Within a single year, Barrack Obama had been elected to the Presidency of the United States and had won the Nobel Peace Prize. While the merits of the first achievement are debatable, there is a consensus, even among his most ardent supporters, fans, and acolytes that he absolutely does not deserve the second honor.
What happens to a narcissist (Obama) whose grandiose delusions suddenly come true? What are the psychological effects on a narcissist when his fantasies of success and perfection materialize, even though his real-life accomplishments do not warrant such a turn of events and are wildly incommensurate with the adulatory feedback he keeps getting?
I. The Narcissist’s Delusions of Grandeur
A delusion is “a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary”. Delusion is, therefore, a belief, idea, or conviction firmly held despite abundant information to the contrary. The partial or complete loss of reality test is the first indication of a psychotic state or episode. Beliefs, ideas, or convictions shared by other people, members of the same collective, are not, strictly speaking, delusions, although they may be hallmarks of shared psychosis.
There are many types of delusions. The narcissist typically holds grandiose-magical convictions that he is important, omnipotent, omniscient, irresistibly charming, brilliant, perfect, possessed of occult powers, deserving of special treatment (entitlement), or a historic figure of cosmic-messianic significance.
II. The Narcissist’s Reaction to Success: The Grandiosity Bubble
A Grandiosity Bubble is an imagined, self-aggrandizing narrative involving the narcissist and elements from his real life: people around him, places he frequents, or conversations he is having. The narcissist weaves a story incorporating these facts, inflating them in the process and endowing them with bogus internal meaning and consistency. In other words: he confabulates – but, this time, his confabulation is loosely based on reality.
In the process, the narcissist re-invents himself and his life to fit the new-fangled tale. He re-casts himself in newly adopted roles. He suddenly fancies himself an actor, a guru, a political activist, an entrepreneur, or an irresistible hunk. He modifies his behaviour to conform to these new functions. He gradually morphs into the fabricated character and “becomes” the fictitious protagonist he has created.
All the mechanisms of pathological narcissism are at work during the bubble phase. The narcissist idealizes the situation, the other “actors”, and the environment. He tries to control and manipulate his milieu into buttressing his false notions and perceptions. Faced with an inevitable Grandiosity Gap (the abyss between his fantasies and reality), he becomes disillusioned and bitter and devalues and discards the people, places, and circumstances involved in the bubble. health and safety awareness course