He does not feel weakened in a vacuum, but feels specifically less substantial, less well equipped for life than others. If he had a sense of belonging, his feeling inferior to others would not be so serious handicap. But living in a competitive society, and feeling at bottom—as he does—isolated and hostile, he can only develop an urgent need to lift himself above others
Gradually and unconsciously, the imagination sets to work and creates in his mind an idealized image
of himself. In this process he endows himself with unlimited powers and with exalted faculties: he becomes a hero, a genius, a supreme lover, a saint, a god.
Self-idealization always entails a general self-glorification and thereby gives the individual the much-needed feeling of significance and superiority over others. But it is by no means blind self-aggrandizement. Each person builds up his personal idealized image from the materials of his own special experiences, his earlier fantasies, his particular needs, and also his given faculties. If it were not for the personal character of the image, he would not attain a feeling of identity and unity. He idealizes, to begin with, his particular "solution" of his basic conflict: compliance becomes goodness; love, saintliness; aggressiveness becomes strength, leadership, heroism, omnipotence; aloofness becomes wisdom, self-sufficiency, independence. What—according to his particular solution—appear as shortcoming or flaws are always dimmed out or retouched.