Over the ages many famous writers have commented on the universal human desire to feel important. Here are just a few samples.
There lurks, perhaps, in every human heart a desire of distinction, which inclines every man to hope, and then to believe, that nature has given himself something peculiar to himself.
Etiam sapientibus cupido gloriae novissima exuitur. (The desire for glory is the last thing a wise man relinquishes. Or, as Milton puts it, that desire is "the last infirmity of noble minds.")
I now perceive an immense omission in my psychology: the deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated. -William James
To be a human being means to possess a feeling of inferiority, which constantly presses towards its own conquest....The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge for conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation.
It was Alfred Adler, a colleague of Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung, who coined the term "inferiority complex." Willy Loman is a good example of a man who tries to convince himself he is important just because he knows he is not at all important. He even confides in his wife that people in the business world laugh at him. He is a dime a dozen, but he rages at his son Biff, "I am not a dime a dozen. I'm Willy Loman." Since he can't prove his importance by achieving financial success, but in fact proves just the opposite, he continually reminisces about the few good years he had in his younger days. He also projects his ambitions onto his son Biff, who could make Willy look successful if only he became successful himself. Willy even dies for success and approval, probably hoping, and hoping in vain, that he will at least have a beautiful funeral with many acquaintances coming from all over New England to attend it.
Immortality! Yes, we all crave attention. We want to be important, immortal. We want to do things that will make people exclaim, “Isn’t he wonderful? ”The urge to be outstanding is a fundamental necessity in our lives. All of us, at all times, crave attention. Self-consciousness, even reclusiveness, springs from the desire to be important.
-Lajos Egri, The Art of Dramatic Writing
The desire for glory can be seen in many characters in drama, including Shakespeare's characters Macbeth and Julius Caesar. In fact, in Julius Caesar it is evident that all the assassins think they are achieving glory.
Stoop, then, and wash.They smear their hands with Caesar's blood. How many ages hence Shall this our lofty scene be acted over, In states unborn and accents yet unknown!
How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport, That now on Pompey's basis lies along, No worthier than the dust!
So oft as that shall be, So often shall the knot of us be called The men that gave their country liberty.
Evidently this desire for glory is a bad thing because it causes trouble for ourselves as well as for others. Here is a small sample of what the highly influential philosopher Schopenhauer had to say on the subject:
Now it is obvious that our happiness, resting as it does mainly on peace of mind and contentment, could scarcely be better promoted than by limiting and moderating these motives to reasonable proportions that would possibly be a fiftieth of what they are at present, and thus by extracting from our flesh this thorn that is always causing us pain. Yet this is very difficult, for we are concerned with a natural and innate perversity. Tacitus says: “The thirst for fame is the last thing of all to be laid aside by wise men.” The only way to be rid of this universal folly is clearly to recognize it as such and for this purpose to realize how utterly false, perverse, erroneous, and absurd most of the opinions usually are in men’s minds, which are, therefore, in themselves not worth considering.