We live in difficult times. Times when the face value of our new Louis Vuitton handbag is comparable with the respect we dish out to the average Joe who spoils our mood in rush-hour traffic. These are the times when every person has to prove his worth to every other bossy-nosed kinsman. Society has not been so judgmental always. In the earlier days, you would think twice before undermining a stranger who steals your precious thunder. Days when good nature was a byword for gentlemanliness. Sadly, those days are long gone. A part of the blame lands on the sort of people who consider the universe to exist around them. Such people, as a layman like me would describe them, are egomaniacs. Now, basically what an egomaniac is, is a person of the “too good for this world” sort. Their behaviour towards life is almost mind-blowingly imperious. They are of the sorts who are most likely to have a disdained judgment of other people and a supercilious moral conduct.
Now, this issue is more alarming than we like to think. Condescension and judging oneself as the superior has always landed egomaniacs in the wrong walks of life. We often dislike people who have more ego than necessary. Rightfully so, it is human nature. Neither do we like to be inferior nor do we like others to be superior. We certainly do not want to think on the same lines either. That is where the problem lies, you see. Egomaniacs force us to think on those lines. This creates tension in the society and that is never welcome. Relationships are hampered, job environments are bothered, and everything falls in disarray.
Why are egomaniacs what they are? How does a person turn into one? There are hundreds of theories about this. Dr. David Reinstein, one of the world’s foremost authorities on human psychology mentioned in his most recent article: “Most egomaniacs suffer from delusions of personal greatness that cover over deeper feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Everything is to, for, from, and about them”. This simple excerpt defines the how and why of egomania. Research has revealed that the primary reason for egomania is insecurity and improper upbringing. A person who has faced a lot of failures and rejections is most likely to grow up into an egomaniac. He is constantly trying to build up a world around him where he does not have to face a trial-by-fire every day. A world where he is All-Hailed and respected. We are only standing in his way. On boosting his self-conceit, he is only trying to make up for the misgivings in his gloomy past. It is our fault because we are unable to give him the illusive shimmer of hope that he has been chasing all his life. By letting him be, no one is getting hurt. So, why don’t we do that?
As mentioned in a crux earlier, it is only human to not feel inferior. The sole reason for this is that deep down, every one of us wants to rule the world. Let us just go ahead and accept that—yes we do. Naturally, when we see someone who is halfway through his realisation, we just cannot bear with that. We chaff at them our well-versed words in a sugarcoated bowl of sarcasm. We like doing that. It cancels out the insecurity that we are feeling from their condescension. It is all a game of power in the end. We are the ones who are being naïve by letting the average egomaniac take the better of us. Diplomatic people-pleasers, grow up!
We, now, turn our attention to a completely different point: Is egomania really a bad thing? Steve Jobs, one of the all-time greats of technology was a complete power-maniac. He wanted everyone to follow him. He was a king in long hair and bootleg jeans. He was so disliked by his men because of his ego that he was once shown the door out of the company he created. Yet, look at what he did. We love him, respect him and consider him to be our preacher. Well, at least I do. Is it because he achieved so much that people who knew him from a distance adored him? Maybe so. Alexander, The Great, one of the best leaders history has ever seen was also a raging egomaniac. In fact, he was so good at being so, it led him to his downfall, betrayed by his own people. As a child, because of his mother’s continuous praise, he began to think he was God, and God he was. His battle tactics and stories are still read about and followed, 2000 years after him. Thus, we can come to an easy conclusion here. Egomaniacs are not always bad people. Sometimes, ego comes along with confidence and repeated successes.
Clearly, there are two kinds of egomaniacs: The ones who have survived a past of emotional depravity and the ones who have faced enough successes to wrap their being with a shroud of fortitude. The message society is trying to put forward is: It is perfectly justified to be of the second kind but not the first. Be on the same pages as inspirational greats or bow down to the challenges of everyday life.
The problem of egomania and its ill-effects on society can be thus resolved by active participation of the minds in both sides of an egomaniac pair of eyes. As John Lennon, one of my personal heroes puts it: “If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that. I believe in what
I do, and I’ll say it.”
Photography By: Zubair Alam