“The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognized.”
Just who has the ego problem?
One sense of the word “ego” is a distorted self-regard, what psychologist Carl Jung referred to as “inflated consciousness… hypnotized by itself.”
But high level achievement often brings with it fame, which can also lead others to have an “inflated consciousness” that interferes with authentic perceptions of a celebrity, and distorts relationships.
Charles Arthur wrote about some of these issues with respect to the famed British theoretical physicist:
“Ask around, and you begin to get the impression that there are people whose feathers are ruffled by Professor Hawking’s fame.
“Peter Coles, professor of astronomy at the University of Nottingham, says: ‘Coffee-time talks in physics departments often come up with the same topic: it’s very difficult to get anybody to say anything critical of him.
“But to have somebody like that in an establishment that runs on peer review isn’t healthy. The trouble is, people fear that they will be thought of as jealous.’
A brief history of fame
“However, Bernard Carr, a friend of Hawking’s who is professor of astronomy at Queen Mary College, London, says: ‘The fact is, he is a great physicist. To say he’s the greatest since Einstein is an exaggeration, but he’s a cult figure with the public, and that has to be good for the subject.’
“His book A Brief History of Time has sold more than 10 million copies and been turned into a TV series.
“There’s probably a copy of the book in every aspirational middle-class home, and equally probably, the last 20 pages remain unperused by human eyes.
“Brief History must rank alongside James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, as the most regularly unfinished book.”
From The crazy world of Stephen Hawking, by Charles Arthur, The Independent (UK) [date: 2001]
Eckhart Tolle on ego and fame
Writer and teacher Eckhart Tolle provides some further explanation of these relationship issues in a section titled Ego and Fame in his book A New Earth.
He writes, “The bane of being famous in this world is that who you are becomes totally obscured by a collective mental image.
“Most people you meet want to enhance their identity – the mental image of who they are – through association with you…
“They are looking to complete themselves through you, or rather the mental image they have of you as a famous person, a larger-than-life collective conceptual identity.
“The absurd overvaluation of fame is just one of the many manifestations of egoic madness in our world.”
Tolle quotes Einstein speaking of “a grotesque contradiction between what people consider to be my achievements and abilities and the reality of who I am and what I am capable of.”
Tolle adds, “This is why it is hard for a famous person to be in a genuine relationship with others.. not dominated by the ego with its image-making and self-seeking.”
Related page: Ego / narcissism……