The ego, in it’s essential nature is pathological. It is also about dysfunction and suffering. Many mental disorders consist of the same egoic traits that operate in a normal person, except that they have become so pronounced that their pathological nature becomes obvious to anyone, except the sufferer.
Many normal people tell certain kinds of lies from time to time in order to make themselves appear more important, more special, and to enhance their image in the mind of others: who they know, what their achievements, abilities and possessions are, and whatever else the ego uses to identify. Some people, driven by the ego’s feeling of insufficiency and it’s need to have or be more. Become wrapped in a life of nearly complete fiction. Their grandiose and self-inflated image can sometimes fool others, but usually not for very long.
The mental illness that is paranoia is in part an exaggerated form of ego for indeed, the ego is the voices in our heads. Usually because of a persistent underlying feeling of fear, a story will be made up by the ego. The story often has an inner consistency and logic so that it sometimes fools others into believing it as well. Sometimes organizations and entire nations have paranoid belief systems at their very basis. The ego’s fear and distrust of other people, it’s tendency to emphasize the difference in others by focusing on their perceived faults and make those faults into their identity, taken further and monsters are created. The ego needs others, but it’s dilemma is that deep down it hates and fears them. The stronger the ego in you, the more likely it is that in your perception other people are the main source of problems in your life. You will also be more likely to make life difficult for others. But of course you will not see that. It is always others who seem to be doing to you.
Paranoia also manifests another symptom that is an element of every ego, although in paranoia it takes on a more extreme form. The more the sufferer sees themselves persecuted, spied on, or threatened by others, the more pronounced becomes their sense of being the center of the universe around whom everything revolves, and the more important and special they feel as the imagined focal point of so many people’s attention. Their sense of being a victim, of being wronged by so many people, makes them feel very special. The basis of their delusional story, they often assign to themselves the role of both victim and potential hero who is going to save the world or defeat the forces of evil.
The more unaware one is of themselves, the more unconscious. The more likely their egoic pathology will assume the form of violence. Violence is the primitive but still widely used way the ego attempts to assert itself, to prove itself right and another wrong. A person who identify’s with the thoughts that make up their opinions, those thoughts harden into mental positions which are invested with a sense of self. Thus Identity and thought emerge and once this happens, people will feel and act as if they are defending their very self instead of simply ones’ opinion. They feel and act as if they are fighting for survival and their emotions will reflect that unconscious belief. They become turbulent, upset, angry, defensive, or aggressive. They feel they need to win at all costs lest they become annihilated. That is the illusion the ego creates. It does not know that mind and mental positions have nothing to do with who you are because the ego only operates from the unconscious, past and future, When we are aware of the present moment the ego does not operate, it doesn’t know what to do.
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth – Awakening to your Life’s Purpose, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2005.