The self is real concept.
There are concepts which aren’t real. i.e. they don’t refer to anything in reality. e.g. Unicorns. Sure there are horns, and there are horses. But there aren’t any single horned horses.
My self is real. It is useful. Buddhists are stupid for considering it useless and even dangerous.
Concepts are formed by discovering and measuring invariants about percepts. At the V1 in the neocortex for example, not-so-invariant invariants like corners, edges and other features are discovered and all data is encoded as such and is passed to V2 which has expectations about what the next input is going to be.
Such lower level features are integrated to form encodings of objects in our minds.
Of course the vision subsystem of the neo-cortex isn’t operating in a vacuum, it shares invariants it discovers with many other parts of the neo-cortex.
For example, my language subsystem knows that an edge should be called an “edge”.
Unfortunately I can’t smell an edge, but people with synesthesia can.
I think the most active parts of the higher neocortical regions discovers and expects invariants about other subsystems.
If a neocortical subsystem for self, i.e. a cartesian theatre of self isn’t discovered, then the it should be because the self keeps moving in the brain, from one higher subsystem to the next, focusing on different set of diverse higher level invariants.
And self awareness, is a still higher part of the cortex which has theories about self, and even other people. Expected invariants about what the self likes to focus on, and brood over. Value hierarchies and such.