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December 22, 2012

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What you are asking about is multiplicity, the sense of having multiple selves, most of which are often in the background and outside of awareness. But when they are activated by an emotion, an experience, a person, a fear, and so on, then they rise to the surface and can even hijack the personality for a while.

In contemporary psychology they are called "parts," ego states, subpersonalities, complexes, etc. But from the Buddhist view, they are even less "real" the illusory self that we live with daily.

According to neuroscience, our false sense of a singular self is actually constructed from the experience of all of our parts, likely an evolutionary trait to keep us alive.

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