The following anecdote from “The Path of Least Resistance” typifies this process, particularly when our self-image is on the line. Even when the supply is plentiful, with adulation beyond measure, we experience a different reality – an endless flow of tainted love. Imagine pouring water into a cup that has no bottom.There was a man who woke one day convinced that he was a zombie. As someone pours in the water, the cup feels and looks full.This entity was represented by the serpent and was external to Adam. The yetzer hara entered only when Adam ate of the tree and became alert to the difference between good and evil, which shifted his perspective. As these defenses emerge, instability, which can be seen as the chasm between the truth and our ability to accept it, develops. Exhausted and on edge, our ego edits our world to ensure that we leave in nothing that will hurt us or reveal us, either to ourselves or to others.Man’s awareness was reduced from the objective world of “truth and falsehood” to the subjective view of “good and bad.” After the sin, human beings would forever see their world through the cloudy lens of “I.” Emotional instability is, fundamentally, a lack of moral clarity – the degree to which the ego infects us. At whatever point we have clarity that a given behavior is wrong, bechirah (“free will”) emerges, and it becomes a genuine choice. Defense mechanisms are categorized based on how they affect an individual’s functioning: Our ego colors the world, so that we are not tarnished. "I became a zombie later." "I didn't raise my son to be a zombie, or especially to think he is a zombie," his mother pleaded. Preoccupied with potential threats to our self-image, we are on guard 24/7.It is a choice, yes, but without moral significance.
Doing what is comfortable or enjoyable is a body drive.As our behavior becomes increasingly reckless and irresponsible, the ego swells to compensate for feelings of guilt and shame.Our perspective narrows, and we see more of the self and less of the world. The clearer our perspective, the more reality we allow in, and the more objective and rational are our attitudes, thoughts and behaviors.This mindset is understandable but quite problematic.When we shirk our obligations and shun new opportunities, we lose more than we might expect.