Liberation Therapy Blog
Grandiosity in Narcissism
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing to describe the way each of the core traits of narcissism presents interpersonally. That is to say, how the trait will act out when the narcissist is with others.
One of the core traits in narcissism is Grandiosity. Grandiosity is experienced either overtly or covertly. That means the grandiose belief is either obvious, or hidden.
What is grandiosity? Grandiosity is an unrealistic sense of superiority, with no basis in reality. For example the person who believes they’re a medic, despite never having done any training, and garnering knowledge from T.V. shows or articles. Grandiosity is believing that they are better than others and should be treated as such.
In narcissism, grandiosity is considered pathological when it comes at a cost to others, when someone’s belief in their superiority results in interpersonal dominance and antagonism. It’s hard to distinguish grandiosity from entitlement, but the main difference would be that entitlement is much more interpersonal and grandiosity is more intrapersonal, meaning that it does not necessarily need others to fulfil the belief.
When overtly presented, grandiosity might look like someone who likes fast cars and big houses, who dominates conversation with the belief that they’re the only one who knows everything, or that they’re the one who knows best.
When covertly presented, it might be that the individual believes they are better than others, but keep it well hidden, only excluding those who don’t comply with that belief system.
Grandiosity is thought to be a self-enhancement, used to regulate self-esteem, and allows the individual the power to deny any characteristic flaws, and also gives the person unrealistic high expectations. When those expectations aren’t met, or the character flaws aren’t deniable, this can provoke what’s known as ‘narcissistic rage’.
Narcissistic rage involves the individual going to extreme lengths to gain revenge, and therefore rebalance the perceived power imbalance. If someone has in anyway contradicted or exposed the narcissists grandiose beliefs to be the hollow shell they are, that person will come under extreme attack from the narcissist, in the form of devaluing and discrediting, also known as the smear campaign.
Furthermore, when the narcissist feels threatened by attack, they will themselves attack as a form of defence. Grandiosity gives the overt narcissist the courage to keep ploughing their agenda, even when presented with contradicting evidence; and it might even be said the same of the covert narcissist, although it will appear much more subtly and passive aggressively.
The grandiose trait is one that doesn’t have an awful lot to say about it, other than a person with the pathological trait will believe they are better than others with not evidence to suggest why, and as such will probably avoid people who may indeed be better than them.
Whilst grandiosity doesn’t seem so harmful, in a family system, where others are an extension of the narcissist, if the partner or children do not comply with or fulfil the grandiose need, the narcissist will exclude, attack or smear campaign that person. It means children will be expected to achieve higher than anyone else, and will exist to please their narcissistic parent, and any signs of autonomy of failure will be met with one of those responses described above.
The exposer of this and any trait will likely be met with the narcissistic rage, and ultimately exclusion and isolation.
Next time, I will write about entitlement and exploitation together.