Oh sure, Pinky and the Brain are hilarious. Their bungled attempts to take over the world make us all laugh, at their mishaps and the very irony that two lab rats could achieve global domination. However, there are real megalomaniacs out there. And if you have to work with one of them, megalomania will become a whole helluva lot less funny.

A friend told me about someone she worked with, someone to whom she referred as "The Brain" (although an altogether different part of the anatomy might have been more appropriate). This person was (still is, I suppose) very intelligent, and we think this was a contributing factor to his megalomania. He was so used to being right about many facts that he was as sure each and every opinion of his was as correct. We aren't talking about being just a little opinionated, he seriously thought that people who held different opinions than him were utter morons. This was as true for big issues, such as the best way to spend $1 million dollars, as for small issues, like which font is best used for PowerPoint presentations. Trying to argue an opposing position was cause for an hour-long debate, which would only end in him saying he wasn't dissuaded from his opinion, and therefore all shall adopt his position.

Such was his megalomania and egomania that all discussions centered around his opinions. My friend was conditioned to always have in mind the question, "What will The Brain think about this?" Even now she is torn in her new work questioning whether The Brain would think it a "colossal waste of time" or at least of "minimal interest". (Anything of "maximal interest" being already underway by The Brain himself, by definition.) She takes a little pleasure in imagining that she is flying in the face of all his opinions, but on the other hand, his opinions weren't all asinine, although a great deal of them were. She's conditioned not only to think about his opinion, but also to defy it out of frustration.

The moral of the story is that it is great to associate with brilliant people, but that one should not sacrifice too much autonomy nor accept being micromanaged. Megalomania is something you want only to deal with in cartoon form. Unfortunately, if you are doing something important, you are likely to encounter one. Take this warning and refuse to be assimilated. Participate in your own manipulation.

I'm not a professional psychologist, so the above reflect my own megalomaniacal opinions rather than any clinical diagnosis.