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« Intelligent Design by an Insane God | Main | Fugitives as Governors in Nigeria? Dariye & Alamie!: The Tragedy of Looting Governor Alamieyesegha of Bayelsa »

November 22, 2005

Self Concept and its Problems

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- One of the tragedies of contemporary Nigerian society is that people are so busy with the struggle for physical survival that few have the time to think about the higher issues of existence. Everywhere you turn to, the talk you hear is how to make money and become a socially important person.

Think about them or not, however, higher existential issues are there and exercise enormous influence on our lives.

Consider the issue of self, the object of our present interest. Every culture known to man ponders the self, its nature and what to do about it. Those ponderings led to religion, philosophy and metaphysics. Every known human group developed religion and had philosophy and metaphysics. (Metaphysics is the educated man’s religion; it is an attempt to prove the existence of God through ratiocinative processes. Where most religionists accept their inherited religions on faith, the metaphysician attempts to use reason and logic to prove the existence of God. In his efforts to understand the nature of God, he, ultimately, finds out that God is beyond his rational understanding and is beyond matter hence metaphysics, meta-science.)
In contemporary Nigeria, people are so engrossed with the economic struggles for survival that those who normally gravitated to metaphysics, the philosophical element of society ignore it. Luckily, the masses have not totally abandoned religion.

Unfortunately, however, as is well known, the masses often gravitate to what we might call magical thinking. Thus in Nigeria, many of those who attend the mushrooming Pentecostal religions are no more than engaging in irrational thinking. For example, may of them believe that if they please God long enough by chanting a few prayers that he would give them what they ask from him, usually money and power? (Some of them even pray for the power of juju, to kill their neighbors.) Indeed, some of the ministers of these incipient religions are no more than charlatans trafficking in superstition.

These folks tell the masses that they are conduit to God and can make God do for them whatever they ask through them; they promise to heal the physically ill. Of course, they cannot do any of these things; all they seem to do is con the people out of their hard earned monies and leave them in the lurch.

Physical scientists point out that the material universe has its own laws, laws that can be studied and understood by science and technologies devised to adapt to them. No amount of magical wishes makes nature give us what we ask for. What makes it possible for us to extract sustenance from nature is the understanding of the laws of physics, chemistry and biology and manipulating them through technology. The human body, a biological system, for example, has its own laws. You have to understand them and live accordingly. If you violate biological laws, you get sick and must be treated with medications that medical science and technology designed. Praying to magical gods would not heal bodies that bad living has damaged; only medical science could heal them.

The philosophical elements of society are generally responsible for making sure that religion does not degenerate into magical thinking. They do so by injecting reason into people’s religious thinking. Whereas, ultimately, the ways of God is beyond human understanding, yet, the injection of some reason into religious discourse enables the masses not to engage in irrational religious practices.

The intellectual elements of Nigeria have abnegated their function and religion in Nigeria has devolved to primitive practices. For all the religiosity seen in the masses of Nigeria, we can actually say that Nigerians are irreligious! For example, one of the hall marks of true religion is serving other people. How many Nigerians do you know engage in a life of social service without asking what is in it for him? There are churches everywhere in Nigeria but very few of the religionists actually understand the import of worshipping God. God is love. Those who worship God are loving people. Loving people serve their fellow human beings. The last time I checked, I saw very few Nigerians who actually served other Nigerians’ interests. If there were true religionists in Nigeria, we would not have the absurd level of corruption we have in the country. A person of God does not take bribery or steal from the public treasury. Simply stated, though many Nigerians go to church, they are actually heathen and know little about God.

Each of us has a separated self that wants to seem important in the individual’s and other people’s eyes. This is generally called human nature.

But here is the problem. As long as you think that you have a separated, important self you must suffer. You must live in psychological pain and suffer to the extent that you believe that you have a separated important self. This is the fact of human living.

Another way of putting it is that to the extent that you believe that you have an important separated self you are in jail. To have a separated, important self is to live in hell, a hell of ones making.

In as much as all human beings believe, at least initially, that they have important, separated selves, they are living in private hells and private prisons; they suffer tremendous psychological pain.

To not suffer psychological pain, to be freed from ones private hell and jailhouse we live in, the individual must find a way to convince himself that he does not have a separated, important self.

To the extent that you know that you do not have a separated important self and behave accordingly, you tend to be happy, peaceful.

To the extent that you believe that you have a separated important self and behave accordingly, you tend to live in fear, and are prone to anxiety, depression, paranoia and other mental upsets.

If you believe that you have a separated important self, you tend to be proud and subject to shame feeling.

To have a separated, important self is to be unhappy. Yet to be a human being is to have a sense of separated important self. In fact, what it means to be a human being is the struggle to invent a separated, important self for ones self and to struggle to actualize that imaginary important self.

Neurosis, and to a greater degree psychosis, is a misguided and compulsive effort to realize an imaginary separated, important self. The neurotic (which is every human being) and the psychotic (which is the two percent of the human population that is insane) struggle in an obsessive-compulsive manner to actualize privately constructed important, separated selves.

All people are prisoners of this struggle to become a self they themselves invented; selves that they do not know for sure are real. As far as we know, when we die, our bodies decompose and the personalities that those bodies evolved die with them.

The self the individual knows of is a product of his bio-social experiences and ceases with the death of his body.

Is there another self other than the self that adapts to body and society?


All the religions of mankind aim at helping the individual to understand and reduce his sense of having a separated important self. Religion is traditional psychotherapy for shrinking the swollen self of human beings.

Given human egoism, without religion to shrink their egos, human beings would probably destroy themselves. It seems that society cannot exist without religion?

Religion shrinks the human ego, the sense of having a separated important self to normal proportions and makes it possible for people to get along with each other. Left to their own devices, without religion, people would invent such imaginary important selves that in pursuit of actualizing them they would enslave and murder each other.
Look at Nigeria. Many people think that her problem is only economic. But her real problem is really spiritual.

How so, you ask? They believe that they have separated important selves. They are motivated to realize their assumed separated important selves. They are seeking existential and social importance. Their greatest wish is to become rich (by all means necessary, including stealing) and to have political power. They understand that wealth and political power would give them the opportunity to seem socially important. Wealth and power enables them to gratify their narcissistic desire to be very important persons. Thus they seek to be called Dr Professor chief, engineer Alhaji this or that. Their goal is to have society affirm and validate their importance.

But who is the self that is important? What self are they trying to make important? Herein lays the problem.

These people are like insane persons; they believe that they have separated selves and want those selves to become important. But do they have separated selves? A self that feels so insecure that it must always do something to make itself seem secure and powerful, when you come to think of it, is not a worthwhile and powerful self. If the self is important, it ought to be self evidently so and we need do nothing to make it so. Actually, the self that we rejected, the self that God created, the unified self, is inherently worthwhile; we cannot add or subtract from its value. It is the self we made, the separated self housed in body that is perpetually valueless and there is nothing that we can do to make it valuable.

Let us see what Gautama Buddha said on the subject. Buddha said that the human personality is a pipe smoke.

Buddhism aims at enabling the individual to get rid of his assumed sense of separated self. In meditation, the Buddhist consciously tries to deconstruct his mentally constructed self concept and self image. He consciously tells himself that he has no self concept and no self image. He tells himself that the self he is currently aware of, the separated self, does not exist, and is noise. He tells himself that his current thinking, based on the separated, important, aka ego self, is mere ego chattering. He rejects all ego based conceptual categories. He struggles to become calm, silent and to eliminate all separated, ego based thinking from his mind. His goal is to become still, to empty his mind of all ego self concepts, ego self images, ego thinking. He aims at becoming a selfless void. He believes that if he attains emptiness of mind that he would get in touch with his real self. He does not know what that real self is but he thinks that there is a real self. Buddha teaches that the real self is unified spirit self, or simply life itself. Unified spirit self has a different consciousness that is different from the consciousness of our separated self.

The Hindu, the Buddhist, the Christian mystic, the Islamic Sufi all struggle to eliminate their selves with the understanding that there is another self, a better self that they ought to become.

On the other hand, the Nigerian wants to affirm his separated, important self. Every where, the Nigerian presents his vain self for you to validate.

If only these people recognized that the self they are trying to make important is a fictional self, a phantom self, a fantasy that, at best, is temporary. The self that we are aware of exists in the world of illusions, in dreams and is not real. If only these people knew that there is another self, a better self to aim at attaining.

All the religions of mankind assert that there is another self, a real self. That self is not the self we are conscious of. We are currently conscious of separated, important selves. Our real self is unified spirit self.

Neither I nor any one living in the temporal universe can describe the real self. It is beyond words. It is ineffable. It cannot be understood with words, for language is an adaptation to the separated world, the world of division and multiplicity. Speech assumes the existence of a you and I, seer and seen, subject and object. Speech assumes the world of space, time and matter, our world. But there is another world, a unified world where every thing is simultaneously unified and individuated. The real self is one and yet infinite selves. That real self is eternal, immortal, permanent, changeless and all knowing (it knows itself as one and many).

I have made the assertion that there is another self. I know that that self is real but I also know that it is beyond human ordinary consciousness hence that there is no way the reader can ascertain it.

Religion generally urges people to have faith in that real self. But faith is not enough for our rational age. Telling some one to have faith in God is not a good way to make an argument and convince the skeptic. In the age of science, you must provide proof that what you claim to exist in fact exists.

Is there any proof that God exists? You have to find out for yourself whether it exists or not. Nobody else can provide you with proof that God exists.

God is an inner experience that when you experience it you know beyond all intellectual jabbering that he is real. In fact, God is the only reality there is. God is, and all else is noise.

To experience God you must meet his conditions. Here lies the problem. His condition is that you return to being as he created you. This means that you must give up your current sense of self. Each of us invented a different self, a replacement and substitute self, and identifies with that false self. We must give up the false self we made and accept the real self that God created us as. You must first give up the separated, important self you invented before you can experience the unified self God created you as.


To experience God, as all the founders of the universal religions: Krishna, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed etc teach, you must voluntarily give up your separated, important self and accept that you do not know who your real self is and ask God to reveal your real self to you. Additionally, you must love and forgive all people. You must forgive all those who have done wrong to you. You must look at the person who did the most egregious thing to you, as understood by your ego, in the eye and say: I forgive you, and mean it.
To forgive is to overlook what is done in the world, to see it as unreal. To forgive is to judge the world as an illusion and overlook it; to forgive is to experience the real world, the unified world of God. To forgive is to see the world and what is done in it as things done in dreams and awaken from that dream: unreal self, unreal world.
To forgive is to love. To love is to return to the world as it was created by God, the unified world. Love is union; to love is to return to the awareness of union, hence to return to heaven and its God.
To forgive and love is to do what the prodigal son did; to recognize that he made a mistake in thinking that separated and important self is possible and correct that mistake by giving up separated important self and returning to unified self, to God, his father, to heaven.

In the temporal world, each off us believes that he has a separated, important self. The separated, important self is an illusion.
The Nigerian takes the illusion of separated, important self as real and wants to affirm it; he wants every person to collude with him and tell him that his fictional important self is real.
The Nigeria seldom pays attention to the deeper teaching of religion, the need to shrink his ego down to acceptable proportions. All religions teach that the ego must be shrunk down and that eventually it is necessary to give the ego up altogether. To return to union, one must give up separation; to live as unified self, the real son of God, Christ self, one must give up the false self, the ego, and the antichrist.
It is difficult to give the separated ego up, for if it were given up one exits from this world. As long as one lives in this world of separation, one must have a separated self. The best one can do is improving that separated self and use it to love other seeming separated selves.


Christianity and Islam encourage people to pray. In prayer, one minimizes ego.

These two religions encourage people to always have their prayer beads (in the case of the Catholic Church, the rosary). When the ego tempts the individual to feel that he is in charge of his life, he is told to pray to God to guide him.

When you are chanting Hail Mary, Our Lord’s prayer and other prayers, you are saying, in effect, that you are not in control of your life, and that God is in charge. This behavior helps to shrink your ego. The individual needs to pray regularly, so as to shrink and normalize his ego.

Ultimately, one must sit down in meditation and try to negate ones ego; one must try to escape from the self one constructed for one, so as to return to the awareness of the self God created one as. One must consciously extinguish ones self concept, ones self image and ones personality. One must let go of the self we made to replace the self God created us as.

When we let go of our false ego selves, forgive and love all people, we finally escape from the prison house called the ego; we become emancipated from the hell called separated, important self; we attain peace and joy and overcome all the mental upsets attendant to having egos; one no longer gives in to fear, shame, anxiety, pride, sadness, paranoia, schizophrenia, mania etc.

All religions recognize that to be a human being is to have a sense of separated important self. All religions recognize that this is the real human problem. All religions recognize that as long as human beings think that they have separated important selves and strive to live as such that they live in hell and in prison of their own making.

People are slaves of their egos. (I was a slave of my ego; I was totally devoted to actualizing my false ideal self.)

As long as people are seeking to actualize their fictional selves they are in hell, for they must be fearful, prone to depression, paranoia, even schizophrenia and mania.

Psychology is an infant profession; it is about a hundred years old. Hundred years is not a long time to develop wisdom. Psychology is filled with fads. Just about every Western Psychologist has his own pet theory of what human nature is, most of which are false. Philosophy, despite thousands of years of trying, could not define human nature, neither would psychology. Human nature is more than meets the eyes; we are spiritual beings having physical experience; we are not just our bodies and mind is not epiphenomenal as reductionistic biological secular psychology suggests. Nevertheless, Psychology is becoming adult. The more it grows up, the more it recognizes what religion knew all along, that is, that the problem of man is his belief that he has a separated self and pursuit of that false self.

Psychology, like religion before it, is learning to help people, through psychotherapy, to understand that their so-called normal self, their neurotic self, and their psychotic self are varieties of the same mistaken self, the belief that one has a separated, important self.

In this light, Nigerians need some one to help them shrink their vain glory seeking selves. Whereas, we all must have separated selves to live in this world that self is not our real self.
Nigerians need spiritual psychologists, aka ministers of God, to help them understand that their real selves are the unified self that the various religions of mankind teach. They need help with becoming in touch with their unified self, so as to live peaceful and happy lives.

At present, they are so misguided that all they do is seek to become the fictional ideal selves they invented for themselves, selves they want to use to replace the self that God created them as. As long they pursue those false selves, they must live in pain and suffer. Their lives must be chaotic. Their country must be hell.

Nigeria is bedlam, literally, not figuratively. Nigerians live in an insane asylum where they are trying to become false selves that they are not. They need to become sane and transform their country to a healthy place where people are trying to live out of their real selves, which is spirit self.

We cannot attain spirit and still live in a material world. In as much as we want to live in a material world, and we are permitted to do so, we can learn to live spirit like lives.


In our minds are two possible ways of thinking and behaving. We have already chosen to think and behave as the separated, important self. It is that choice that led to the origin of this temporal world. That choice is what the various religions call the Original sin, the choice to separate from our real self, to separate from each other and to separate from God. That sin brought us to this world.

All religions seek ways to reduce that so-called original sin. As long as we live in separation, we live in sin, but sin can be reduced if we learn to replicate our original home on earth. In our real home, in God, we are loving creatures. On earth, in separation, if we learn to love and forgive one another we reduce our sinfulness. All unloving acts are sinful; all loving acts are sinless. To forgive and love is to return to the world of sinlessness, guiltlessness and innocence, the world and self as God created them.

Every time you are about to think and behave ask yourself from what part of your mind you are thinking and behaving from? Are you thinking and behaving from your ego mind or from your Christ mind, from hate or from love, from separation or from union?

If you think and behave from a loving and forgiving part of your mind, which, in the here and now, translates to serving all mankind, you are approximating your thinking in heaven. When you think from love and forgiveness perspective, because you approximate haven, you tend to feel a bit like you are in heaven: peaceful and happy. You are, as it were, living at the gate of heaven.

On the other hand, you can choose to think and behave from your separated and important self. If you do, you tend to seek to optimize your self interest at the expense of other people’s interests. You tend not to care for social and common interests. You may succeed at the material level; in fact, you are most likely going to succeed, for the world was designed to make the ego successful. However, at the psychological level, you pay a heavy price, you will not receive the gifts of God: peace and joy; you tend to live in chaos and conflict.

Do you need evidence? Look at Nigeria and see what the ego/devil has made. Nigerians, that is, unmitigated egotists, live mostly for their individuated selves and seek to be important at all times. The result is that they live in conflict; they lack peace and joy. Nigeria is hell on earth.

Nigeria is Satan’s own country. Nigeria is the prison house of the ego separated self. When I see Nigerians I see a suffering people. But I know that they brought their suffering to themselves by pursuing unmitigated egoism and vanity.

I have compassion for Nigerians but I also know that as adults they have free will to choose differently. The president of the Nigerian Senate, Nnamani, just ordered an armored car, reportedly worth the annual income of hundreds of Nigerians. Why not be humble and buy a Volkswagen? Somewhere in this man’s mind, he knows that what he did was wrong. He must, therefore, pay a stiff price for his criminal thinking and behavior. He cannot experience the gifts of God: peace and happiness. His immodesty, his lack of humility, his grandiosity, a leader in a banana republic where millions are starving and he spends that kind of money on a car is nothing short of sinfulness.

At present, Nigerians chose to live out of the ego, which religion anthropomorphizes as Satan? They live egoistic, that is, satanic existence, and necessarily takes the consequences of their life styles: chaos.


There is a law of cause and effect operating in the universe. Whatever we do has consequences for us. If you smoke you may develop clung cancer. If you drink alcohol you may damage your liver. If you eat too much food, you may get fat, clog your arteries and die from cardiovascular diseases. If you do not exercise regularly you may develop medical problems. At the social level, if you choose to not care for other people and live for yourself and, perhaps, for your family only, as is the case with Nigerians, you get Nigeria, hell on earth.

You cannot cheat the universe, for the universe is a lawful place. As a lawful place, the universe does not make compromises. Your thinking and behavior are causes of the effects you see in your life. Think and behave differently and see different effects in your life.

If you want the gifts of God, peace and joy, then do Godly things, love and forgive all and serve all people. There are no two ways of going about it.


It is not necessary to approach the self from only a religious perspective. What is necessary is that it must be shrunk, one way or another. The self is a problematic thing; left alone, it seeks self interest and must be redirected to serving social interest.

Where there is failure to redirect the self to serving social interests, people become pure egotists and serve only their self interests, and the result is chaos, as in Nigeria. Generally, the easiest way to redirect the ego is through religion and its teaching that people love God and love one another. Every society has religion and through it enables its people to understand the nature of their real self and their temporal selves. Religion enables society to raise children in such a manner that they serve the interest of society. Religion, unfortunately, often attempts to achieve its goal through fear; telling people that if they did not love and care for one another that they would go to hell and burn for eternity; this generates fear of punishment in people. Admittedly, that fear of punishment may dispose some persons to love other people but love is not to be obtained through fear. We could do better than using fear to get people to do the right thing.

Love is the opposite of fear and fear is the opposite of love. Where there is love, union, there is no fear; conversely, where there is fear there is no love. (Are you a very fearful person? If so, you are not a loving person; you separated from other people. If you are a less fearful person, you are a loving person and tend to unify with all God’s Children.)

Those who consider themselves rational often reject the bases of religion. Generally, during their adolescent years, young persons whose mental disposition makes them not amenable to accepting any proposition on faith declare their independence from organized religion and stop going to Church, Mosque and temple. These young persons provide rational, even scientific evidence why God cannot exist.
Speaking for myself, at fourteen, I rejected the Christian religion that I was socialized in. I did not see how a supposedly loving God could oversee an unjust world. I read about earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, draughts, plagues, virus, bacteria, fungus and other natural disasters that wiped out thousands of human beings. I could not square those ugly facts with Christianity’s postulation that a loving God cares for us. I read Charles Darwin’s Origen of Species and that ended my affiliation with formal religion. I said goodbye to Catholicism and gravitated to secular thinking.

Many young people, all over the world, reject their inherited religions and try using their reason to solve the problems of existence. They adopt rational secular humanism, the belief that pure reason alone can solve human problems and that we do not need, as I used to say: “The God hypothesis”. These young people, like adults before them, will fail and not use pure reason and science to explicate the nature of reality. Many of them will become disillusioned. This is to be expected.

What needs to be done is to help these young persons find a way to deal with their selves. As noted, religion is the easiest way society shrinks the individual’s ego self concept to normal proportions. If the individual falls out of religion, as some will, society must find other mechanisms to teach them social service.
Boys scout and the military are useful training for transcending the individuated self and devoting ones life to serving common interests. Even indoctrination into those political ideologies that preach social interests, such as socialism and communism, serve some useful interests. The socialist, if he is genuinely so, works for the collectivity, for society. His ego is thus civilized (made to live in the city, to live for the collectivity, to serve society).

The worse thing that could happen to a young person is for him to be left alone, so that he develops a self that thinks only of its self interests and not social interests. It is those persons who were not trained to serve social interests that tend to gravitate to only self interested behavior at the expense of social interests. Some of these people become anti social personalities, criminals. When these persons enter into politics, they do so to serve only their self interests. They are the narcissistic politicians we see in Nigeria.


People who are not trained in psychology tend to have weird notions of what it means to be mentally ill.

Mental illnesses actually mean having a selfish separated, important self. The normal person somehow thinks of himself and other people and figures out a way to serve both.

The neurotic person (all people in degrees) posits a big self concept, a self that thinks that it is better than other people, wants to feel superior to other people and pursues the actualization of that fictional ideal and superior self. In the process, the neurotic experiences anxiety: fear of not realizing his imaginary important self. At school, his imaginary ego ideal wants to be the best student and he fears making poor grades hence lives in anxiety; at work he wants to become the best at what he does and lives in anxiety of not being the best.

In psychosis, what most people call mental disorder (schizophrenia, mania, clinical depression and delusional disorder), the individual goes beyond neurosis and believes that his wished for imaginary big self is real. In psychosis the individual hallucinates in one or more of the five senses and is deluded.

The normal-neurotic person wishes that he were very important, Godlike, but knows that he is not so, though he compulsively desires to be so.

The psychotic, on the other hand, has lost the ability to test reality and simply believes that he is now what he wishes to be, a very important person. Whereas in childhood, he had wished to be a very important person, godlike, in psychosis (which generally occurs between ages 17-27), the person now believes that he is his wishes. He fancies himself the most important person on earth, the most beautiful woman on earth; in a word, he is now a pretentious powerful god. Of course, he is none of those things. He is an ordinary human being and merely pretends to be all powerful. Generally, he presents his desired fictional important self to normal persons and they laugh at him. Since he is convinced that he is the fictional Jesus Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, Napoleon, Hitler or whatever personage in his world is seen as an important person that he identifies with, the psychotic drifts away from normal society and lives in his own world, a world of fantasy where he thinks that his wishes are real. Go to the nearest psychiatric hospital and behold paranoid schizophrenics telling you that they are god, manic-depressives, aka Bipolar affectively disordered persons, telling you that they are the richest, most powerful and most famous persons on earth; deluded persons telling you that every person is out to get them, poison them, kill them etc and they hiding from these imaginary detractors. One must be very important for other persons to have nothing better to do with their lives than seek ways to kill one. Paranoia is a function of deluded big self, a self that is so important that other selves want to kill it.

You do not have to go to psychiatric hospitals to behold what the ego has made. Look at yourself and your neighbors. The human population can be divided into the following categories: 90% of the population are normal; 2% are psychotic; 2% are mentally retarded (have IQ under 70) and about 6% has serious personality disorders (such as paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic, avoidant, and possessive-compulsive, dependent and passive aggressive).

About ten percent of the population may be said to have clinically significant mental health issues and the remaining ninety percent has those issues in minor portions. That is to say that just about every human being has issues with his self structure, for all mental health problems are problems of the self structure.

Generally, religion helps the majority of the people with minor issues with their self structures and enables them to cope with the exigencies of being on earth. By positing a God that is more powerful than human beings and urging people to worship that God, religion enables people to shrink their selves to normal proportions.
Where religion fails in enabling people to shrink their swollen selves, they tend to go from minor neurosis to personality disorders.
Religion has failed in Nigeria and the result is that many Nigerians now have personality disorders. The saddest part of it all is that they do not even know it. But know it or not, their behaviors exhibit personality disorders; the effect of their disordered selves is the chaos they have turned their country to.

Let us consider those personality disorders that are rampart in Nigerians: narcissistic, antisocial, histrionic and paranoid. (If you are interested in technical understanding of these issues, see American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, latest edition…it is revised every ten years, or so.)

The narcissistic personality looks like you and I. The difference is that he exaggerates traits found in all of us. All of us want to seem special and draw attention to ourselves. Every person wants to be rich, powerful and famous. The narcissist has this desire in a more intense degree. His whole life is motivated by desire to seem special and superior to other people and a desire to do what would bring him other people’s recognition and attention. He works hard for the attention he seeks. Generally, he does well at school (A or B student) and succeeds in the world. He may be a military general, a chief executive officer of a business, a politician etc. Generally, he is a socially successful person. What is the problem with that picture, you ask? The problem is that he works for his personal success and social validation of his desired sense of specialness and attention. He does not work for the good of other people. In fact, he is more likely to use other people to get what he wants and when they are no longer useful to him, he discards them. Have I not just described the typical Nigerian politician? You decide. Narcissists are self centered and live selfish lives. Their personal lives are marked by inner sense of emptiness and aloneness. They feel like they are nothing important. Despite seeming important in his general’s uniform or in the flowing robes worn by the Nigerian big man, he actually feels like one giant worthless nothing. In fact, he feels like he does not even exist. All his compulsive behaviors to bring attention to him are meant to make his non-existent self seem existent and his unimportant seeming self seem important. He is an empty shell, really. He does not know what gives human beings real worth. The perennial wisdom of all mankind is that service for other human beings is what gives us genuine worth. The mother who takes good care of her children has more self worth than the politician whom every sycophant worships. (If you are interested in the technical literature on narcissism please Kohut, Kornberg, Masterson and Alice Miller.)

The histrionic personality is generally the female equivalent of the male narcissist. She wants to look beautiful and be admired by men and women. Her affect is shallow. Her whole life is dedicated to getting attention, often in a melodramatic manner. (Psychoanalysts used to call such women hysterical, but we shall not go there, for political correctness reasons.) We shall just say that these drama queens want to seem special and seek attention through beautifying their bodies. If you tell them that they are beautiful, you gratify their vanity and they like you, but if you dared tell them that they are ugly, they may, in fact work for your down fall, if not death. That is how outrageous their egos have become in their quest for fictional power. Think about the wives of Nigerian big men, what do you see? They are women with personality disorders. These women actually do not know that humility and a life dedicated to service to society is the only means of becoming the important self they wish to be. Love, forgiveness and social service are the only means known to human beings for attaining peace and happiness. Adorning ones body with all the jewelry this world can provide and being the Queen of Also Rock will not make you important, what your ego craves; what will give you worth and sense of value is serving all Nigerians.
Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a tendency to steal and engage in general antisocial behaviors without feeling guilty and remorseful. These people tend to have a sense of entitlement and feel like the world and other people owe them a living. If they do not earn good living they take it from other people. These people steal, even kill and do not feel bad from doing them. In fact, some of them seem to enjoy hurting other people. Let me ask you: what is a Nigerian leader but a person, who steals from the public, takes bribes and some times kills those who oppose him? He is nothing but a common criminal, an anti social personality disordered person. These people live empty lives. They do not understand what gives human beings real sense of worth: a life of social service and a life rooted in God.

Paranoid personality disorder. This person wants to be very important but did not figure out a way to gratify his desired importance, like the narcissist did. Whereas the narcissist has a sense of being successful, in fact, the paranoid has a sense of being a failure. Generally, he consciously feels inferior and consciously tries to seem superior. Whereas the narcissist assumes that he is superior to other people, the paranoid personality feels inferior to other people and struggles to seem superior to them. He feels inferior and compensates with pursuit of superiority. In interpersonal relationships, he wants other people to treat him as if he is a very important person, a VIP. If he senses that you are demeaning him, not treating him as if he is important, he feels upset and may ask you why you are humiliating him. He fears being disrespected, demeaned, belittled, humiliated, degraded, disgraced etc. When he suspects belittlement from other people, he lashes out at the source with anger. He accuses people of putting him down, when they did not consciously aim to do so. His interpersonal relationship is characterized by conflict. (If you are interested in the technical literature on this subject, see David Swanson et al, The Paranoid; William Meissner, Paranoid Process, Psychotherapy and the Paranoid Process; David Shapiro, Autonomy and the Rigid Character, Neurotic Styles.)

For any number of reasons, the Igbos tend to feel inferior and desire to seem superior. I hate to say it, but truth must be said, Igbos tend to exhibit more paranoid personality disorders than is found in the general population. In my twenty something years in the mental health field, the only two Nigerians with genuine delusional disorder (a more severe form pf paranoid personality) that I have seen are Igbo women. These two Igbo women had delusional disorder, erotomanic type. They felt that some powerful men were in love with them; men that did not even know about them. One felt that she was married to Jesus Christ himself and the other felt that a famous Nigerian professor was her lover, even though he did not know that she exists. In erotomania, an inferior feeling person, usually a woman believes that a famous person is in love with her etc. This feeling, apparently, makes her feel very desirable and important. A woman who feels inferior but is the object of love by a powerful man is now the most important woman in her world. It is difficult to dislodge delusional beliefs, for they serve a function for their victims: make them feel very important. If they gave up their delusions, they would recognize that they are like the rest of us, ordinary human beings. But they do not want to become ordinary human beings.

I do not want to make this paper a clinical paper, but in as much as we have broached delusional disorder, here are the rest of the delusions: paranoid, grandiose, erotomanic, jealous, and somatic. In paranoid delusion, the individual actually believes that some one, say his wife, police, ancestors etc is out to kill him and hides from them. In grandiose type, the individual believes that he is more important than other people and expects other people to accept this delusion. (Igbos tend to have the delusion that they are better than other Nigerians and expect other Nigerians to collude with their delusion and see them, as they want to be seen, as superior persons. Luckily, other Nigerians attempt to heal Igbos of their delusional disorder by reminding them that they are just ordinary human beings and are not better than other Nigerians.) In jealous type, the individual is jealous and believes that his wife is out there having sex with every man that has ever looked at her. He often abuses her for being unfaithful, when she is faithful. He consistently misinterprets her behaviors. Most men who engage in domestic violence tend to have delusional disorder, jealous type, with features of the other types. In somatic type of delusion, the individual believes that he or she has a physical disorder and goes from medical doctor to medical doctor, seeking treatment. Doctors generally do not find physical disorders in these persons.

Apparently, the belief that she has some medical disorder somehow makes the deluded woman feel special and, moreover, provides her with excuse not to do something in the real world to succeed and become the god she wants to become. She does not want to give up her belief that she has a physical illness. In my experience, such women generally have underlying physical disorders that medial science has not been able to figure out yet. Therefore, one should not dismiss such women as seeking attention through imaginary medical disorders. Whereas there is an element of hyperchondrises going on here, it is not only psychosomatic disorder; if you look deeply, you will find a physical disorder. A woman that I know kept complaining for years that there was something the matter with her. Nobody took her seriously. It happens that she has fibromylegia (muscles aches). A man that I know kept saying that something is the matter with him and nobody took him seriously. People said that he was malingering, using imaginary medical issues to avoid work and being on the doll. Well, it turned out that he had spondilolysis on both the lumber and cervical vertebrae. Where there is smoke there is fire, so look deeply before you dismiss people as suffering delusional disorder, somatic type.

The mentally ill are all of us writ large, for us all to see our own minor insanity. The schizophrenic who believes that he is god and hears voices telling him that he is god is merely acting out our wish to have a big self; the manic who, in an excited and euphoric manner, tells you that he is the most important person on earth, even though he is unemployed and has no penny to his name, is acting out the human wish to be important.

Our concern here is that man has a problematic self. He feels that he has a self, a separated important self and attempts to actualize that imaginary self.

I am not here to debate with you. I am here to tell you the truth, as I have gleaned it in my checquered existence on planet earth. My experience teaches me that all human beings are pursuing a chimerical self. The self that they think that they are, is generally a fictional, imaginary self.

All human beings think that they are separated, important selves. They came to this world to seem so. Their real self is unified spirit self. Religions have different names for this real self: Atman (Hinduism), Buddha (Buddhism), Christ (Christianity), son of God (Judaism) etc. Call it what you like, it is real.
God is very real. I know that he exists. If you think that you are cynical and skeptical, you have not seen a real skeptic. As a teenager, I did not want to hear any body talk about God. If you mentioned the word God, I freaked out and thought that you were crazy and belonged in an insane asylum. I filled my little head with information by the great philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Berkeley, Pascal, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, William James, Henry Bergson etc. I was a walking talking parrot who, at any moment, regurgitated what any of those great thinkers said. But in time, I learned that there is a force that is beyond what is taught in our philosophy.

Human beings are the creation of God. God extended himself unto us. God created us. We did not create ourselves and we did not create God.

God, our creator, is not apart from us. God is in his creation. God is in all of us. God is in each of us.

God is everywhere means that he is in us and in everything else. Everywhere is in God for God is everywhere. God is the universe (not material universe, the spiritual universe; the material universe is miscreations by the children of God).

God gave his children his creative powers. We, too, do create. Because we can create, we want to create ourselves and each other and create God; we resent the fact that we are created. We resent the fact that God created us. God created us and we cannot create God or ourselves. We resented this reality.

Since we have the ability to create, but always with the power of God in us, we left God to go miscreate a world where we seem to have created ourselves.

We are part of God and cannot leave him. All that we did was, as it were, cast a magical spell, what Hinduism calls Maya, on us and forgot the truth of our unified self and seem to go to sleep and dream that we are separated from God and that we created ourselves.

Upon birth on earth, the human child vaguely remembers his creator, God, but soon forgets him. By age two he has forgotten God and his true self as the son of God; he is already inventing a new self for himself. By age six his new self is in place.

Each of us invents a self concept and concepts for other people; we invent self images and images for other people; we give names (concepts and images) to everything in our world. This action amounts to being our own creator and the creator of everything in the world. In doing so, we satisfy our desire to seem to have created God and ourselves.

On earth, in the world of separation, we now seem like we are the author of reality. We are no longer created beings but creators of being.

This is what this world is all about. The world is a place where the children of God come to seem to create God. Each of us, working with all of us, creates his self concept (and translates it into a self image, so as to see it in form hence deceive his self into believing that it is real) and invents concepts and images of other people and things. The circle is closed.

We now seem separated from our real selves. We are away from our father. We are the prodigal son on a journey to nowhere, for everywhere we go we are in God. It is a journey without distance, for God is right at the tip of our nose, waiting for us to recognize him.

The world is a place we come to seem to be false, imaginary selves. The personalities we currently know ourselves to be are fictional. But fictional or not, that is who we think that we are.

We make these ego separated important selves and house them in bodies. Our bodies are weak and vulnerable and subject to feeling pain. We, therefore, anticipate pain and defend against pain.

If I fear that you would harm me, I would avoid you. I would separate from you. Personality is a means of separation. The ego and body that houses it is a means of separation.

Earlier on, I talked the various personality types. What is your personality? It might do you some good to take some of the personality tests, such as MMPI. It does not hurt to have a working knowledge of your personality type (and IQ; some of the best instruments for IQ are WAIS for adults and WISC for children).

Personality is a pattern of thinking and behaving. Beginning in childhood, each of us develops a pattern of thinking and behaving. Usually his social and biological experiences contributed to his pattern of thinking and behaving, his personality.

Nigerians often think that they are so well hidden that nobody knows who they are. It would take a typical mental professional less than a few hours to assess each individual’s personality pattern.

All human beings behave in a human pattern (general human personality, ego) and within that generalized pattern; each of us has an individual pattern, his personality, his habitual pattern of responding to the exigencies of living.

All human beings pursue separated, important selves, that is, pursue ego. We are all slaves to the ego; we all live in hell, for as long as we want to be egos we are in hell, for the ego is what hell means.

As long as we seek to become egos we will lack peace and joy in our lives. But within this overall picture, each of us has his own private hell. Each of us has a private personality, a self concept, a self image, a picture of the person he thinks that he is and is aspiring to become. We are all slaves to the self we made to replace the self that God created us as.

Personality testing gives one a good picture of what type of self one has. My personality tests tell me that I am an avoidant personality. It is obvious to every person that knows me that this is true. I was an inordinately shy child. Shyness is what psychiatrists call avoidant personality disorder. It means that the child, as he is, feels not good enough. Believing that he is not good enough, he concludes that if other people come close to him that they would appreciate his personal inadequacy. He doesn’t want to be seen as not good enough. To avoid being seen as not well enough, he generally avoids other people. He keeps an emotional distance between him and other people.

The shy child keeps to himself, afraid that if you came close to know him that you would see that he is not good and reject him. He fears rejection more than he fears death itself. Anticipated rejection makes him fearful and anxious. He reduces his anxiety by avoiding people. He avoids other children and keeps to himself. If he is the brainy type, he keeps to himself and reads books.

At school, the shy child is afraid that his teachers might give him poor grades hence expose the fact that he is not good enough. If this aspect of the disorder is magnified in the child, he has obsessive compulsive personality, as well. Here, the individual wants to seem perfect and fears not seeming so. He is driven to seem perfect and is afraid of not seeming perfect. Some such children, in fact, hide their school work from their teachers, for fear of not obtaining perfect grades. My God, I used to be devastated every time I am getting my papers back from my elementary school teachers, for getting a poor grade made me feel like I was valueless.

Behind the fear of social rejection, the avoidant, shy child wants to have a very important and superior self. Actually, he uses avoidance to maintain his desired important self. Social avoidance is a means of maintaining separation from other people.

Parents who have shy children ought to know that their children need to be helped out of shyness, for shyness is a psychological problem. The shy child is using his shyness to avoid relating to other people. He is hiding from other people... He is disrupting interpersonal relationship.

Life is relationships and one must relate fully to other people to be fully alive. As adults, shy, introverted persons tend to have problems on the job. They tend to keep quiet and others, the more extroverted assertive types, get noticed and promoted on the job. But since the introspective and reflective shy person may understand how to do the job better than the shallow extravert promoted ahead of him, he may feel bypassed and angry and develop passive aggressive behavior patterns. Here, he tries to defeat his employer’s goals, such as not working hard any more, because he was not properly rewarded.

Shy children have to be taught that in the social world we are all in competition with each other for the rewards that society offers and learn to compete overtly, rather than covertly, as they normally do. They avoid overt competition and, therefore, do not win in the games of society but in isolation nurse their ideal, superior self. The ideal, superior self is untested in competition and is not real, it is vacuous, and it is neurotic. As a matter of fact, as long as the individual clings to that idle superior self he is going to be a failure in society, for in society people compete in every thing and the best wins rewards. Life is pretty much like a soccer game; we are all playing a game and those who play better than others are rewarded with recognition by society. If one does not enter the games of society and play effectively, one is not going to win. Merely keeping to the side lines and wishing for an ideal superior self is not going to make one win at any thing and worse, it is not going the make the wished for self to become real. Only actual competition brings desired results.

The individual must, therefore, study what he is good at, what he has aptitude and interest in doing, train for it and compete overtly with other people. Avoiding other people is not allowed in heaven and on earth. Join people and relate fully to them that are what life is all about. Stop the temptation to avoid people, join people. It is the wish for dissociation that led to all our problems.
All personalities, normal and abnormal, are mechanisms for separating from other people and from God.

Therefore, all personalities, that is separated self concepts, self images, egos, must be given up for the individual to experience union with God and all creation.

Each of us has a unique pattern of behaving, and for relating to his world. Do you know your own pattern, your personality type? The German writer, Novalis, said that character is fate. Progressive liberals tend to dismiss his assertion. Liberals and progressives, in general, believe that with reason and effort that each of us can do whatever he wants to do. It is nice to have such un-limiting beliefs. But my experience has shown me that personality is, more or less, fate. Once the individual develops a certain type of personality, usually in childhood, certainly before adolescence, age 13, that pattern of relating to other people and the world around him tends determine what he gets out of life. Society will reward the individual according to his behaviors, which are determined by his personality. As it were, personality is fate.

Once developed, whatever will happen to the individual will happen to him? He must experience whatever he has to experience. As it were, he is destined by his personality to live and experience life in a certain manner. In fact, given the individual’s personality, he can only do well in certain professions. He will have to do what he has to do and experience what he has to experience and nobody can prevent it. For example, if you are the introverted, introspective, reflective, shy, avoidant personality type, it is obvious that you may do well in introspective disciplines like philosophy, theology and psychology and not necessarily in action oriented disciplines like engineering. Once personality is formed, and personality is formed from biological and social experiences, the individual’s fate, as it were, is set.

(A life force in us takes our inherited biological constitution and social experience and weaves them together to form our personalities. We are the conceptualizer of our personalities. A spirit that we came to the world with, though denying its real nature and sleeping is responsible for conceptualizing our self concepts and self images. We, that is, unified spirit, the thinker in us, are not our thoughts and personalities. The individual is not his thoughts and behavior; he is a son of God, spirit that came to earth to dream that he is separated from his father and brothers. Because he is not his personality he can understand his biological make up and his social experiences and his personality and up to a point change them. However, body and society are limits. Given his inherited body and the nature of society he lives in, there is only so much he can change in his life. You cannot change your genes, and body, at least not yet, not until genetic science and engineering makes that possible. Until that happy event takes place, you are restricted as to what you can do by your inherited body and social status. If you were born with a weak, sensitive body, as is almost always the case in shy children, you are not going to make your body strong by merely wishing so, hence will not make yourself extroverted. You will always be introverted, but you can learn the nature of extroversion and became socially outgoing despite the pull of shyness for you to withdraw from society. In the meantime go do what you have aptitude and interest in doing and use it to contribute to society. In contributing fully to society you receive peace and joy.)

Please find out what your personality type is and work on it, it affects what you do. Recently, I asked an Igbo Doctor an innocent question. I asked the question to obtain information from him. He had assigned an honorific title himself and I wrote to him a one line question: what does that title mean? He wrote back a rambling dissertation on how I was making fun of him. I was surprised at his sense of being demeaned.

He was projecting his self assessment to me. He thinks that he is funny, calling himself a Sir, when he is not one. That is, he was projecting to me what he sees in him. He has paranoid personality features, for paranoid persons generally over employ the ego defense mechanism of projection. They think that they are inferior and inadequate, deny this negative self assessment and project it out and come to think that other people think that they are inferior and inadequate. They then quarrel with other people for perceiving them as inferior and inadequate. They stimulate anger in other people, for if you accuse people of seeing you as inadequate and they did not see you as such, you make them resent you and quarrel with you. The paranoid personality is in a vicious cycle (self fulfilling prophecy), he accuses other people of doing what they did not do and they resent him and fight with him. This hostile response by other people confirms his earlier assumption that other people and the world is hostile towards him and is out to get him and or put him down. He does not know that he is the one stimulating how other people respond to him. If he changes his self view, gives up his neurotic wish to seem important, relinquishes his grandiosity, and accepts that he is the same and equal to all people, loves and forgives all people, he would generate more peaceful and loving responses from other people.

Igbos tend to be more paranoid than other people. I know that they may not want to hear this fact but I am actually trying to help them by stating the truth, as I observe it in them. A people’s friend must tell the truth, as he sees it. (What is the truth, you ask? I do not know, do you know? Never mind if we do not, ultimately, know what the truth is.) Who ever tells one lies is ones enemy. I think that for any number of reasons, Igbos feel inferior and want to seem superior. They want other Nigerians to see them as superior to them. Of course, other Nigerians being normal persons refuse to collude with Igbos. Thus they see Igbos for who they are: ordinary persons. Igbos then resent being seen as ordinary, for their neurosis would like them to be seen as very important persons. They accuse other Nigerians of persecuting them, when no one is persecuting them. They tell me that Yoruba’s are out to do this or that to them. The Yorubas I know are the kindest persons on earth. The Hausas I know are the most generous human beings on earth. But my Igbo brothers are unaware of the psychodynamic origin of their quarrels with other Nigerians.

I am not making other Nigerians out as angels. Every human being has a personality, which, in the final analysis, is at best normal. Normal means that it does not have exaggerated neurosis.

For example, every person is a bit paranoid. If your level of paranoid is small we say that you are normal. That does not mean that you do not have paranoia. If terrorists randomly kill people, your masked paranoia would come to the fore, as you suddenly feel that other people are out to kill you and you are suspicious of your neighbors intentions; you become guarded and scan your world looking out for danger and defending yourself. On September 11, 2001 just about every American exhibited paranoid personality traits. The point is that psychopathologies masked in normal persons come out in insecure times.


What this means is that all of us have problematic selves. We, therefore, need to pause and understand our selves. This understanding is to be done at two levels: secular and spiritual.

At the secular level, we can use the science of psychology to understand our personalities, our self concepts and our self images. The chances are that you, if you are reading this material, you are normal. (See the writings of George Kelly on personality as a personal construct; he contends that each of us, building on his biological datum and social experiences, constructs his personality. Also see the writings of Alfred Adler and Karen Horney, seminal psychoanalysts.)

(The two percent of the population that is psychotic seldom read abstract materials; apparently, their hallucinations and delusions make reading tedious for them. There seem biological issues in the etiology of psychosis: there are putative problematic dopamine issues in schizophrenia, problematic neuropiniphrin issues in mania, problematic serotonin issues in depression, and problematic GABA issues in anxiety disorder. So far, no one has implicated biochemical causal factors in personality disorders. It seems that mentation, thinking, and plays a key role in personality disorders, and if the individual changes his thinking and behavior patterns his personality tends to change. It appears that cognitive behavior therapy is the best approach to healing personality disorders? Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy and Albert Ellis Rational Emotive Therapy seem to work quite well in helping persons with personality disorders change their self defeating thinking and behavior patterns.)

Psychotherapists (secular, as in psychologists and psychiatrists, and spiritual, as in religions; ministers) make their livings trying to change people’s personalities. But you do not need to go to psychotherapists. You simply can stu

Posted by Administrator at November 22, 2005 06:39 AM


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