Yeh Jabr Bhi Dekha Hai, Taareekh ki Nazron Ne
Lamho ne Khata ki thi, Sadiyon Ne Sazaa Paayee
(Very poorly translated, the couplet means – History has witnessed that mistakes happen in moments, but the punishment lasts for aeons)
In the 2014 general elections, like millions of others, many of my hardcore Congressi family members felt sheepish but opted for Modi. And now I understand why.
Manmohan Singh’s vapid leadership, inability to prevent scams, had left many of us feeling frustrated and disempowered—so Modi who arrived on the scene as a testosterone-bleeding man’s man seemed the one who would restore our sense of potency, not to mention sort out the entire mess generated by the Congress Party.
Modi was the charismatic leader India was hungry for. Such leaderless situations—whether it is in nations, street gangs, mafia families, politics or corporations—provide perfect opportunities for narcissists to take over.
And over the last year I’ve come to the unequivocal conviction that Modi suffers from a mental disorder called Malignant Narcissism.
I don’t know if when Arvind Kejriwal described Modi as a “psychopath and a coward”, it came from an actual psychological analysis of Modi’s personality or if it was intuitive or just a chance remark but the fact is AK was impressively and surprisingly accurate!
Eminent Psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg pointed out that “Malignant Narcissism includes a sadistic element creating, in essence, a sadistic psychopath” and he employed the term ‘malignant narcissism’ and ‘psychopathy’ interchangeably.
This term, Malignant Narcissism was coined in 1964 by a world renowned German social psychologist Erich Seligmann Fromm who described it as “the quintessence of evil.” Since then, it has been analysed and written about extensively by the world’s foremost authorities on psychology, psychopathology, psychiatry and so forth.
Narcissism is a term expressing self love. There is healthy narcissism, which we must all possess—whereby we feel self confident, have a realistic assessment of our talents or lack thereof, we have ambitions and goals and we pursue them with the belief that we deserve to have what we desire.
Then there is unhealthy narcissism which has various sub-categories, of which Malignant Narcissism is the most extreme.
Some of the obvious and typical characteristics of Malignant Narcissists are that they are:
- Utterly deficient in empathy & compassion
- Have No conscience or “Super-ego lacunae” (Holes in conscience)
Modi was elected as Chief Minister of Gujarat in October 2001. In February 2002, over 2000 Muslim men, women and children were slaughtered in Ahmedabad, in the most horrifying, ISIS-ian like savagery, the likes of which India hadn’t seen perhaps since partition.
Various eye-witness accounts and later a video of confessions by some of the worst perpetrators of that massacre claimed Modi was the main man behind it.
But in all these years, not once has Modi expressed the slightest remorse or regret for what happened under, literally, his watch.
In the summer of 2002, a few months after the Gujarat slaughter, Ashis Nandy, a clinical psychologist and one of India’s best-known public intellectuals, wrote an essay, which earned him a lawsuit from Modi.
In the essay Nandy wrote, “….Modi, it gives me no pleasure to tell the readers, met virtually all the criteria that psychiatrists, psycho-analysts and psychologists had set up after years of empirical work on the authoritarian personality. He had the same mix of puritanical rigidity, narrowing of emotional life, massive use of the ego defence of projection, denial and fear of his own passions combined with fantasies of violence – all set within the matrix of clear paranoid and obsessive personality traits.”
Modi, one of six children, grew up in an impoverished family of oil-pressers and as a young boy he helped his father sell tea at the Vadnagar train station to supplement the family income. With little education, or prospects of success, power or riches little Modi at age 8, was ripe for an organisation like the rightwing RSS which often find their membership base amongst such discontent.
Modi was not only intelligent but had a fierce survival instinct as was evident from his growth and rapid progress in the RSS, an organisation whose head, M.S Golwalkar, was an unabashed admirer of Adolf Hitler and his “purging the country of the Semitic Races—the Jews,” and urged Hindus to manifest a similar “Race Spirit” with Muslims.
Malignant Narcissists are known to easily adopt and internalise ideologies that are aligned with with own notions of being superior to others.
In his essay, Nandy had written “I still remember the cool, measured tone in which he elaborated a theory of cosmic conspiracy against India that painted every Muslim as a suspected traitor and a potential terrorist. I came out of the interview shaken and told Yagnik that, for the first time, I had met a textbook case of a fascist and a prospective killer, perhaps even a future mass murderer.”
Narendra Modi’s astoundingly rapid rise to power and success in the RSS and later in the BJP is a testimony to his irrefutable powers of manipulation, determination, intelligence and ability to out-manoevre even seasoned politicians like Lal Krishan Advani.
Malignant Narcissists are paranoid and don’t trust anyone, apart from one or two cronies who are like extensions of themselves. And although they have an unquestioning belief in their own perfection, they constantly need another, like these cronies, to tell them so, to give them ceaseless attention and to feed their ego.
One of the world’s most infamous Malignant Narcissist Hitler had two cronies he stayed loyal to for life, Goebbels and Goering.
Modi has Amit Shah and Adani who he seems to be deeply loyal and committed to.
I hardly have to remind anyone of Modi’s obsession with selfies, an obvious sign of negative narcissism but since becoming Prime Minister, the everyday, simple-living, high-thinking chief minister of Gujarat has transmogrified into a veritable peacock.
One of the most bizarre and universally ridiculed instance of such primping was the $16,000 suit monogrammed with Modi’s full name in gold thread.
Children show off their new toys in order to gain admiration but the same behaviour in adults is usually derided. However Modi is impervious to all criticism that the once austere man now can’t get enough of designer clothes and accessories—changing four outfits a day, never repeating any and each costing about 3 lakhs, traipsing all over the world at the tax payers cost!
Nowhere has Modi’s narcissism been more embarrassing for the nation than in his insistence on a forced familiarity via awkward full contact hugs and hand-holding with world leaders, his selfies with them. It’s a variation of new toys, new ‘friends’—obviously, never the poor and ordinary, always the rich and powerful.
A person with a healthy sense of self can assess his own strengths and weakness and to a large extent accept and integrate both aspects. A Malignant Narcissist only rarely and perhaps unconsciously sees his flaws and then too, will outright reject what he deems the ‘inferior’ part in himself. This helps him maintain a self image of being absolutely Perfect.
So anyone who threatens to expose this inferior part, who challenges their perfection, their self image, who questions their ability, their honesty, their agenda—is an immediate and unqualified enemy!
So when Arvind Kejriwal states he thinks Modi might have him killed, it’s not hyperbole. If a man is capable of a pogrom like the one visited upon the Muslims in Gujarat and with No consequence to him, he would have absolutely no hesitation disappearing one man.
In an article in Psychology Today psychoanalyst & faculty at Columbia College, NYC, Dr Carrie Barron says, “The combination of subtle paranoia, lack of conscience and sadism in Malignant Narcissists renders these individuals scary, dangerous, and ruthless. Because they have not internalised the capacity for restraint, revenge for imagined assaults can be cruel, excessive and unfathomable. Their wish to humiliate and destroy can be extreme.”
There’s a concept called narcissistic injury which occurs when the narcissist feels slighted (even if it’s entirely in his own imagination), where he feels belittled or if he thinks he looks bad in the eyes of others, or if he doesn’t get the adulation and accolades he sees as his due.
When the Malignant Narcissist feels thus injured he reacts with disproportionate and uncontrollable rage, aggression and violence.
Narendra Modi doesn’t just hate Arvind Kejriwal because the latter challenges him and that too very publicly—Modi fears AK because in that one brief phrase, “you are a psychopath and coward”, AK very succinctly exposed Modi’s core—the bit Modi can’t bear to look at himself leave alone made visible to the whole world.
It was like pulling out the pin from a live grenade!
Not just AK but even Congress leaders and their supporters have challenged Modi’s U-turns, his blatant, bald faced lies, his underwriting of the financial scams and unpaid loans, illegal land deals and unmitigated benefitting of cronies like Adani and Ambani.
So why hasn’t Modi hasn’t taken umbrage to any one single leader in that party?!
Because, I believe, Modi has irrefutable knowledge and proof that the Congress leaders have their own skeletons that Modi can well expose. So as long as Modi is in the position of power, as long as he can manipulate his opponent, he continues to feel omnipotent and would even make polite enquiries about their health.
But with Arvind Kejriwal, Modi has no such leverage.
This of course hasn’t stopped him from cooking up false cases against AAP MLAs, harassing them on a daily basis in an stupefying display of petty vindictiveness.
So to summarize—a few more points that show it’s malignant narcissism:
- when you spend an hour being photographed by a Time magazine photographer who said he normally got only 10 minutes from other country heads.
- when you think the public is voting not for 543 Members of Parliament but for You alone.
- when you take NO responsibility for any killings, riots, brutalities, rapes even in areas where you are clearly responsible, where you are in charge
- when you are quick to steal credit for work done by others without ever acknowledging their contribution
- when you lie (about your education), steal, manipulate and feel No guilt
- when you encourage and actively support your cronies to ravage and steal from a country that’s entrusted you with protecting it
- when you engineer fake situations that spur enmity between communities
- when you denigrate for your own purposes the Constitution you took an oath to protect and serve
So, given that India has three more years to cope with a “psychopath”, what’s the solution for Arvind Kejriwal?
If this were a personal situation, I would very strongly advice AK to ‘walk away’. Don’t try to change the Narcissist, there is NO cure for Malignant Narcissism.
It would be a good idea to not challenge Modi unless absolutely necessary as in this state of infantile, malicious rage he does not have the capacity to be rational and therefore is actually, not just potentially, extremely dangerous.
To underestimate, or deny or assume what I say about Modi is just theory I would suggest AK to commission one of these eminent scholars and psychiatrists to analyse or do a psychological profile of Modi.
But given that Modi is the Prime Minister with untold power in his hands and AK being the fighter he is, this war is unlikely to end anytime soon.
However, Instead of being a straight shooting, in your face Arjun, I would tell AK to take many pages from Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
Sun Tzu was one the greatest military strategists in history and just one of the suggestions he made was, “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt”. In other words, employ strategy and manipulation to counter manipulation, keep your plans close to your chest.