In Jungian psychology, Inflation can be defined as:
An overexpansion of the personality through identification with an archetype or, in pathological cases, with a historical or religious figure, which exceeds individual limitations. (ref Definitions of Jungian Terms)
This definition is especially relevant in considering certain apparently narcissistic gurus who are stuck in the Intermediate Zone. The only difference I would make would be to replace "archetype" with my own equivalent term, "attractor". Also, it should be pointed out that these gurus are not delusional in the way a schizophrenic is (although there may be a number of superficial similarities, this led me to misinterpret one IZ guru, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, as schizophrenic, in an inlist email which was leaked to PNB followers)
Inflation, as defined here, is not the same as narcissism. Narcissism is an extreme form of egotism, which is associated (in the case of so-called gurus as well as ordinary people) with gross emotional immaturity, lack of empathy, and even child-like behaviour (not child-like in the sense of innocence, but in the sense of selfish, wanton, unrestrained, uncaring). It pertains to lack of development of the affective body and when excessive results in the narcissistic personality disorder.
Inflation is something quite different. It may occur even when a person, they may be a partially enlightened guru or sadhak for example, or a person on a drug trip, or having a psychotic experience, contacts something much vaster than their small human personality and is swallowed up by it, so that they identify with it and confuse their little human personalities with this much larger power. I call these big vast things "attractors". In the olden days they were called "gods" (this term is retained by contemporary hermeticists). Jung calls them "archetypes". It really doesn't matter what name one uses, or what conceptuual framework. What does matter is the reality of these forces.
The "place" (actually not an ontological reality, but a stage of spiritual development and opening to larger realities) where attractors are often found is the intermediate zone. This is where most people who have some experiences end up. Having had some experience, they then think they have the complete picture, that they are supremely enlightened, and make other ostentatious claims. These claims come about because they still have an ego, a locus of separate identity. They do not have to involve attractors. In fact Intermediate Zone Gurus who are non-narcisstic (i.e. who are emotionally mature) and who have not been captured by an attractor, can constitute authentic teachers, but only if there is in them an Inner Divine sincerity.
In the case of a guru who has had an experience of an attractor, or simply been possessed by one, or used in order to further some unfolding or agenda in the external or even the subtle world, the case is very different. Such a guru is an ambiguious figure, possessed of enormous charismatic power. The power has nothing to do with their petty little personality. It comes from the Attractor. Without that power, no-one would follow these people; why would you follow someone who may have a greatly inferior moral and spiritual consciousness to the average person? Or even if they don't, they are still no better than Joe Bloggs, once the power of the attractor and the intermediate zone charisma is taken away.
Through inflation, one may be be manipulated by or partake of the emanation of a class of astral entity or attractor called "luciferic" (to borrow Steiner's term - see Three Streams of Evolution). When unbalanced, Narcissism , which seems to be a common trait among many false and intermediate zone gurus. The result is a Delusional guru or master, who through ego-inflation and identification with attractors, fancies themselves possessing a spiritual status that in fact they do not really have.
The follower, through the act of following, of opening themself, themself partakes of identification with or being swallowed up by the attractor. But because they are followers, and lack the strength of personality or character or emotional or spiritual maturity to follow their own inner guidance, they cannot say that they are the attractor. Their identification comes through projecting an idealised ego image onto the guru
There are two types of Delusional Guru; the Narcissistic and the Inflational. Although superficially similar, these delusions have a different origin, although it is cobnceivably possible to have both in the same person (that would be a pretty obnoxious so-called furu!) . In both forms they genuinely believe that they are enlightened beings, avatars, and so on, when in fact their consciousness has not attained that status. The Narcissist however does not go beyond the ordinary egoic identification at the level of the basic avidya surface consciousness (even if they believe they do). The Inflationist has, but has attained a sort of psychotic identification with an Attractor, they have in other words lost touch with common-sense reality. The Narcissist lacks empathy. The Inflationist lacks any sense of perspective at all.
The Inflational Delusional Guru is highly charismatic and may or may not be narcissistic. Genuinely believing they are an enlightened being or avatar, their inspirations do indeed come from beyond the ordinary mundane consciousness (the same can be said for schizophrenics, psychedelic drug experiences, and so on). in some cases they may be inspired by the false light of lower astral or adverse powers, in other cases the experiences would seem to derive ultimately from the mixed lights of the Intermediate Zone. All this depends on the samaskaras and personality and egotism or lack thereof of the guru in question. Whatever the nature of the experience, they identify it with the Absolute, with God, or with their own inflated ego. Even if they have authentic transcendent enlightenment experiences of the Intermediate Zone, this may (or may not) be distorted with side effects such as paranoia, and secondary mental and emotional self-deception.
They may still retaining some measure of personality, perhaps a lot, especially if there is also narcissism also involved in their make up. In this latter case, where both narcissism and inflation is present, the delusional guru will have tied up a lot of egotism and ego-defense mechanisms in this belief, and when their claims are challenged they become extremely defenisive and hostile and engage in rampant shadow projection on the wicked person or people who would dare imply such a thing. They also may (or may not) encourage their devotees to behave in such a way too.
The following charactereristics are suggested as a definition of the Inflational Delusional Guru type:
While Inflational Delusional gurus are not actually schizophrenic, being much as lucid and competent as any normal person, they do constitute a sort of tendency towards psychosis, paranoia, and schizophrenia. In addition, they cannot distinguish their attractor-induced fantasies from reality. So even if this does not mean that they are schizophrenic, they still do have some of that same attributes.