To all whose websites I had linked to, I had to take them down because my email was hacked, but I will post them again soon. The email problem is completely resolved now.
First I will paste in what I wrote back in 2006 about Delusions of Grandeur, henceforth reduced to the easy-to-understand shorthand, DoG. (Sorry, all you dog-lovers out there!) Then I will elaborate and/or explain where I differ in my thinking now.
From July 2006, then (with a few edits for easier reading):
Delusions of Grandeur
Where do they come from? Mine were usually of a negative grandeur as you know. I was the devil, the most evil person in the world, I needed to kill myself or burn myself to a crisp in order to save the world from my poison. I even went so far as to set my leg on fire, prelude to setting myself on fire in order to do this, and burned marks on my forehead to prove I was Cain, so people would be warned and stay away…as a result I have had ECT, been restrained, isolated, locked up for months and all the other humiliating things they do to people they think might seriously hurt themselves or others. And obviously I might have, and did. But whence came this sort of thought? And why do others believe they are God or Jesus Christ or as one person I met claimed, the song-writer who provided John Lennon with his music. Their delusions may seem more positive than mine, yet I know they suffered much as I did, probably because they too went unbelieved and scoffed-at. Where does this kind of false belief, clung to in the face of so much evidence to the contrary, come from?
I’m not completely sure but DoG seem, both in their positive and negative incarnations, to derive from a terrible feeling that you lack self-worth in the world, your secret knowledge — if you have SZ or another devastating mental illness, that it has robbed you of everything you were supposed to have, be and do, that you are entirely useless and empty and without value in life. The illness itself produces this feeling, and the feeling is secondarily strengthened as a result of having the illness. People who develop DoG respond to their feelings of worthlessness with the conscious or unconscious fantasy of a powerful false-self to make up for the lack of real power — to do, to be, to create in life. Others, like me, accept our lack of value, only we exaggerate it until it becomes the dominant factor in our lives and colors everything, so that we cannot but refer everything to it and see all through its lens. We become convinced that if everything in our lives is contaminated by our worthlessness, maybe everything in the entire world is contaminated as well.
I don’t understand the transition from feelings of worthlessness to actual belief in false and grandiose facts, the transition to delusion. But I believe the connection is there, from lack of any sense of self-esteem transitioning somehow to delusions of grandeur. And that either positive or negative delusions all derive from a negative feeling, a lack of positive self-regard. I don’t think anyone who truly feels good about him or herself would ever suffer in such a way…
I must have gotten tired near the end there, as it feels to me as if I simply gave up midway, and relinquished my train of thought, and my pen, so to speak, before I’d even tried to finish. Be that as it may, on rereading the piece, my first impression, the first thing that struck me and struck me with a punch was my use of the past tense when I was describing my own experiences with DoG. This seems to me, even now, as stranger than strange. Does it mean that there was actually a time, and relatively recent to boot, when I did not believe myself to be the devil, not feel that I was evil, did not secretly want, though in a controllable way (controllable in the sense that I will not do it, so fearful am I that it would eventuate in another terror-filled hospital stay…) to destroy myself via the flames? So it seems, but if so, I have as assuredly forgotten how that felt, how such thinking was as an experience, as I have the entire 6 weeks I spent in the hospital this past April and May. Which is to say, “utterly and completely.”
What I can say now, is that it is much harder to write about DoG at any distance, or with any real so-called insight into myself (despite reading my own words) because the feelings of evil and worthlessness I wrote about in the past tense then are so strong now, in the 2010 present. I won’t, at this time, ask (rhetorically) What happened? That is for another essay. But I will admit that for me to continue with this discussion I will have to refer to what I have observed about others and their DoG, rather than any I may or may not experience myself.
Zo! Here are basic definitions, lest you have forgotten them. For my nutshells, I quote the online Free Dictionary (thefreedictionary.com).
Delusion: an idiosyncratic false belief that is firmly maintained in spite of incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.
Delusion of Grandeur or Grandiose delusion: delusional conviction of one’s own importance, power, or knowledge or that one is, or has a special relationship with, a deity or a famous person.
One thought on “Delusions of Grandeur”
Well said. In particular, I’m referencing the differences between a bipolar’s DoGs and those of a SZ patient. (it’s too early to be politically correct, so just pretend I was, k?)
I have a numerous amount of family members with bipolar disorder and their DoGs when their on a high does not at all, to me, resemble the ones I’ve seen from SZ friends. They’re quite different: not only in source but also presentation and manifestation.