“…that way deep down they are different from everyone else.” In recovery meetings they say that a person who thinks they are different suffers from “terminal uniqueness.” We also like to see people like this as narcissistic. This to me is a perfect expression of the tension of the opposites in our culture. On the one hand, as James Hillman said, we are put here as “acorns,” to grow into the Oak tree that only we can be. No one can be like us.
But one of the things we are taught in therapy and other places is that we are not any different than anyone else. Where do these messages come from and what are the ramifications of them both?
When I want to say I am like others I look to the form we are, our physical self. Yes we have a lot of similarities in form; arms, legs, etc.
But when I think about what is truly me, what is that which makes me different than you and all other people and I have to be unique. I have to be that acorn Hillman referred to. Here is an example.
I say that no one was where I was on April 1, 1962. (choose whatever day you want to put in your here as it is not the particular day that matters,) Since no one can say they were where I was on that day, I am nothing more than an accumulation of my own unique experiences, am I not? Bob Earll, an early mentor in my “recovery,” used to say that you could cut off his arms, his legs and even his body from his head but he would still be the accumulation of his emotions and thoughts and experiences. He would be those memories, dreams, reflections.
If I accept that premise, there is no way that anyone can be like anyone else. It is physically impossible. What you are seeing right now is not what I am seeing right now. So therefore I am different than anyone else because no other person is seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking what I am write now. I am accumulating those images that those sights, sounds, feeling and thoughts are instilling into my mind and unconscious!
How is this related to “mental health,” or what I truly believe is the cause of my/our problems?
“Am I a good person? Deep down, do I even really want to be a good person, or do I only want to seem like a good person so that people (including myself) will approve of me? Is there a difference? As long as I am going to have those deep seated emotional conflicts persisting below the level of my conscious, and driving a lot of my thoughts and actions, I am going to see my Self as defective. My experiences(the images of reality that I collected) of harming others(according to them and my mind) is going to dominate my psychology and self image. When if we all get really honest, we all hurt and are hurt. But I cant let go of the fact that I was not the perfect father/husband/son/brother/etc. 
“How do I ever actually know whether I’m bullshitting myself, morally speaking?” This is what my mind absolutely loves to grab a hold of. If I am being loving and kind, my mind says I am bullshitting everyone and really just doing it for my selfish reasons. But if I am not being kind, it says that it is just because that is the way that I truly am. So do you see how much effort it takes to truly be the acorn I am. That to truly become who I was put here to be is going to have it’s ramifications? Hell, all I have to do is go against all of the norms of my culture to do so.
Celebrate other’s uniqueness, because if they didn’t have it, we would all be alike! BORING*
123 RV, SA, JW, RW, PA, PH, TN!
 David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest  David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays  Therese Borchard wrote wonderfully about this yesterday. http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/guilt-or-shame-whats-keeping-you-down/
*I wont even get into my ideas about the pedagogical/theological basis for the cultural paradigm of disavowing being unique. Something about sheep following the “one,” to their slaughter.