Egomania is a psychiatric term used to describe excessive preoccupation with one's ego, identity or self and applies the same preoccupation to anyone who follows one’s own ungoverned impulses, is possessed by delusions of personal greatness & grandeur and feels a lack of appreciation. Someone suffering from this extreme egocentric focus is an egomaniac. Egomania as a condition, while not a classified personality disorder, is considered psychologically abnormal.
The term egomania is often used by laypersons in a pejorative fashion to describe an individual who is perceived as intolerably self-centered. The clinical condition that most resembles egomania, and most often associated with is narcissistic personality disorder, though they differ vastly according to the individual's responses to others.
Egomania was brought into polemical prominence at the end of the 19th century by Max Nordau, one of the first critics who perceived the centrality of the concept of egoism for an understanding of Modernism, with criticism on the ideology of egomania'. Nordau distinguished egoism from the egomania. He described egoism as a lack of amiability while maintaining the ability to look after oneself, and egomania as a condition where one does not see things as they are, does not understand the world, and cannot take up a right attitude towards it. Nordau's attack was aimed at the avant-garde of the fin de siècle. His describes the self-proclaimed geniuses as criminals & madmen obsessed with culte du moi (the cult of self).
Over a century later, the term egomania re-appeared with a positive gloss to mark the post-modern quest for success and celebrity. "Self-confidence is the key to all success..." By contrast, reticent personalities may be labelled: it may well be a form of egomania, if you aren't willing to take a chance".
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
- 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