My wife noted, “The worst part is that Musk is unaware of the magnitude of his problems.”
I don’t think his problem is a lack of awareness. The biggest problem is that he genuinely doesn’t think there are better solutions.
In the latest book on Musk by Issacson, Musk acknowledged his situation multiple times. He was aware of his issues, his tendencies, and the impact he makes. He appears to genuinely believe that nothing can solve his issues—not therapy, not gong baths, not psychedelic trips. He’s intellectually disciplined and well-read. He’s used his brain to crack some of the most difficult problems, from landing rockets to making electric cars a reality. He’s probably researched, consulted, and read widely about potential solutions to his psychological conditions. He probably believes the people that have the best shot at figuring himself out, is him, and he is trying his hardest. His conclusion likely stems from rational analysis rather than emotional reaction.
This is a very common dilemma for smart and successful people. They are so intellectually rigorous they genuinely cannot rationally accept alternatives they deem inferior to their own conclusions.
When it comes to our personal journey, it’s hard to shake the belief that no one understands us better than we do. It’s tough to accept that there might be better ways to address our problems, especially when most routes are time-consuming, imprecise, and borderline unscientific. It took me three therapists and over five years to see even a glimmer of progress. Medication was a temporary aid but never a solution. Improvements were hit-or-miss, hard to attribute, and took forever to show up. I never knew if my improved mood was a result of well-practiced CBT tactics or atmospheric pressure du jour or warm sourdough toast. It was tough to figure out what was working and what wasn’t. The worst part was that life didn’t wait for these experimental methods to work. In reality, more often than not, nothing worked when I needed them to work, and hence I had to fall back on trusted but flawed coping mechanisms because even though they were destructive and harmful, they guaranteed some predictability – the only source of comfort I could find.
I’m concerned about Musk. I think he’ll have a tough time finding his way out. He’s ramping up his coping mechanisms, whether it’s “surge modes,” chaos, or seeking love from finding more partners and having more children. His increasing success and power further validate his analysis of his intellect and skills, making him even more doubtful of anyone else’s solutions. I’m worried that the chaos he needs might one day harm humanity. He now wields the kind of power and influence that can cause real damage, from his Twitter antics to his involvement in Ukraine.
At the same time, I commend him. Many of us flawed souls end up in jail. Most of us who have daddy issues achieve nothing. But he has managed to turn darkness into such greatness. And for that, I wish him peace. He deserves it.