The Narcissists Addiction to Grandiosity: 

Grandiosity is usually the most outstanding and discriminating feature of individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Grandiosity can be expressed in an unrealistic overvaluation of talents and abilities; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited beauty, power, wealth or success; and a belief in unrealistic superiority and uniqueness. This is usually accompanied by boastful, pretentious, self-centered and self-referential behaviour. According to Gunderson and Ronningstam, from “The Diagnostic Interview for Narcissistic Patients”  (Archives of General Psychiatry,1990), the research shows that the grandiose narcissist exaggerates his talents, capacity, and achievements in an unrealistic way.  He believes in his invulnerability, or does not recognize his limitations.  His grandiose fantasies lead him to believe that he does not need other people.

In his interpersonal relations, the narcissist craves for admiration and attention.  When he picks someone as the source of his attention, at first he unrealistically idealizes them (they are “all good”), but very soon he usually ends up devaluing them (they become “all bad”), then, before long, they go on to have feelings of contempt for that person.  He behaves as if he is entitled to things, and has unreasonable expectations of getting special treatment, and if for any reason his demands are not meet, then he becomes hurt and enraged.  He appears or behaves in an arrogant, haughty, or condescending way towards people, and if he gets the opportunity to exploit them then he will, usually in a passive, indirect, or manipulative way without any intention of reciprocating in any way.  He completely lacks empathy (is unable to both understand and feel for other people’s experience).  His inability to maintain satisfactory, mutual and enduring committed relationships is the most important feature of the narcissistic individual.  They often see others either as a means of ego inflation and support for their self-esteem, or as stepping stones to achieving their own goals.  When the narcissist is being reactive, he is hypersensitive.  He responds with intense anger to any criticism or defeat.  He is very envious of anybody’s successes, no matter how small the success is, and he thinks everybody is envious of him.

The Affects and Mood States of the narcissist show that he has sustained feelings of boredom, meaninglessness, futility, and hollowness.  He often feels emotionally impoverished: Yearns for deeper emotional experiences.  The Social and Moral Adaptation of the grandiose narcissist shows he has superficial and changing values and interests, and that he shows disregard for unusual/conventional values or rules of society, and as a result he has corruptible moral and ethical standards.  He has broken laws under circumstances of being enraged, or as a means of avoiding defeat. He often exhibits sexual behaviour that includes perversion, promiscuity, and/or lack of inhibitions.

So as you can see from the above research, grandiosity occurs when a person has an inflated self-esteem, believe that they have special powers, spiritual connections, or religious relationships.  A grandiose individual feels unrealistically powerful, important, and invincible. These beliefs are frequently accompanied by feelings of euphoria and intense pleasure. Nothing seems impossible, every problem has a solution, and the person may feel an urgent need to initiate projects or activities.  To the observer, the grandiose individual appears to be pompous, boastful, exaggerated, impulsive, conceited, condescending, and unrealistic. The fallout of grandiose behavior, especially when compounded by a Narcissistic Personality Disorders, can be devastating. The high risk behavior, the inflated self-esteem, and delusions often lead to job loss, expulsion from school, and endless terminated relationships.

The narcissist differs from a normal person in that he lives out of a False Self that is so unrealistic, and a Superego that is so sadistic, that he can never reach his highly unrealistic vision of his own abilities.  As a result there is a disparity between his accomplishments and his grandiose fantasies and inflated self-image.  This is referred to as The Grandiosity Gap (Vaknin).  So staggering is this gap, that in the long run, it is insupportable as it imposes excessive difficulties on the narcissist’s grasp of reality and social skills. His surreal distortions push him either to retreat from the world or to go into a furor of acquiring possessions  – cars, sex, property, wealth, and power.  Regardless of how successful the narcissist becomes, often (in their mind) they end up being abject failures – because the Grandiosity Gap can never be bridged.

The narcissist is always a slave to his own fantasy. And depending on the circumstances of the individual, their grandiose fantasies are likely to cause them to either, suffer from inertia (with a dread to move), or acceleration, (moving with great speed).  Some narcissists are forever accelerating on the way to dizzier height and on to greener pastures.  While others succumb to a state of inertia, where their action seems to freeze, then, spending only the minimal of energy they target the vulnerable as a way of existing. But either way, the narcissist’s life is out of control, at the mercy of heartless inner voices and internal forces.  Underneath all this, there is a Generalised Anxiety eating away at them.

The Narcissistic Eye of Illusion

The narcissist believes his own illusions, and is blind to the fact that others can see through them.  For those people who are outside the circle of Narcissistic Supply, they can see the games that are being played, having lost respect for him, they wisely give the narcissist a wide berth.  Impervious in his armor of grandiosity, the narcissist blindly lives in his ivory tower, where he believes that he is hugely impressive to everybody. He displays his grandiosity daily in his exaggerated delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence.  He is such a megalomaniac, that whatever he talks about, (whether it be work, family, possessions, health, achievements, etc.) he is always the one who is being celebrated, for he is the shining star within all of his stories.  Any success another person has in his story is attributed to him; he is the one who takes the responsibility for his family, his home, his company, because everybody else is undependable, uncooperative, or incompetent.  Even though he manipulates many people to do things for him, he constantly complains that nobody ever helps him.  Having got help from others, he then goes on to denigrate  their abilities and contributions. All this is done to inspire more sympathy or admiration for himself, which he craves.  If you ever got a chance to visit him in his Kingdom, you would find that everybody around him are not only pulling their weight, but carrying the narcissists share as well. Once you understand the personality you are dealing with, it is easy to see that the narcissist’s addiction to grandiosity is linked with his strong susceptibility to shame. The shame is in relation to failed aspirations and ideals, plaguing and unsatisfactory early object relationships, and narcissistic manifestations with shame at their core.  Their inability to process their shame in a healthy way means that they are unable to face up to it, and neutralize it so that they can move on to become a healthier individual.  It is this inability that leads to the characteristic postures, attitudes, and behaviour of the Grandiose Narcissist.

What is the intelligence at work in the grandiose behaviour you might ask?  The intelligence behind the grandiose behaviour for the narcissist is that it masks profound self-esteem problems, and helps to stave off the hurt and shameful feeling that plagues him so profoundly.  It also supports him in building and maintaining his image of being powerful, talented, and desirable, because he genuinely fears that he is worthless.  Any slight or rejection, even unintentional, unsettles his self-image, throwing him into a fit of anger and depression.  For him, any failure or loss of any kind calls into question his specialness.   Predictability, he has trouble in his working and personal relationships because he perceives that others fail to appreciate him sufficiently, and when this happens he tends to react in an arrogant and manipulative fashion, which further damage the relationship.  Part of the grandiose behaviour comes across in a seductive manner, and this puts him at the center of the other person’s attention.  He speaks of casual acquaintances as close friends, and of friends as if they are intimate partners, and if he should feel slighted or rejected in any way with these people, then he throws temper tantrums or makes threats of retribution (which he will carry out).  Because he is anti-social, he does not care about others, except to the extent that he can exploit people to his own ends.  His grandiosity makes him believe that he is beyond the law.  For him, rules are made to be broken, and he breaks them whenever he thinks he can get away with it.  The grandiosity grows as he grows in power, then the narcissist loses touch with reality, and it reflects his pervasive and lifelong failure to empathize with others, and to cope with underlying feelings of inadequacy.

Follow me
Christine is a Psychotherapist, Educator, Author and Supervisor of mental health professionals for over 28 years. She was part of a team in the Trauma Unit of St. Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital, Dublin, and has worked specifically with victims of pathological narcissistic abuse in her private practice for many years.
Her books, “The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse” and “When Shame Begets Shame: How Narcissists hurt and shame their victims” set out to to help those who have been affected by a narcissist and also to address the shortfalls in a therapist’s education, so that they become better equipped to work with survivors of narcissistic abuse.Much of her knowledge has come from her post-grad studies in Criminology and Forensic Psychology, and it is through these disciplines that she has gained her understanding of “The Dark Triad”, (Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy).
These three faces of evil are vital information for understanding the full spectrum of narcissistic abuse and the dire effects on the victims.It is her vision that narcissistic abuse becomes part of the curriculum of all Mental Health clinicians.
Follow me