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Sudhir Kakar on his autobiography

Sudhir Kakar in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times at the launch of his autobiography.

books Updated: Feb 16, 2011 10:32 IST

"I was more interested in the shape and contours of my psyche and those of others", says the celebrated Indian Psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar, in an exclusive interview with

Hindustan Times

at the launch of his autobiography,

A Book Of Memory.

You have authored several books fiction and non-fiction, how have your literary career and your professional experiences helped shape your own understanding of yourself?

I think all you do shapes your understanding of yourself if you keep reflecting on what you have done, if you don't reflect then you can do a lot of stuff and it doesn't make a difference. Experience really is not events; otherwise any old person would have a lot of experience, which is not true. Experience is events multiplied by how much you have learnt from it. So if you are learning from those events, which means if your self-reflection is low then you don't learn from it. So all that I have written, for me, is an exploring of myself.

Is psychoanalysis really a god way to learn about oneself?

Yes, very much so. Psychoanalysis is a biographical self. What you have in your past, your memories, your suppressed memories the ones you don't want to surface, you bring them to life, so it kind of completes your story. Mostly we have only half stories about ourselves, so psychoanalysis if it goes well, it completes your story and also the unlived parts or the unremembered and unwanted parts. And its good to be a complete person than be half a person.

What according to you has led to the popularity of the science of psychology from the times when you studied it?

It is a change in a certain class of people. Much greater individuality, it is no longer just a part of the family, or part of a community but I am also something separate, the realisation which is due to media and global influences. And psychology explores individuality, so it is help for 'who am I' separate from relations that define us.

Why did you abandon a great career at IIM-A for a career, which was not very popular then?

IIM's, management's help others make money and make money themselves, that has never really been my interest. So I did it because it was supposed to be a good thing but I was bored (not that management is boring it can be interesting for some people) but for me personally I was more interested in the shape and contours of my psyche and those of others…of writing their stories and psychoanalysis is really stories. You hear stories about other people and the patients tell you their stories and you add to it, create a story together. So hat was my interest that was not fulfilled there.

Who has been your inspiration?

There are many inspirations. The first inspiration was an aunt when I was six years old who introduced me to books. She told me stories of

Ramayana

and

Mahabharata

. I haven't met her for 60 years and she doesn't know it but yes she is definitely an inspiration. Then, my teacher, the man who bought me to this career, Erik H. Erickson. Inspirations are many when you start looking for it.