Should You Commit Ego Death?

Ben Thomas
4 min readJan 27, 2022
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

A common resolution to most human conflict is the minimization or eradication of the self in some form. Anxious? Remember that you’re not the centre of the universe and that none of this really matters. Unsure of who you are? The self isn’t constant so why try to find something that’s not there. Relationship issues? Stop focusing on yourself and focus on your partner’s needs.

This usually works. We remind ourselves a few times a day to stop acting selfish and to stop taking ourselves so seriously. Maybe we meditate or journal to really hone in on this idea of the transitory ego. Maybe we pull an Eckhart Tolle and sit on a bench for a year.

But, whether we like it or not, that internet bill has your name on it and so too does all of your past mistakes. You can’t plead not guilty simply because you don’t feel like who you used to be. There is a self, however socially constructed, that dictates our behaviour, choices and overall experience in life. Aside from escaping to the mountains, ridding yourself of all material things and social connections and sitting under a tree for the rest of your life, living without the self is pretty tricky in this day and age.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

There is also the dark side of having no real sense of self or a lack of self-awareness. This is generally called a “self-disorder” where one experiences a minimal self. The minimal self, described as “”a flame that enlightens its surroundings and thereby itself.” It has no properties, no sense of narrative reflection or identity. Instead, the individual experiences a stream of consciousness. As Nicolas De Warren describes such a life:

“When looking at this tree in my backyard, my consciousness is directed toward the tree and not toward my own act of perception. I am, however, aware of myself as perceiving this tree, yet this self-awareness (or self-consciousness) is not itself thematic.”

This can worsen especially in those who suffer from schizophrenia. The patient may experience…