Egomania is also known as an obsessive preoccupation with one's self and applies to someone who follows their own ungoverned impulses and is possessed by delusions of personal greatness and feels a lack of appreciation. Someone suffering from this extreme egocentric focus is an egomaniac. The condition is psychologically abnormal.
The term egomania is often used by laypersons in a pejorative fashion to describe an individual who is intolerably self-centred. The clinical condition that most resembles the popular conception of egomania is narcissistic personality disorder.
Nordau and modernism
Egomania was brought into polemical prominence at the close of the 19th century by Max Nordau, the first critic who perceived the centrality of the concept of egoism for an understanding of Modernism...[with] his wholesale attacks on the ideology of "egomania"'. Nordau distinguished egoism - as 'a lack of amiability....The egoist is quite able to look after himself in life' - from the 'ego-maniac...who does not see things as they are, does not understand the world, and cannot take up a right attitude towards it'.
Entrepreneurs and celebrities
Over a century later, the term has re-appeared with a positive gloss to mark the post-modern quest for success and celebrity, and intense self interest. 'Self-confidence, not egomania, is the key to all success...Some characterize Hillary Clinton as an egomaniac... and Ross Perot has a similar penchant for egomania'.
By contrast, the reticent are negatively labelled: 'it may well be a form of egomania...if you aren't willing to take a chance'.
Egomania has also been linked with alcoholism. 'Egomania drives many young alcoholics...alcoholism-created egomania'. A recovering alcoholic may well look back at the past as 'the land of self-loathing, egomania, and decay'.
The danger with the egomaniac is always that 'underneath the apparent over-confidence and bravado lies a fragile personality', driven by 'grandiose fantasies of boundless success or power or perfect love' which cannot be fulfilled.
- H.C.R. Norriss Indulgent parents; Alienist Says they Make their Children Egomaniacs, July 24, 1913, The New York Times
- Gretchen Reevy et al eds., Encyclopedia of Emotions: Volume I (2010) p. 217
- Jean-Michel Rabaté, James Joyce and the Politics of Egoism (2001) p. 27
- Max Simon Nordau, Degeneration (1895) p. 243
- Rabaté, p. 29
- Gene N. Landrum, Entrepreneurial Genius (2004) p. 372
- Michael Flocker, The Fame Game (2005) p. 62
- James Graham, Vessels of Rage, Engines of Power (1994) p. 10
- Anne Lamott, "Thirst", in Autumn Stephens ed., Roar Softly and Carry a Great Lipstick (2004) p. 6
- Reevy, p. 217