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Delusions of Grandeur

Updated on April 16, 2011

What is a psychotic?

The old joke has it that a neurotic knows that three and three make six - and worries about it... a psychotic knows that three and three make seven and is quite happy about it.

But it is no laughing matter. Psychosis is far more deviant and pathologically intense than neurosis: psychotics lose touch with reality as they act out their fantasies in life; they are usually quite barren of emotion, and appear shabby and disorientated. Since they do not differentiate between their own (subjective) reality and the real (objective) world around them, they do not understand that their behaviour is unusual or bizarre. It follows that the social restraints and behavioural rules applying to 'normal' people are non-existent for psychotics. They act out prevailing thoughts and feelings without inhibition. And with no pangs of guilt, shame or anxiety.

A psychosis is not simply an extension of a neurotic illness- neurotics do not ordinarily become psychotics. The dividing line between the two is stark and dramatic.

There are two main categories of psychoses. If a psychotic reaction is caused by some physical ailment, such as brain damage or biochemical imbalance, it is called organic psychosis. Functional psychoses, on the other hand, have their roots in a breakdown of behavioral function somewhere along the line. The functional psychoses include three well-known psychotic states: paranoid reactions, affective reactions and schizophrenic reactions.

Delusions, delusions

Two psychotics were having a heated argument in their ward about which one of them was Moses. 'I know I'm Moses. God told me so!' said one with conviction.

A third patient, who had been looking on, cut in: 'Not true, not true. I never told you anything of the sort.'

No, still no laughing matter: these psychotics were suffering from delusions, which are characteristic of paranoid psychosis. In this instance it was delusions of grandeur.

Another type of delusion which is common in the paranoid state is that of reference. When this delusion takes hold, psychotics see everything that is happening around them as being aimed against them. For example, two old people sitting innocently on a park bench may appear to the tormented psychotic to be plotting his or her death. Delusions of persecution are similar to those of reference. 'Everyone dislikes me- they are all against me', complains the typical sufferer.

It is believed that those who have an overwhelming guilt about some kind of immoral behaviour are particularly prone to paranoiac persecution delusions. Other precipitators of paranoia are thought to be intense inferiority complexes and unrealistically high goals in life. Research has shown that paranoiacs generally come from higher socio-economic status levels than other maladjusted patients. They also tend to be intellectually superior.


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    • Several Ninjas profile image

      Several Ninjas 7 years ago

      thanx for your comment drbj! you got me LOLLING with that one!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Some of my favorite definitions: a neurotic builds castles in the air. A psychotic lives in them.

      And a psychiatrist collects rent from both of them.

    • Several Ninjas profile image

      Several Ninjas 7 years ago

      i've had dealings with such people, but not had close personal relationships. i guess it would be a mixture of frustrating, heartbreaking and even dangerous at times.

    • profile image

      DoorMattnomore 7 years ago

      I have first hand experience with several different levels of psychotic people, all of them are people I love dearly. While the jokes you present are funny, the reality of living with these people is not funny in the slightest. How do you explain to someone, (who fully believes there is nothing wrong with them), that you are in no way trying to poison them, it is a normal cup of coffee you have just handed them? How sad to watch someone you love suffer daily, convinced that everyone is making fun of them.

    • Several Ninjas profile image

      Several Ninjas 7 years ago

      and sometimes its a power that can't be tamed or controled.

      but a mind can be changed! LOL

    • Changed My Mind profile image

      Changed My Mind 7 years ago

      The power of the mind never fails to amaze me. Interesting topic.