What Are Delusions of Grandeur Like?

Five true stories from people living with bipolar disorder

Man reaching toward red cloudy sky
Kartik Jasti Photography / Moment / Getty Images

Delusions of grandeur are a false belief that you possess superpowers or extreme capabilities such as excess wealth, fame, or intelligence. These beliefs may also include believing you have a special connection to a powerful person or entity. Grandiose delusions are most commonly seen in of schizophrenia but can occur if you have bipolar disorder and are experiencing mania. They may also occur in other conditions such as dementia.

The following are personal stories of people who have experienced these types of delusions. Names have been omitted to protect the privacy of those sharing their stories. 

Reality Man

"I believed I was the World Bank. Not economically, but spiritually. I knew exactly what was going to happen, like a precognition of events to unfold in a certain way. I could manipulate all actions and determine all reactions. I was able to communicate all thoughts in the subconscious mind, which gave me extraordinary foresight and telepathic abilities. I could also control all world events via remote viewing and astral projection. I had tapped into the unknown currency. I became a trader in the collective mind. I am World Bank."

God’s Vessel

"When I go crazy, I believe that God has come down and chosen me to be his replacement due to his retirement. I act very crazy when this happens. I walk miles and miles to lakes and then swim for miles.

I have endless energy, which feels great at the time. I have gotten my life together in the last year and am going to school to be a nurse; we will see how it works out. But even though it has been over two years since my last event, I still hear voices and daydream about my delusions."

Frodo 

"I had my first episode of mania two years ago, triggered by first-time use ever of an antidepressant (Lexapro) to fight severe depression.

The mania was prolonged—it lasted about one year, during which on the advice of a therapist I did not take mood stabilizers—a huge mistake—and at points became psychotic. I believed was the most intelligent being in the universe and could formally prove any true logical statement, including the existence of God. But proving God´s existence drives one insane, as happened to Georg Cantor, Kurt Gödel, and Alexander Grothendieck. So I just accepted God´s existence as an axiom instead of trying to prove it. After all, since He was talking directly to my brain, I didn’t really need to prove it, right? I had always been an atheist before this delusion. Realizing that this was a brain-chemistry induced delusion has again made an atheist—or at least an extremely skeptical agnostic—which I find very painful."

Skywalker 

"I began having some bizarre dreams and one included me running while my feet weren't touching the ground. Funny thing, it came to fruition in my mind even after waking. Not only that, I was able to rationalize flying. The rationale? All I have to do is find a way to combine the best of my 'crazy' bipolar disorder with intellect and focus. This would allow me to transcend what we perceive as reality and enter a higher state of consciousness.

Bizarre? Absolutely, but to me, not impossible. I have made the argument to my wife and doctor that what we perceive is not all there is, and just because we have physical limitations it doesn't mean we are limited. My wife's immediate response was that I am delusional. I agree. However, my rationale, while improbable, is still plausible. After I informed my doctor, he asked me to come by to make sure I wouldn't jump off of a bridge to prove myself. No worries, I can start small."

Superman

"I've always felt like I've had super powers. I remember when I was young trying to figure out how to use my powers.

I'm 21 now and I know I don’t have any powers; however, I do think I was sent here on a mission from God to save the world from all of its problems. It's really hard for me because I always feel like I fail, I feel like there is no chance I'm able to live up to this. Often I feel evil presences around me, and sometimes inside of me. I've had dreams where I've seen demons and even fought with them."

Continue Reading