[O]ur brain hides its true operations from our consciousness. We think we see a stable visual world but, in fact, it is constructed every time we move our eyes. In fact, unless you are paying close attention, we could switch objects in the world and you would never notice the change. This is because we assume that the world is stable, but that is an illusion. The self is the same. We cannot be aware of the underlying processes that create it and yet we feel it is coherent. You never see that you are a reflection of the others around you because you cannot easily see how you change. And we don’t easily see our self switching from one to another until it is pointed out to us by those around us or we recognize that the context has changed.
[I]f we were able to see the world during our eye movements, we would become nauseous because it would become unstable and we would experience motion sickness. The world would smear as the visual input stimulated the neurons that process the light. Here, too much information can be a bad thing. So, our brain protects us from the true nature of the situation. Maybe this is why we do not see the cognitive illusions that create the self. Cognitive dissonance protects us from ruminating over failed goals, positive biases keep us motivated, free will gives us grounds for praise and blame, decision-making gives us the illusion of control. Without these cognitive illusions, we would not be able to function because we would be overwhelmed by the true complexity of the hidden processes and mechanisms that control us. And that, in the end, is a good thing.
-Bruce Hood, The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity