them he gave the answers “Angels”, “Church”, “Devils”, “Inferno”. Two were ChoF and three FCho. He also had a shock to red followed by a response F+, he took one DBI only and sufficient answers U.
It was clear for the examiner that there was a contrast between his manifested personality and the occult.
During the following talks the examiner tried to get through to them and talk about his life as a child and young. He told that it had been very troubled because of his father treated him harshly and hurts him in his vanity (he considered him “unu smammanicutu ” in Sicilian language; i.e, an individual devoid of backbone, with a weak character, incapable, unworthy of esteem), until he began to do what his father expected from him.
It was easy for the examiner to interpret his style change life and the denial of its original ways of being as an attempt to gain the father’s esteem and heal her wounded narcissism. He accepted and since then stopped definitively exhibit the boss style.
Later he added that he was very regretted the life he had done until then. The examiner believed him but before to draft a report favorable to the Supervisory Judge he wanted to submit him to another practical test. In Sicily only the small offenders agree to do in prison the work for “toilet brush”, which is to clean the floor and collect the requests of other prisonners to have cigarettes or other. Accept it only those whose families are in poor economic conditions, in order to earn something to send at home. In disqualifying ways them are called “scassapagliari” (from burglars haystacks) or “chicken thieves”. The examiner suggested him that job and he accepted it!
The other detainees were incredulous: they did not know whether to despise or think that he simulated his changes, in order to have the benefit to which he aspired. The custodial agents on duty in ”area-talks” reported that, after his above changes, disagreements arose between him and his family who came to visit him in prison. Then the examiner had no more doubt and decided to relate favorably to the Judge.
The latter, amazement also, rejected the request of the detainee, because the social worker and the internal team of the Prison (the Director, the Marshal who cured the order within and the Educator who cared rehabilitative activities) related him all negatively.
Strangely, at the time, the author had the reputation of being “tough” in these Prisons because most of his reports were unfavorable while those of the other members of the internal team were favorable.
On the third try the judge decided to trust him and release the detainee granted day. After his release he began self-cleaning work, did not create problems and the black chronicles not occupied anymore.
It occupied instead about the Director that, a few years later, committed suicide; the Marshal that, after a few more years, was indicted for criminal association, and the Educator who, after more years, was dismissed for committed other crimes!
Differently than Neuroses and the Psychoses the author hypothesizes that the features mentioned above are primarily due to aggressive and, if necessary, destructive impulses for domain determined by a hyper-developed part (also the megalomaniacs women that author known presented psychophysical male characteristics) of Neuro-Endocrine System genetically inherited. Such impulses, not rational nor aware, but fused and confused with rational, conscious and voluntary activity of the cortex, unbalance quantitatively in excess the instinctive survival functions for dominance and qualitatively the reasoning of the Megalomaniacs leading them to dysfunctional ideations and behaviors compared to the original purpose of survival. Obviously, other inherited genes, the individual history, the potential cognitive, environmental and situational factors interact and diversify all them.
The possible “core” of the disorders
The features above described are traits of personality that don’t occur in identical ways in all them, because the genetic factors are integrated with many other possible cultural and situational and make so that no a megalomaniac is identical to another. However between them you can seize a common “core”: 1) egosyntonic superiority feelings and consequent expectance to excel and dominate; 2) view of the world and truths to which they believe or handle or use as handholds or pretexts and that 3) exhibit to legitimize their expectations; 4) a deficiency or absence of empathy and tact and 5) tendency to annihilate or at least to compete with competitors to 6) create around them a living or working environment more or less broad, functional to their aspirations and, at the end, 7) to the satisfactions of their concrete needs with 8) resulting socio-cultural and, sometimes, even legal conflicts.
As the Psychotics the Megalomaniacs, albeit in less heavy ways, often end poor their lives or lives alone, as result of their inability to better manage the money and the interpersonal relations consequent to their disorder. Other times they taking advantage of the credulity or the rudeness of people attending or the ignorance or the anxiety coming from their urgent needs and they become rich and powerful or are considered saints or benefactors. Other times when clash with certain power-men they can end up exiled or imprisoned or killed. Can be that’s the case of many alleged prophets or saints or revolutionaries.
Precisely because they are able to live in society without pharmacotherapy hardly they don’t come to psychiatric services, except in rare cases. It’s more likely to be found them in prisons or in educational institutes, for violating rules or laws. On the other hand, precisely because they believe to be healthy and superior to others people, very difficult they cater to a psychotherapist to ask for help; unless they are lot destabilized after a long series of failures and after having reached the ripe old age when their instinctive impulses are partially muffled or undergo mental deterioration that causes a less of ability to rationalize or intellectualize their tendencies as before wrote and it’s more evident to not-psychiatrists and not-psychologists who push them to be examined by experts or undergo frank psychotic access or to depression of mood.
The self-aggrandizement and any tendency to dominate, the instinctive aversion to competitors and the attempts to annihilate them psychologically or even physically, the attempts to impose their system of ideas and interpersonal relationships at the cost of the manipulation the truth, functional to their ambitions, interests and concrete needs, appears to the author similar to that of many animals belonging to the upper steps of Phylogenetic Scale which tend to delimit the areas in which dominate to the fundamental purpose of utilizing the resources available in it, reorder and optimize it, depending on their needs for survival. Obviously the strategies observed in the animal are lied more directly to the relationship, sex and food; in the human it’s relative also to psychological and more complex social organizations. The author thinks that the behavioral components bad-working in the Megalomaniacs in the civil society, as well as that of all the Personality Disorders, are the effect of neurological and hormonal abnormalities hyper-inducing instinctive behaviors for domain and control on the environment bad-integrated with the rational activity of their brain. This contrasts with the request to them to a more appropriate behavior to the dominant culture in their environment and, this is the why, in the course of time, usually, it result dysfunctional to the original survival purpose.
Natural phenomena including the humans have more concrete origins than these who often attribute some psychologists and philosophers.
As have noted the psychoanalysts, in the childhood life can act an original narcissistic fixation or strong subjective frustrations of emotional needs of acceptance that determine megalomania. In the adolescence life can act strong offenses of the self-image which can escape again in the neonatal narcissism, by the defense mechanisms of denial and projection, regaining so the reassuring feeling of omnipotence.
As have noted the psychologists it can also happen that some people are induced to do so by threatening and objectives situational factors and, thanks to strengths factors of their personality, they can use the confidence in themselves and in their abilities, to control the anguish and face those factors. They also found that can act the original relational experiences with caregivers. Even the environments that hyper-gratify the children and adolescents can promote narcissistic detachment as previous hyper-compensation that removes the stains to the original one.
These own very different observations demonstrate at least that there isn’t a common psychological factor for the megalomania. The author in his experience has rarely found psychologic factors (as in the n. 10 case) in the (pseudo-) megalomaniacs and has met some of them with original rewarding experiences of life and others with frustrating.
At the psycoclinic observation and anamnesis, he found that their fantasies of greatness spring from ego-syntonic feelings of superiority and power that, in most cases, are formed “a priori”, in auto-producted ways, independent of situational factors. He also noted often familiarity. In the case n. 10 the boss was certainly gratified by the power he had acquired and the reverence that others had for him. But the superiority and the wickedness that he has exhibited in interpersonal relationships were reactive to situational neurotics and ego-dystonic factors; so much so, after the psychological treatment, he has returned to be the same as before. That’s the why the author thinks on mostly constitutional determinant or, at least, co-determinant factors in most forms of the megalomania.
It is a largely hypothetic interpretation and it needs to be supported by scientific evidence. Therefore, the author is aware that he not have “revealed” the causes of these disorders. He hopes to have approached or have path in this short essay at least parallele to the reality and to have pointed a road for the neuro-endocrinological and genetic researches.
This article was presented at the 15th European Congress of Psychologists, which took place in Amsterdam, 11-14 July 2017. https://www.eiseverywhere.com/eom/221918/558456/
* The indigenous people are more ignorant (they don’t realize that accepting protection from a mobster, in the long run, it will cost them and to the whole community more than to accept the merits and defects of the State laws) or culturally outdated (people who think and act according to ancient cultural behavioral patterns dictated by centuries-old historical tradition and real that perceive the dominant peoples coming from different lands of Southern Italy, as the Italian State that they many times confuse with the Government, who only coming to exploit them and that the only way to defend themselves is self-organize secretly around a strong local leader who brings order and imparts justice: a mobster) or in need of aid (a job, some protection from someone, the safety that can result from being part of a strong organization, the wish to make a good life without work, the wish to enrich easily, etc.).