What is megalomania as a mental behavior?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The word megalomania conjures names from history: Attila the Hun, Ivan the Terrible, Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte. Megalomania is defined as a psychopathological condition marked by delusions of greatness, omnipotence, and a highly inflated self-esteem. In familiar terms, it is a lust or craving for power.

In the early days of psychoanalysis with those like Freud, it was felt that there could be no therapy for this condition; however, it was later perceived by those such as the followers of Melanie Reizes Klein's object relations theory that therapy is possible for megalomania as origins for this condition can be found within the infantile psyche.

As well as a symptom of pathology, megalomania is also considered a condition that develops as a means of defense against loss or separation. For instance, with many of the historical rulers identified with megalomania, when they realize that their campaigns are beginning to fail, they continue or accelerate their efforts of control and aggression. Unfortunately, they actually drive themselves to the loss or separation which they have feared because their psychological state leads them to miscalculation. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial