Is Elon Musk a Hero or an Idiot?

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Is Elon Musk a Hero?

The short answer is yes, sort of.  He likes to do ridiculous things, despite the odds. Heroes abhor limits.  They don’t admit any bodily weaknesses. Mr Musk, by all accounts, is morally flawed and clearly all over the place, but he does like to get in to a fight.  The bad news is that heroes don’t usually have a good ending.  They meet horrible and grisly ends.  Usually a spear through the head.  Elon Musk has made a lot of money and a lot of things.  But he is fighting against things that are bigger than him.  He has most of Wall Street betting on his demise.  Short sellers, who don't believe in heroes, are betting on making money when reality catches up with Mr Musk, and his stock price crashes.  They are billions in profit just this month, as reality hasn't matched his overblown rhetoric.  Other car manufacturers are lining up their own electric cars to compete with Mr Musk.  The Saudi fund he hoped would invest in him has all but disappeared and are speaking to rival companies.  The banks that Mr Musk paid to advise him on taking his company private, for hefty fees, have all but deserted him.  After getting paid they have resumed their coverage to their customers, advising them to sell up.  Elon Musk is a hero in the tragic Greek sense.  He is going to fight a battle against the odds and he is going to pay a price for it.  He tells us that he sleeps at his factory, like a warrior embedded amongst his troops.  He has given up normal social engagements, only making a “flying visit” to his brother’s wedding.  Literally, he got off the plane, made his speech and then went back to the factory.  He has set himself punishing manufacturing targets which put him on edge.  He is self-medicating with marijuana and prescription drugs.  Even more strangely, he is engaging in all sorts of bizarre feuds.  For instance, disappointed at the reception of his mini submarine, offered to rescue Thai children stranded in an underground cave, he has accused one of the divers of being a paedophile.  Mr Musk, is clearly going underwater himself.  Its only a matter of time where he will need an escape submarine for himself.  However, the tragedy is that heroes can’t usually climb down, or find the escape hatch.  Due to some fatal flaw in their psyche, they will perish in battle.  They are drawn to unwinnable battles like moths to light.  Perhaps that is why we talk about them and even admire them.  We know they are going to lose, but we know they will fight, nevertheless, against all the odds.  The heroic mode of life is a short intense phase.  We may all need to be heroic at times, but after multiple bruises and wounds, we may need to re-consider, and find an alternative mode of living.  But something in Mr Musk’s psyche seems to hint that he just can’t walk away. 

Ajay Khandelwal PhD

Ajay Khandelwal is an experienced psychotherapist and consultant. He welcomes contact and enquiries and is accepting new clients via zoom during the shut down.