Egocentricity emerges when we split our ego/self, or split a communal whole into «them» and «us». We then avoid focusing on the whole self or social group, and vigorously pursue our own interests regardless. The highestto is a direct challenge to this seductive option.
The use of splitting is a delusionary promise that it is possible to disconnect from fear, pain and anything we dislike. But delusions only provide a portion of the benefit we seek. They usually give us a sense of safety and lessened pain, but they never provide the substance of safety or resolve the cause of pain.
Inherent in psychological existence is the inner-outer inter-mixing of evil with good. Correspondingly, the easiest way to handle inner evil is to split the self. Personal mental contents and their social counterparts are divided into good and bad, and then the bad is perceived within a suitable person or group. This is called splitting and projection in the psychodynamic literature. It sets up a polarization such that the person genuinely experiences as full of goodness and good tendencies and sees as full of not just bad, but evil and evil tendencies.
The difference between «us» and «them» is then trumpeted and used to justify the unmitigated discharge of hostility on «them».
The more people collude in projection and scapegoating, the stronger each is certain about their rightness and justification. The preference then is to eradicate «the other» and rid the world (at last!) of great evil. So here is a predisposing source for social divisions, war and genocide.
However, even in justifiable wars, leaders demonize, scapegoat and dehumanize the «enemy» to intensify hostility and reduce healthy guilt within their own soldiers at killing (i.e. murdering) others.
We are born with intrinsic egocentricity hard-wired in our brains due to our evolutionary emergence from animals. That blinds us (or strives to blind us) to the whole within which our portion (or perspective or self) is but a part. Animal instincts aside, egocentricity operates continuously to disconnect us for at least three reasons:
Our Limited Perspective: While unavoidable, this limitation can be rather easily handled. If I just stop and think, it is evident that I and my things (and every other «I» and their things), are part of something greater. And any part only has meaning because of the whole to which it belongs. Except for trivial items, we cannot see the whole of anything significant, like our extended family, our town, or our organization. We can barely imagine the whole of social history, or of human existence or of the universe. But we can know, for practical purposes, that «the whole» exists. The whole may be inconceivable, but it is not imaginary.
Our Fears: Handling our fears is harder because that demands an awareness which itself causes emotional distress and pain. Above all, we fear insignificance: being nothing, having no value. Self-esteem is a need and it shows as a wish to be special, unique, recognized, appreciated, valued. When there is a deficit for any reason, egocentricity takes centre stage and forces others to notice us. Ambition then gets out of hand and becomes self-aggrandizement. The ego often prefers that we be denigrated, reviled and hated rather than ignored and forgotten.
Other fears—of injury, illness, separation, loss and death—come to the fore when self-esteem is more secure. These fears, all relating to common and normal events in human life, create a sense of vulnerability. We each want to protect ourselves and survive. Some wish to become immortal.
The urge to remove fear and avoid suffering generates a highly egocentric focus. We cease caring about others, especially if they are unknown or faceless. We start using and treating people as instruments of our own goals rather than seeing each as like us and deserving attention and consideration. More seriously, we adopt the final solution: whatever is bad within ourselves is projected on to others. Groups exaggerate these fears unconsciously, and generate leaders who foster splitting and projection and deliberately make promises that are unrealistic or make matters worse.
Our Groups: Groups embody differences among us that we judge to be important. However, collectivities, sometimes dignified with terms like superorganisme.g. in "The Lucifer Principle" by Howard Bloom, that regards evolution as «violent competition» and intrinsically evil, leading unavoidably to hierarchies and wars between societies., are not human entities as such. They do not have , or as individual persons do. As a result, they have no intrinsic inner restraint that is distinct from the capacity of the majority of the members to restrain themselves and each other.
It is easy for an exaggerated superiority to be projected into our groups. At the extreme, the group unleashes horrific violence on individuals within and without, limited only by its size and wealth. Any organized group pressures all of its members to participate fully. It then uses its most primitive members to violate the integrity of any who stand up to evil proposals. See more.
Originally posted: 7-Dec-2012