Egomania Photo courtesy of GoodTherapyOpens in new window

Egomania is “a pathological love for, or preoccupation with, oneself” (Colman, 2009, p. 241). The term egomania is often used by laypersons in a pejorative fashion to describe an individual who is intolerably self-centered and with whom it is nearly impossible to get along or to reason. The clinical condition that most closely resembles the popular conception of egomania is narcissistic personality disorderOpens in new window.

The central characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder are generalized grandiosity, hypersensitivity to criticism, and lack of empathy that begins by young adulthood. An individual with this disorder has an exaggerated sense of self-importance. He believes that he is special and expects others to notice and praise him, even without necessarily having produced praiseworthy achievements.

The sense of specialness means a feeling of uniqueness, and the narcissistic person believes that other people will not understand him; only other special people can relate to his experience. He can be extremely dismissive of people who are not viewed as special.

Underneath the apparent over-confidence and bravado lies a fragile personality. The narcissistic individual actually fears that he is unworthy or a fraud. His self-esteem may be highly dependent on being recognized as the best or perfect.

For instance, he may believe that he is the best salesperson in his office, and if another individual wins the salesperson award, the narcissistic person will react with extreme humiliation. He has grandiose fantasies of boundless success or power or perfect love. He is jealous of those whom he perceives as being more successful in these areas that are valued. Because of the extreme insecurity, the narcissistic person often seeks attention and fishes for compliments.

Narcissistic personality disorderOpens in new window affects less than 1 percent of the population (American Psychiatric AAssociation, 2000). The cause of the disorder is unknown; the two most accepted theories are contradictory. Some theorists (e.g., Wink, 1996) say that narcissism begins with cold, rejecting parents. The child then creates the self-absorption and grandiosity as a defense against feelings of worthlessness.

Others (e.g., Sperry, 2003) argue that people who become adult narcissists were spoiled as children and were taught by their parents that they were superior and special. Thus far, treatment of narcissistic personality disorder is of limited success.

See also:
  1. Behary, W.T. (2008). Disarming the narcissist: Surviving & thriving with the self-absorbed. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
  2. Wayment, H.A., & Bauer, J. J. (Eds.). (2008). Transcending self-interest: Psychological exploration of the quiet ego. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  3. Colman, A.M. (2009). Oxford dictionary of psychology. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
  4. Sperry, L. (2003). Handbook of diagnosis and treatment of DSM-IV-TR personality disorders (2nd ed.). New York: Brunner-Routledge.
  5. Wink, P. (1996). Narcissism. In C.G. Costello (Ed.), Personality characteristics of the personality disordered (pp. 146 – 172). New York: John Wiley.