We are rapidly becoming a society of people who fail to distinguish between the types of "self-ness" I listed in the title of this essay. Mental health depends on maintaining those distinctions. Self-absorption is a characteristic of bipolar disorder according to the mental health websites and the bipolar blogs. I learned this trying to deal with my bipolar cousin.
It is actually the milder forms -- self-indulgence, self-centeredness -- that causes most of the problems in the social fabric. People who have to get in front of others in traffic, causing accidents, is a manifestation of self-centeredness. People who have more than enough money to live luxuriously and still strive for more is a form of self-indulgence just as eating too much, drinking too much, gambling too much. It carries a price. That price might be a health problem or relationship problems. I often hear how people like myself "envy the wealthy." Ever read what Jane Fonda has said about Ted Turner and his own happiness? Notice how much discussion there is about how Mitt Romney and his wife are out of touch with average Americans -- how much should I trust someone who has no idea what my life is like to run the national government and make the laws that affect my life? People can indulge themselves with power, fame, as well as food and drink. Anybody remember Leona Helmsley? You think she felt loved? You think people wanted to be around her? Did she ever make anyone feel loved? Look at Charlie Sheen, Brittney Spears, all the celebrities whose lives are a lengthy list of legal troubles, divorces, career disasters, embarrassing spectacles,stays in rehab. I should envy people who cannot form a long attachment to another human being? Would it surprise you to hear that I know of a couple of women who pat themselves on the back for their devotion to their children and whose children have confessed how miserable their lives with their mothers have been? According to at least one study, children from large families are more likely to exhibit poor conduct and suffer from depression. However other studies contradict this. Sometimes the depression in large families, especially poor and African-American, according to one study and especially when they have more children than they desired, forms not in the children, but the mother. You can indulge yourself with religion, a role such as your profession or motherhood -- all of which are generally good things. The motto I suppose, is "All things in moderation."
Self-esteem and self-love is the WHOLE self. It is also about self-determination, and the freedom to be who you are.The road to that path begins with questioning why you want a particular thing, or why you want it so badly, or how much of your self-definition is wrapped up in it. Self-examination can be painful, difficult, terrifying. It is absolutely essential to achieving mental health.
Hello Gratitude, Good-bye Self-Absorption Marietta McCarty Psychology Today
The Challenging Path from Self-Indulgence to Self-Nurturing Leon F. Seltzer Psychology Today
Conduct Disorder (one of the components contributing to this is family size)
Self-Assessment Tests for mental health