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Tesla And Elon Musk As A Psychological Drama


Tesla's slammed with a sinking stock price, news of reworked parts, misrepresentations about worker safety, lawsuit for lying about Model 3 ramp, ejection from NTSB investigation.

This is probably a good time to speculate upon Elon's psychological profile and how he will handle Tesla's impending doom.

This article is pure speculation by an unabashed bear, should be only read when partaking in flaming absinthe, and should not be acted upon in any way.

Elon himself admits that he is likely bi-polar, but I would think he's more of a Cluster B candidate. I'm going to first see how many boxes one might be able to check for Elon on each of these Cluster B disorders:

Antisocial personality disorder:

Disregard for society's laws (NTSB feud, underreporting worker injuries
 Violation of the physical or emotional rights of others (screwing ex-wife Justine Musk over in divorce, trying to turn his ex wives into "platinum blonde" trophy wives, telling Justine to suck it up after she had a miscarriage and divorcing Justine when Elon didn't feel like going to counseling. " What was clear is that people who worked for him were like ammunition: used for a specific purpose until exhausted and discarded.")
 Lack of stability in job and home life (AI, tunnels, rockets, flamethrowers, hats, rock legos, and last but not least, cars; unable to maintain relationships with significant others)
 Irritability and aggressiveness (shoving aside Doug Field when things get out of whack because Elon had unrealistic expectations, Tesla shareholder/Model 3 fraud lawsuit:
"128. FE1 told Musk directly at the meeting that the start of manufacturing would be at least 6 months later than July 2017, i.e., in 2018. FE1 further told Musk that Tesla needed to expand the area needed at the Fremont plant to prepare the body of the Model 3. Musk rejected this idea.
"129. At the conclusion of the April or May 2016 meeting, Musk told FE1 that he should look for new employment. FE1 resigned from Tesla because of the false timeline for the Model 3. FE1 stated that it was obvious to everyone in the factory that Tesla would not be producing 5,000 cars per week by the end of 2017.")
? Lack of remorse (Elon did finally own up to screwing up the Model 3 production line automation, but then doubles down by announcing his Soviet-style shock production brigade strategy)
Consistent irresponsibility ("CEOs should not take vacations" in production hell... Helicopters! Tunnels! Rockets! Oh my!)
Recklessness, impulsivity ("I don't really have a business plan.")
Deceitfulness (Where are them roller coasters and frozen yogurt machines at NUMMI, Elon?)
? A childhood diagnosis (or symptoms consistent with) conduct disorder

Elon seems to score a 7/9 on the Antisocial list. Let's now look at Borderline Personality Disorder:

Borderline personality disorder:

Impulsive and risky behavior, such as having unsafe sex, gambling or binge eating (see above on impulsivity - Elon's impulsivity isn't as pedestrian as most, it's more focused on an entrepreneurial rush and getting people's attention)
? Unstable or fragile self-image ("I'm not really a businessman." "Do you remember your last dream? I do remember, but I'm not going to tell you. Why? Because I don't wish to appear neurotic.")
Unstable and intense relationships (See above; "When I was a child, there's one thing I said," Musk continues. His demeanor is stiff, yet in the sheen of his eyes and the trembling of his lips, a high tide of emotion is visible, pushing against the retaining walls. "'I never want to be alone.' That's what I would say." His voice drops to a whisper. "I don't want to be alone.")
Up and down moods, often as a reaction to interpersonal stress ("The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress".)
X Suicidal behavior or threats of self-injury (No sign of this yet.)
Intense fear of being alone or abandoned (See above Rolling Stone interview)
Ongoing feelings of emptiness (See above Rolling Stone interview)
? Frequent, intense displays of anger (Intense, yes, see Paragraph 178. But frequent? Unknown.)
Stress-related paranoia that comes and goes
("Do you ever worry that other governments or industries are going to try to stop you?" "Never attribute to malice that which can easily be explained by incompetence or stupidity, or not caring. Most of the time, people don't care. If they're not against you, they don't think of you at all.") vs. (His children lean over the phone, looking at a table full of numbers that I don't understand. So his 13-year-old, Griffin, explains it to me: "They're betting that the stock goes down, and they're getting money off that. But it went up high, so they lost an insane amount of money." "They're jerks who want us to die," Musk elaborates. "They're constantly trying to make up false rumors and amplify any negative rumors. It's a really big incentive to lie and attack my integrity. It's really awful. It's...")

Elon seems to score a 6/9 on the BPD list. Moving on to Histrionic Personality Disorder:

Histrionic personality disorder:

Constantly seeking attention (just won't shut up on social media, loves being on camera such as at SXSW, SpaceX launches, product "reveals", etc.)
? Excessively emotional, dramatic or sexually provocative to gain attention (Not sure if his BS "visionary" pronouncements count)
Speaks dramatically with strong opinions, but few facts or details to back them up (See above BS "visionary" pronouncements; also, see this and this)
X Easily influenced by others (Bloody stubborn is more like it)
? Shallow, rapidly changing emotions (Only his therapist would know if his emotions are shallow, but rapidly changing, definitely)
? Excessive concern with physical appearance (Brother Kimbal, also a Tesla board member, with his stupid hat, is most definitely vainglorious)
X Thinks relationships with others are closer than they really are (Elon's followers, maybe, but Elon doesn't appear to be particularly gullible from exterior influences)

Possible score of 2/7, so very not likely. Moving on to NPD:

Narcissistic personality disorder:

Belief that you're special and more important than others (I feel this is kind of unfair considering he's the CEO and so of course more important than a janitor or line worker, and in fact Tesla cannot survive without Elon's hype. But Elon is a cult leader type. Elon believes in his own hype, he is blinded by his own failed prognostications, and has nothing but contempt for authority that gets in his way, such as the NTSB. So I'd give this a weak ).
Fantasies about power, success and attractiveness (Elon's come closer to his fantasies than most people, but they remain fantasies. There's simply no market for $50k Model 3 BEVs and Elon is banking everything on this fantastic narrative.)
     Failure to recognize others' needs and feelings (No bonus points for multiple checkmarks, but look at how he treats his ex-wives and subordinates. "Elon's worst trait by far, in my opinion, is a complete lack of loyalty or human connection." )
Exaggeration of achievements or talents (Look at how Elon got jealous of and booted out Martin Eberhard)
✓ Expectation of constant praise and admiration (Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Can't take criticism? *rolls eyes* Yeah.)
✓ Arrogance
Unreasonable expectations of favors and advantages, often taking advantage of others (See Elon's latest email crapping on suppliers again.)
X Envy of others or belief that others envy you (It's obvious that people envy Elon, so any belief of people's envy is entirely warranted and should rightly exist. Does Elon envy others though? Not sure. So I'm going to be safe and discount this factor.)

Maybe an 8/9 on the NPD checklist. And I'm not the only one who thinks Elon's a narcissist. Out of the other Cluster B disorders, Elon seems to score the highest on the NPD chart.

If Elon really has NPD, then it becomes easier to understand what Tesla's end game will be. We already know Tesla is "structurally bankrupt" even with a good Model 3 ramp, and Elon's all in on the Model 3 as the existential problem for Tesla to solve. So what might Elon's and Tesla's end game look like?

- More violent mood swings, screaming at underlings, projection of negativity upon third parties such as suppliers and contractors;

- Enhanced splitting (seeing the world in black/white), crazier declarations of "us against the world";

- Wilder swings between dysphoria and anhedonia, greater isolation of himself;

- More abuse at underlings for their perceived failures and incompetence, more and more high ranked underlings leave, especially those who do not or cannot feed Elon's narcissism;

- Even greater proclamations of future achievements clearly indicative of magical thinking to cover over past failures;

- Bringing up past achievements;

- OCD, repetitive tendencies manifest themselves.

Ultimately, Elon seems likely to go down with the Tesla-tanic that he himself has plot its course on (very much like Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos fame, but I digress), and every step of the way Elon will lay blame at all others' feet (middle management incompetence, unnecessary rules and bureaucracy, lack of common sense in lower management, line workers' unionization efforts, suppliers not up to spec, customers not knowing how to use his cars properly, contractors ripping Tesla off, regulators getting in Tesla's way, analysts who are bean counters and focused on numbers and not vision, Big Auto and Big Oil conspiring to hurt Tesla, and, of course, shorts being jerks who want Tesla to die.

Elon cannot back down (because it will admit defeat and will sink Tesla stock) and will not back down (because of his ego and possible NPD), and now I'm thinking about writing a screenplay on this wonderfully profitable psych drama.

Recommendation: I'm not a shrink. The above is my own uninformed commentary. Don't act upon one man's rants and raves.

Disclosure: I am/we are short TSLA.