Desire to be Great vs. Insanity

Currently reading “How To Win Friends and Influence People”:

“Sigmund Freud said that everything you and I do springs from two motives: the sex urge and the desire to be great. John Dewey, one of America’s most profound philosophers, phrased it a bit differently. Dr. Dewey said that the deepest urge in human nature is “the desire to be important.”

Why do people go insane?

…people who go insane find in insanity a feeling of importance that they were unable to achieve in the world of reality. Then he told me this story: “I have a patient right now whose marriage proved to be a tragedy. She wanted love, sexual gratification, children and social prestige, but life blasted all her hopes. Her husband didn’t love her. He refused even to eat with her and forced her to serve his meals in his room upstairs. She had no children, no social standing. She went insane; and, in her imagination, she divorced her husband and resumed her maiden name. She now believes she has married into English aristocracy, and she insists on being called Lady Smith. “And as for children, she imagines now that she has had a new child every night. Each time I call on her she says: ‘Doctor, I had a baby last night.’” Life once wrecked all her dream ships on the sharp rocks of reality; but in the sunny, fantasy isles of insanity, all her barkentines race into port with canvas billowing and winds singing through the masts. Tragic? Oh, I don’t know. Her physician said to me: “If I could stretch out my hand and restore her sanity, I wouldn’t do it. She’s much happier as she is.” If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity.

If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity.”

Carnegie, Dale (2010-08-24). How To Win Friends and Influence People (Kindle Locations 505-508). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

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