I 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.
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.