Egomania is difficult to define these days. That’s because the term mania has come to have a specific medical meaning. And in most cases, clinical mania has its roots in brain chemistry gone awry. And that can happen for a variety of reasons. The use of certain substances can precipitate a manic episode. But brain chemistry can get out of balance for other reasons, too, including for reasons that are virtually unidentifiable.
Egomania can be a manifestation of a manic episode. That is, when someone is manic, they can show several signs of ego inflation. It’s all part of a mood disorder over which a person generally has no control. Ego inflation doesn’t have to be the result of mental illness, however. It can also be a manifestation of character disturbance.
As I point out in my landmark book Character Disturbance, egomania is part and parcel of certain types of narcissism. And it’s more than a strong, confident sense of self. It’s ego on steroids!
The Nature of Ego
The way the world works, we need ego to operate within it. And as egoic creatures we primarily seek to:
- Separate ourselves (i.e. develop a unique, defined identity)
- Elevate ourselves (i.e. develop an image to be proud of)
- Justify ourselves (i.e. validate our preferred ways of seeing and doing things)
Having little to no ego or ego strength is pretty unhealthy. In fact, having a fluid, unstable, or conflicted sense (the heart of the disorder we call borderline personality) is a pretty undesirable thing. And in addition to borderline personalities, there are other personality types with a poor self-images who often struggle with impaired or deflated egos. So you need ego. But you can have too much ego, too. And in our times, ego-inflation is a big problem, and sadly, for all too many.
Ego on Steroids
Egomania has to do with ego inflation that is non-compensatory. That is, it reflects a grandiosity that is both genuine and inherently toxic. It’s not a compensation for underlying insecurity, as is the case with the “vulnerable” type of narcissism. (See: Vulnerable Narcissists and Relationships.) And it’s more than healthy self-esteem or solid sense of self. Rather, it’s an exaggerated sense of oneself and one’s worth. In short, it’s ego run amuck – on steroids.
Grandiose narcissists engage in a lot of what I call “egomaniacal thinking.” They always have to be right. And they justify everything they do, even the outrageous. Somehow, they see themselves as above everyone else and above the rules everyone else plays by. Pathologically egocentric, they act in a haughty and entitled manner, lacking both empathy and regard for those they wantonly injure or exploit.
Is there any cure for egomania? That depends. The temporary symptom-reliever is generally a healthy dose of humble pie. That is, when circumstances necessarily call into question the egomaniac’s inflated view of their power and success, grandiosity might diminish under the weight of a broken heart. But for most grandiose (narcissistic) characters, this doesn’t last. Sometimes it takes repeated humbling, which is as difficult to predict as it is to ensure. The other way it can happen is through an opening of the heart. But this is, perhaps, and even less likely event. Still, because of the hope this holds, I’ll have something more to say about it in a future article.