A god complex is as it sounds, a person having a false perception of having god-like characteristics of perfect, infallible, and always able. Simply defined, a god complex means a firm or strong belief characterized by strong feelings of unique personal abilities, traits, inability to make mistakes, and being naturally above the abilities of other people.
A god complex is similar to narcissistic personality disorder and superiority complex. However, it differs between the two to an extent. Most sources and psychologists have failed to give a clear distinction between a god complex and narcissistic personality disorder.
Even though a god complex is not diagnosable like narcissistic personality disorder, it is very existent and can not be ignored even by clinical psychologists. Let us draw the line before we delve deeper.
Differences between a god complex and narcissistic personality disorder.
The god complex, narcissistic personality disorder, and superiority complex all come from a disregard for, or lack of empathy and underlying feelings of inferiority, insecurities, and low self-esteem.
To identify the three, we need to keenly and clearly recognize how they deviate from empathy, which direction they take and how they deal with feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem, and insecurities.
The narcissist loses empathy and develops a grandiose sense of self. The person with a superiority complex suppresses empathy and fakes a superior self. In other words, it remains with them but suppressed.
The person with a god complex finds a strength they have and completely identifies with it totally disregarding empathy even though they have it strongly functional.
The difference between a god complex and narcissistic personality disorder is that with a god complex, one has a real value, character, skill, or ability they are very good at and uses it to define him or her, exaggerates it to show infallibility and disregards his or her empathy while the narcissist does not identify with any specific ability or skill but inflates his or her general self and has no empathy at all.
A person with a god complex cannot accept responsibility for a mistake because he or she believes cannot make mistakes while a person with narcissistic personality disorder cannot accept responsibility for a mistake because this would confirm or trigger underlying feelings of self-hate, low self-esteem, and insecurities.
A person with a god complex has empathy while the one with a narcissistic personality disorder has no empathy.
You can have a god complex without narcissistic personality disorder.
A person with a narcissistic personality disorder has all traits of a god complex while a person with a god complex does not have all traits of a narcissistic personality disorder.
Stages of a god complex.
A god complex is divided into two stages,
A person with stage one god complex has a skill or value he or she believes is so good and feels so infallible when it comes to it. They can accept a mistake in one field they are not so good at but when it comes to that which they have a deep conviction or have invested time to master, they believe they are above anyone else whether other people hold the same expertise or more.
A person at stage one identifies with that one strength they have as a copying or defensive mechanism to deal with insecurities, low self-esteem, emotional turmoil, and other negative feelings. They will commit all their life, energy, and time to it because, without it, they lose themselves.
Take, for instance, John feels insecure, has low self-esteem, and has a lot of emotional wounds. To numb these negative feelings, he commits to becoming very good at basketball. He trains day and night. He identifies himself with basketball and without it he feels worthless.
He becomes so good at it in that he starts to believe that he is better than any other basketball player. Because of his belief that he is the best, he becomes inadvisable when it comes to playing the game.
However, when it comes to other things like writing or playing soccer, John will not mind listening to other people advise him. John is at stage one of the god complex.
He only disregards his empathy when in a situation that contradicts his belief that he is infallible with that skill or career he identifies with. At the cost of anything sometimes even other people’s lives, he or she can defend the perceived infallibility.
Stage two is an advanced form of a god complex. When a person believes in his or her superiority and infallibility in a certain field, skill, or career, they start to believe the same can apply to other aspects of life. They start to believe they are a jack of all trades.
Because mastery in one field brings them a lot of approval, worship, and attention from people, they assume their innate ability in one field gives them automatic access to mastery in other aspects of life.
At stage two, a person with a god complex assumes is exceptional and very special with extreme wisdom, abilities, and consciousness to know what is good, true, needed, and right for everyone.
At stage two a person with a god complex is completely inadvisable in anything. As the person at stage one admits fallibility in aspects they have no mastery in, the one at stage two assumes infallibility in everything whether they have mastery in it or not.
You will often be condescended by this kind of person because he believes he knows you more than you know yourself so you should only do as he decides.
Their commitment to upholding their perceived infallibility and perfect self makes them suppress their empathy. They can recognize what others feel or want but their need to prove their god-like self makes them disregard other people’s needs and feelings.
They demand special attention, respect, and treatment because they believe they are influencers, decision-makers, and the sole support of their society. A long-held god complex at stage two can advance to narcissistic personality disorder.
Examples of a god complex.
One definite and common example of people with a god complex is dictators and their dictatorial governments. Many presidents come into power as great leaders that mobilize other expert leaders in special departments like security, agriculture, finances, etc. These experts make important decisions, that make these departments thrive.
Their leader, the president, takes credit for their work. This then makes him start to feel infallible and starts to influence decisions and government operations as he wishes. He then becomes a dictator with a god complex.
Another common example is parents that raise their children and assume 100% knowledge of what their children are capable of, their dreams, and what they should become or do. They impose careers and lifestyles on their children because in their minds they have a firm infallible belief that they are the only ones that know what is good for their children.
Causes of a god complex.
Excessive Pampering. Showing excess care and attention to someone most especially children without a balance between reward and punishment makes one assume an entitlement and special treatment. This makes one want to be treated like a god. Most common with very beautiful children and good-looking adults who assume their outstanding appearances make them automatically omniscient.
Extreme talent. Very talented sportsmen, sportswomen, musicians, actors, and actresses are ford of having a god complex. Their special abilities in certain talents accord them a lot of attention, privileges, and approval that gives them a god complex that spreads to other aspects of their lives.
Insecurities and emotional wounds. Some people with insecurities, traumas, and emotional wounds deal with their pain and underlying negative feelings by committing their time and energy to nurture and develop a skill, career, business, or talent. When they successfully do it, they identify with that which they have been working for and assume mastery of the self and their environment. In an actual sense, they only have mastery of that career or business and no mastery of their feelings, character, insecurities, fears, environment, etc.
Success. Succeeding in one field or many can make one think they are not capable of failure or making mistakes. This gives one some kind of arrogancy that disregards anyone around them that threatens their falsely perceived god-like or perfect self.
The disparity in ability. If one spends a long time surrounded by people who are way below his level of understanding, knowledge, abilities, skill, strength, etc, he will unconsciously assume a god-like self. He will start to think he is special with special abilities. Once he meets those who can challenge him, he gets some kind of cognitive dissonance that makes him want to impose his initial position of living above his circle.
A disposition or personality trait in which a person experiences a lifelong extensive and deep involvement in fantasy is what we call a fantasy-prone personality. Most of the time a person living in fantasy fantasizes about a good life of superiority and being special. If one does it for too long, he starts to believe that special version of him in the fantasy and starts to live as if he is really that person. He then ends up having a god complex that demands to be treated as a god.
Signs and symptoms
High sense of entitlement. People with a god complex are very entitled requiring special treatment and privilege because of their false perceived special essence and nature.
Exploitative. Because they think they are special and infallible, they use all sorts of ways including exploitative and manipulative tactics to enforce their god or perfect imagination of self.
Poor listening skills. People with a god complex are so poor at listening and often interrupt a person before he or she finishes expressing themselves. They assume to know everything and would block you from speaking because to them you do not know anything more than what they know.
Grandiosity. Just like narcissists, people with a god complex often talk big of themselves and exaggerate their own importance. They demand to be treated above anyone else because they think they are.
Punitive and passive-aggressive. To emphasize their grandiose god-like self and false perceived special essence, they often punish those that disagree with them by demeaning, denigrating, trash-talking, and sometimes assaulting them.
Need for constant praise and admiration. To get along with a person with a god complex, you have to constantly feed them with nothing but praise and admiration. This does not only make them feel alive but also ensures your loyalty to them. According to them, anyone that gives the opposite is deserving of punishment.
Full of fantasies. People with a god complex have a mind of full fantasies that are usually full of delusions and unrealistic imaginations. Often they imagine things that make them believe and feel like a god.
Do compound self-work. Dig deep within you to heal your emotional wounds, traumas, and insecurities. This will enable you to love yourself and identify yourself with who you are instead of a career, job, business, or talent. They are just part of you. They are not you. Being healthy emotionally and mentally makes you confident with yourself needless of anything else to make you feel special or valuable.
Cultivate empathy. The power to identify and respect what other people feel and want is the foundation of good relationships with people. Pay more attention to your empathy than putting your self-centeredness ahead of it.
Effects of having a god complex.
- Poor and unstable relationships.
- Inability to heal underlying emotions.
- Dishonesty which causes distrust from people.
- Reckless spending and extravagance to maintain superiority.
- Poor decision making influenced by delusions and fantasies.
Dealing with a person with a god complex.
Unfortunately, the god complex is not diagnosable. However, this doesn’t mean that it is nonexistent. A mental health professional can examine a person with a god complex and provide therapy through talk therapy.
In case the person with a god complex is not willing to change, understand their behavior through deep research to know how to respond to their statements and any confrontations.
A god complex is uncommon compared to the superiority complex and narcissistic personality disorder. People with this complex usually find it hard to overcome it because of how hard it is for them to find fault in themselves. They are hell-bent to believe that they are not capable of making mistakes and would go to the end of the world to defend that. Have you met one like it? Share with me, please.