According to Merriam-Webster, this is the definition of Megalomania:
Full Definition of MEGALOMANIA
- a mania for great or grandiose performance
- a delusional mental disorder that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur
The topic of megalomania seems particularly relevant at this point in history considering the histrionics of a certain presidential candidate.
Some scholars have gone great lengths to list out and analyze the important megalomaniacs of our time. Yet, some of these so-called “megalomaniacs” seem rather innocuous (Anais Nin), considering the others who loom large (the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch). Here are a few categories that I have brainstormed to help analyze the irrational influence of “power,” for lack of a better word, in our time.
I’m like Jesus
The first of our short list is known as the “Jesus Complex” on the streets, but otherwise called the Messiah Complex by the psychological community (to accommodate a more broad interpretation). Jesus complex is often paired with notions of salvation, suggesting that the actions of one individual will literally save all people from the wraths of our day.
Too Rich to Fail
The second runner up pertains to the 1%, whose wacky bubble society has led to a special form of Wall Street inspired megalomania. Paul Krugman writes about this in his NY Times Op-Ed piece entitled “Paranoia of Plutocrats.”
Third on my list is megalomania that appears in the odd distortions of political rhetoric. More often than not, conservative, charismatic leaders are particularly susceptible to this form of megalomania. Sarah Palin is perhaps most notorious for this in the United States, but she is certainly not alone. Apart from these politicians whose rhetorical nonsense reveals a form of megalomania, we should also consider the severe damage such megalomania imprints on contemporary policy through instances of the damaging effects of outright denial of proven fact. Writers and political pundits who denounce climate change fall into this category, as the scientific community has openly embraced and warned against the factual, observable consequences of climate change.
High and Mighty
It is also suggested that drugs can be a contributing factor to delusions of grandeur. See this article highlighting one form of such psychosis that the author refers to as “cocainomania.”
Taking it Out on Others
With the rise in police violence, mass shootings, and acts of terrorism, one can’t help but wonder if having the means for violent acts, such as weapons, induces some people into a violent form of megalomania. Rather than submitting to a social contract, these acts of violence default to a more base form of rule: might over right. The application of this logic is disturbingly capricious. This is a contemporary dilemma that needs to be redressed.
Of course communities of color have challenged the usefulness of calling racially biased police violence a form of madness, since we should name it at face-value, whether it is racism or a crime against humanity. On the other hand, I find the belief that one can take another’s life without consequence to be a kind of unnatural delusion based on a sense of overweening power.
All in all, this megalomaniac power-frenzy is worth questioning and I encourage you to acknowledge the myriad of ways that gluttony for power distorts society. In short, let’s try to curb megalomania and its negative influence upon our lives.