The more we build ourselves to become more competent and smart (tremendous and impressive) – become more successful, the smaller is our personality and drier our soul, because we encounter unlimited world outside ourselves and start to notice our smallness and weakness.


Rene Magritte, “Megalomania or Le Folie des Grandeurs”, 1948

The ironical paradox of megalomania is that the stronger our self-respect and bigger our pride become – the smaller our abilities including our understanding of reality. Look at the triple figure on the canvass. The taller the body becomes – the smaller and smaller upper parts of the figure. In other words, the taller we are – the smaller our very tallness is, and likewise the more successful we are the shallower and hollower we become.

The stronger our capacity for building personality and competence – the smaller our very bigness becomes. Why Magritte shows a female body as illustration of what megalomania is? Perhaps it’s because many women’s megalomaniacal self-occupation with their appearance and attractiveness – the very need to become self-aggrandized in front of others (some men also not free from preoccupation with appearance). Megalomania is gradually and silently developing obsession with yourself.

Megalomania usually is considered inadequate if megalomaniac is flattering him/herself. But reality of life is so multiplied and complicated that even if a person has really substantial achievements and objective victories, without bragging in any way (but being just conscious about them) – it can be a form of megalomania. Around us is a world which is so full of mysteries and human mistakes, that the best guesses and brilliant scientific minds can only retrospectively be proven as being mistakes of even the most respectable scientists. Very often the situation is that the greatest discoveries and explanations appeared to be wrong parts of previous findings and truths demanding of re-attention and reconsiderations.

Now let’s focus on some of the details in Magritte’s painting depicting nuances and degrees of megalomaniacal condition of the very world. Multiple megalomania is the condition of human thinking and perception which is supported by human self-encouragement, self-provocation, self-trust, self-reproaches or self-consolations.

In life on Earth human beings are exhausting their megalomaniacal potentials by building the aspects of the world – the deep blueness of the sky, its un-limitlessness, its stability, its density (magnificent cubes we see in the painting), or the “walls” against Mexico, Canada and Palestine, or “new unlimited golf-courses between countries”. Also good occupation for megalomania tired from exhaustion is video-games, casinos, playing with stocks, dangerous sports and electronic toys.

Observing Magritte’s “Megalomania” we notice small candle and flame lightening the sea. The candle and miniature air-balloon above are remnants of an exhausted megalomania represented by the awkward female figure. Instead of being the incarnation of human beauty and fertility the multilayered woman’s figure is a static remnant of a tormenting megalomaniacal efforts. And here we start to understand that Magritte’s “Megalomania” and Eugene Delacroix’s “Liberty” – the woman leading people to freedom, are personification of the alternative between self-sacrificial personal heroism and human psychological vanity of megalomaniacal efforts. Pay attention to the amazing similarity between the position of Liberty’s right arm holding the victorious banner and the wasted – empty gestures of, as if, amputated arms of Megalomania.

The artificial – decorative clouds between the massive heavenly cubes in Magritte’s painting are emphasizing megalomaniac-ally grandiose artificiality of human buildup of pseudo-civilization of rivalry, envy, pomposity, proud comfort, braggadocio, inevitable poverty, bombastic luxury and fiesta of waste.

Magritte’s painting points at the symbol of dire wastefulness of pretentious “greatness”.


Eugène Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People”, 1830


Rene Magritte, “Megalomania or Le Folie des Grandeurs”, 1948