Anatomy & Physiology of “Selfishness”

What is selfishness? We tend to use this word very loosely. If some one desires something strongly and acquires it – which he is not prepared to share easily with others – we immediately tend to call him selfish.  Is that actually selfishness? Working for wealth, larger income, greater comforts, additional possessions, sound financial security, stability in life, self preservation, emotional security, better education for children, better family welfare, more pleasures in life etc …. None of them can be classified as selfishness! They are all simple mechanisms of enhancing one’s own survival potential against the possible future challenges in life.

Some people argue that selfishness is the basic drive behind all human actions – that there is a selfish motive behind every simple action of a human – be it in friendship, marriage or even worship of God.  Even falling in love has a selfish motive. A mother’s or parental love has hidden selfish motive to get back something in future from their children. All these arguments betray nothing but ignorance.  Self preservation and self enhancement can never be called selfishness – as that is the basic instinct – the absence of which can be called unnatural. Ambitions and aims of life can never be classified as selfishness – as that is the purpose of life.  Then what is selfishness?

Selfishness = Differential Auto-centric Evaluation!

  1. One rule for self and another for others to the advantage of self is – selfishness.
  2. Rating of high value for what is given – and low value for what is taken is patent selfishness.
  3. Doing things to others that you do not want done to yourself is selfishness.
  4. Treating others the way you do not want to be treated is selfishness.
  5. Expecting things that you do not do for, or give to others is selfishness.
  6. Being and showing partiality to one’s own advantage is selfishness.
  7. Deliberately and dishonestly under-rating some body or some one’s work to the advantage of oneself is selfishness.
  8. Self praise and condemnation of others without basis is selfishness.
  9. Inequitable distribution of possessions to one’s own advantage – ignoring and subordinating the rights of others is selfishness.
  10. Taking work out of some one and not compensating them adequately is selfishness.
  11. Robbing some one’s work and depriving them of the due credit is selfishness.
  12. Advancing one’s career without giving due credit to the subordinates whose contribution is substantial is selfishness.
  13. Being unfair in business transactions and squeezing the week is selfishness.
  14. Expecting some one to sacrifice for your own advantage is selfishness.
  15. Holding on to something that you do not legally or legitimately own is selfishness.
  16. Robbing some one of anything – physical or no-physical is selfishness.
  17. Not returning what has been borrowed from others is selfishness.
  18. Blaming some one else for your failures in any field is selfishness.
  19. Wishing your child to be superior to the neighbor’s child is selfishness.
  20. Wishing for neighbor’s failure to balance for your own failure is selfishness.

The above mentioned actions are not exhaustive or totally representative list depicting selfishness in people – and the list of 20 actions may be called by many other names – but is basically born out of a “Mental Disease” called “Selfishness”.

Selfishness is a deep rooted sickness / disease born out of lack of self esteem. When a person realizes that he is inherently inadequate and cannot compete with others in performance – he chooses this surreptitious route of foul play. Instead of trying to improve himself / herself which takes effort – they take this easy route of depriving or obstructing others to bring them down to their own levels. Corruption in governments departments is one such glaring manifestation of selfishness of some individuals. They have no dignity, no shame in robbing other’s earnings and property. They are incurable parasites.

Selfish people will be generally found to be very nervous people with low self confidence. In order to camouflage that nervousness – they act angry and arrogant. The low self esteem is because of their own sense of guilt. When they are caught for their misdeeds of impropriety – they immediately try and dramatize their innocence before collapsing and pleading guilty and seeking pardon.

Selfish people are generally quite intelligent and mostly very cunning. Their minds are constantly scheming to find a prey to exploit. They never miss an opportunity when available. They have a criminal mindset and so are very suspicious about others. They can betray you without any qualms. Hence they are very dangerous as friends.

Selfishness = Senselessness + Shamelessness + Insensitivity + Insecurity + Ignorance


About MSR

I am a Healthcare products manufacturer & exporter and also a healthcare counselor. The areas of my interest include Spirituality, Philosophy, Science, Engineering, Humanities, History and Sports.

Posted on May 18, 2010, in Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Sreenivassan Varadiengar

    Selfishness is well analysed. Different angles of looking at it have been highlighted. Certain presumptions about selfish people have also been spelt out.
    I would like to think aloud. What first of all is ‘self’? An individual, the family to which an individual belongs to, the country in which one is born? Let me ask a question. If one prefers India instead of Pakistan, is he selfish? To put it otherway, if an NRI favours Pakistan in a business tender where he could have given the chance to India, will he be called Selfless? Likewise, in an argument, if one shows favour to the next family and not his, will he be taken for a selfless person? Finally, if one sacrifices his job offer enabling another poor person to take it – it can be selflessness or sacrifice. Coming back, if one wins a job by merit, depriving another needy person to take up a job, will he be selfish? Here comes the catch. Selfishness need not be something that one acquires for oneself depriving other to take it. Assertiveness should not be confused with Selfishness. Perhaps, selfishness carries a greedy tone with it. Even then hoarders of wealth need not be termed selfish.
    As I think more and more, the topic is worth going in detail.
    Is a political manoeuvre becomes a selfish act? Starting from Lord Krishna and coming to our present political leaders, should we take it that whatever they do for acquiring power and success, will be under the category selfish?
    I would therefore simplify the definition as the attitude of one not giving any credit to others’ point of view is selfishness.

  2. Dear VS;
    Thanks for reading my blog and commenting. Let me answer your fundamental question – and I hope that may satisfy you on definition of “Self” & “Selfishness”.
    Self = Everything that “is” and connected with “I” (Athman / Soul / Spirit).
    Selfishness = Everything that “is” and connected with “My” (Mind / Body / Parents / Children / Family / Home / All Belongings)
    “I” is the common factor in all beings = The fragment of God – “Paramathman”.
    “My” is what is collected by individual “I” from the physical universe. The physical universe also actually totally belongs to all “I”s equally – as everything belongs to God “Paramathman”. Every “I” can “earn” and take as much as he / she wishes and take that much from the “Physical Universe” as part of the “Game of Survival” called “Life”. Instead of “Earning” (winning the game of survival) – if one causes pain to others, robs, cheats, deprives, exploits, tricks etc the other “I”s … thus endangering the survival of other “I”s to enhance the survival of “Self” … it is called “Selfishness” … in other words … “Foul Play”. This is called “Sin” in all religions. But basically it is a foul play in a game that is created to be played fairly.

  3. I like the first two paragraphs that you wrote for selfishness….Very true in today’s world. But, the remaining definitions are not 100% true always and highlight many other negative traits which cannot be called ‘selfish’…But, overall you have covered so many points and summarized it really well….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: