Being Yourself in the New India


Being Yourself in the New India

In this Tedx talk, I discuss the challenges and opportunities of life in the new India; why existential questions have to be answered, and why we must create a new form of compassionate individualism.


Anxiety Today


The evening news is blaring and Arnab Goswami is shouting in his trademark manner – Why?! We need that question answered! – but his face is incongruously impassive.
(His indignation seems superficial – is there a weariness to his hysteria?)

Now the panelists are screaming like a pack of rabid hyenas. News tickers below the picture – 2 of them! – scrolling relentless headlines of chaos and tragedy from around the world, glaring text in crimson above, and harsh music and an ominous bass line. This feels like reportage of the apocalypse.
My muscles are tense, and my breath slightly shallow.

News on Indian channels is designed to be anxiety provoking. Because anxiety is good for ratings.

An atmosphere of threat and fear arrests the attention of people, the anxiety as compelling as it is exhausting to the viewer.

Our brain can be thought of as having 2 parallel circuits – the limbic system ( the emotional brain), and the neocortex (the logical brain.)

These news channels are only pretending to give us facts, but are in fact attempting to manipulate our emotions.

Arnab is not speaking to our neocortex, he is screaming at our limbic systems.


The Difficulty of being Rahul Gandhi


Rahul Gandhi and Arnab GoswamiI am watching Rahul Gandhi’s interview with Arnab Goswami.

It’s an emotional experience.

At times I find myself angered on Rahul’s behalf, and want to protect him from the big bad interviewer.
But Arnab seems to be holding back – compared to his usual aggressive bombast, he is gentler with the young Gandhi, displaying rare flashes of empathy. Could Arnab actually become a psychotherapist? I wonder.

My reverie is interrupted by a curious phenomenon – Rahul Gandhi referring to himself in the 3rd person.
Arnab asks him a question.

And Rahul Gandhi says, “ To understand that question you have to understand a little bit about who Rahul Gandhi is and what Rahul Gandhi’s circumstances have been and if you delve into that you will get an answer to the question of what Rahul Gandhi is scared of and what he is not scared of”
He continues to refer to himself in the 3rd person.

As a psychiatrist, I find this fascinating – To refer to oneself in the 3rd person (a phenomenon called “Illeism”) points to an underlying psychological issue.
Illeism is a symptom of discomfort with the self.

Rahul is psychologically dissociating himself from who he is currently.Poor Rahul.

He doesn’t really want any of this. Rahul Gandhi’s facial expressions throughout the interview reveals a man in torment, conflict, and pain.

I empathize.

Narcissistic wounds are being defended by identifying with a grandiose false self, while the true self is fragile, cowering, frightened of the big bad world.

The little boy who was never held as a child is now being asked to take over the family business, even though his heart is elsewhere.

Rahul Gandhi would rather be in Corfu, or Venice or anywhere else but here.
But he finds himself in Amethi fighting an election , having to talk about complicated problems and to deal with bad men such as Narendra Modi and that Kejriwal.

The man deserves our empathy, not our derision (or our votes.)


Disclaimer: My comments about Rahul Gandhi are speculative and are not intended to be a clinical or diagnostic conclusion.


The Running Man


Does it seem that you are running from morning to night, always running, in pursuit of your dreams?

Do you have to do that? Can you achieve your goals without running?