Bipolar Disorder Type I: Mania and Delusions of Grandeur

Bipolar Disorder Type I: Mania and Delusions of Grandeur

Not long ago the Bipolar Burble had a commenter ask me about delusions of grandeur in mania as a part of bipolar disorder. She was feeling alone in her experiences and so was hesitant to talk about her own delusions of grandeur during mania.

I’m not familiar with delusions of grandeur in mania and bipolar disorder so I looked it up and I asked if anyone had stories of their mania and delusions of grandeur. Naturally, my lovely readers provided.

Delusions of Grandeur as a Part of Mania of Bipolar Disorder

Delusions of grandeur is not officially listed as part if the diagnostic and statistics manual (DSM) of mental illness. Accoding to the DSM-IV TR (the latest version) one of the symptoms of bipolar mania is:

Inflated self-esteem to levels of grandiosity

Without mention of delusions in mania. However, this physician’s reference adds:

Mania may also include . . . delusions of grandeur. Delusions associated with mania frequently center around an expansive sense of self that goes well beyond narcissism, eg, believing oneself to have special (eg, supernatural) powers or to be the chosen leader of the world or universe.

Delusions of grandeur are part of mania and bipolar disorder I, not bipolar disorder type II (hypomania). (Delusions themselves can be part of other disorders as well.)

Different Types of Mania in Bipolar Disorder Type I

There has been an attempt made by researchers at Duke University to divide mania in bipolar disorder into five categories (using a sample of 327 inpatients with bipolar disorder):

  1. Pure type 1: (20.5%) – similar to hypomania, no aggression or paranoia, low irritability
  2. Pure type 2 (24.5%) – severe mania including grandiosity and psychosis
  3. Group 3 (18%) – psychosis, paranoia, delusional grandiosity and delusional lack of insight, lower levels of psychomotor and hedonic activation
  4. Group 4 (21.4%) – high dysphoria, low psychomotor and hedonic activation
  5. Group 5 (15.6%) – mixture of others; dysphoria, euphoria

Mania-Related Definitions

  • Dysphoria: emotional state marked by anxiety, depression and restlessness
  • Grandeur: affectation of personal greatness or splendor or by absurd exaggeration
  • Hedonic (hedonia, hedonist): pleasure seeking above all else

Delusions of Grandeur Common in Bipolar I Mania

In short, delusions of grandeur are pretty common in type I bipolar disorder mania. (According to the above, almost 45% of bipolars in a manic episode experience it to some degree.)

You’re not weird or a freak at all. You’re not alone in your delusions of grandeur. Delusions of grandeur are just another thing about bipolar disorder that people don’t want to talk about.

Real Life Stories of Delusions of Grandeur in Bipolar Disorder

Delusion of Grandeur in Bipolar ManiaHanna’s personal experience of delusions of grandeur is a really great example:

As the week progressed and my mania increased everything started coming in brilliant detail. As I drove past fields of grass no longer could I see the wind blowing across a field, but instead as I looked out I saw millions of individual blades of grass blowing. It was like a clarity I have never seen. Everything was in super sharp focus. It was like a whole new world, and it was beautiful. But as it progressed the more I saw in detail the more I felt “one” with nature, to the point where I thought that I could BE one with the wind.

One afternoon driving home from work I thought that I was so in tune to the nature around me I could drive with my eyes closed. I rolled down my window and extended my arm out as far as I could, each finger spread out wide. I gently at first started letting the wind guide my arm up and down, then at the precise moment I felt it “carry” me I closed my eyes and let the wind guide me down the interstate. This abruptly ended when I hit the side of the road. I was so torn between some part of my mind telling me I was crazy and the utter disappointment I felt with the wind for not guiding me and keeping me on the road.

I ended up in the hospital the next week.

From another person with bipolar disorder (kept anonymous for privacy reasons):

I thought I was the incarnation of Bast, Egyptian cat goddess, and I could talk to every kitty in the universe.  Most people when they get in that state think they are Jesus. I was brought up Jewish and I am a cat person, so I guess I thought of Bast. It got bad when the cat was talking to me and I could swear I could hear the kitty in the apartment across from me talking to me.

Manic Delusions of Grandeur Examples

Both of the above are from great people. Just like you. Trust me; you’re not alone in this.

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