Schizoid Personality, Kazuo Ishiguro & The Remains of the Day.

“Stevens puts his absolute trust and devotion in a man who makes drastic mistakes. In the totality of his professional commitment, Stevens fails to pursue the one woman with whom he could have had a fulfilling and loving relationship. His prim mask of formality cuts him off from intimacy, companionship, and understanding.”

–              Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro is Booker Prize winning British novelist, who wrote an interesting novel, Remains of the day, which focuses on pre-World War II period. Narrator is British butler called James Stevens.


James Stevens was devoted to his master Lord Darlington and was a very efficient Butler. Lord Darlington believed that Treaty of Versailles was unjust to Germans, so was sympathetic to Nazis. He was very keen to improve relations between British and Germans, he use to keep meetings of British and Germans politicians at his mansion- Darlington Hall. Lord Darlington was ably served by butler James Stevens and house keeper Miss. Kenton.

James did not see world beyond his job as butler to Lord Darlington. He did not have any personal life. In three critical events of his life he gave more importance to his job than human relations. He continued with his job even when his father was dying, he fired two Jewish maids in Darlington Hall  because Lord Darlington was infatuated with Nazi ideology of Germans, lastly, he could never reciprocate feeling Miss. Kenton had for him resulting in Miss.Kenton quitting service and becoming Mrs.Benn.


”Lord Darlington wasn’t a bad man. He wasn’t a bad man at all. And at least he had the privilege of being able to say at the end of his life that he made his own mistakes. . . . He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lordship’s wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted that I was doing something worthwhile. I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really – one has to ask oneself – what dignity is there in that?”

  • James Stevens, The Remains of the Day.


Schizoid Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of detachment from social relationships. A person with schizoid personality disorder often has difficulty expressing emotions, may appear to lack a desire for intimacy, and will avoid close relationships with others. He may often prefer to spend time with himself rather than socialize or be in a group of people.

“Perhaps it is indeed time I began to look at this whole matter of bantering more enthusiastically. After all, when one thinks about it, it is not such a foolish thing to indulge in – particularly if it is the case that in bantering lies the key to human warmth.”

― James Stevens, The Remains of the Day 

James is a typical case of such personality disorder. He cannot understand why people joke or  have fun (in James words- banter). His new owner is an American called Mr. Farraday, a jovial person, so just to please his master; James resolves to learn bantering as part of his job!




Abnormal Psychology, Anti-Social Personality Disorder and Hybristophilia

“We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.”

  • Ted Bundy, American serial killer


Karen Horney did lot of research on personality. Her theory was a child experiences anxiety if it has unpleasant childhood. To cope with anxiety it does one of the three things- it moves towards people or it moves away from people or it moves against people. One of the personality disorders that moves against people is anti- social personality disorder- ASPD. People suffering from such disorder have a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. They have poor moral sense or conscience and a history of crime, legal problems, and impulsive and aggressive behaviour.

You may find some people in your organisation who suffer from moderate form of ASPD. Hogan Development Test calls them Mischievous. These people like to cause trouble. They ignore rules on a regular basis, and prefer to work outside of accepted guidelines. They’re very charming, and use their charm to avoid being caught or punished.

In its extreme form, it can result in serial killers. Ted Bundy was an American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, and necrophile who belonged to this category. He assaulted and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s, shortly before his execution, he confessed to 30 homicides.

“What’s one less person on the face of the earth, anyway?”

-Ted Bundy


Ted Bundy was smart and charming person, who had done graduation in Psychology and was studying law. This helped him to attract women, most ended up becoming victims of his crime. He continued to attract women even after he was caught. During trial lot of women used to attend court just to catch glimpse of him and wrote love letters to him, while he was in prison. This attraction towards a criminal esp. committing serious crimes like rape and murder is called as Hybristophilia.

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, was an American serial killer and sex offender, who committed the rape, murder and was also involved in necrophilia and cannibalism. A clerk called Karen Rasmussen fell love with him and believed that her love could transform Jeffery.


All he needs is someone to care for him and I believe I am that person… with little love and affection he could be wonderful guy.”

– Karen Rasmussen

Psychopathology, Narcissistic killer and Noble Prize winner

In 1968, Prosenjit Poddar, an Indian student went to California for studies, there he met a lady called Tatiana Tarasoff at a dance class in California. They dated briefly, but she rejected him. Poddar, could not handle rejection and kept asking Tatiana why she was rejecting him, he went into depression and was recommended for treatment.


He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. During treatment he told his therapist that he wanted to kill Tatiana. Therapist was in dilemma, if he told police about this he was violating confidentiality clause with his patient, if he didn’t he was endangering life of a person. He decided to inform police about it and told them to confine Poddar to hospital, but Poddar convinced campus police he was not dangerous.

In the summer of 1969, after she returned from a vacation, Poddar stabbed Tarasoff to death with a kitchen knife. Poddar was convicted and deported back to India after his conviction was overturned. Her parents sued the campus police for failing to warn that their daughter was in danger.

This led to the famous Tarasoff decision, which ruled physicians now must warn potential victims of a psychiatric patient.

Poddar was lucky, had he committed this crime two decades earlier he would have most likely undergone lobotomy.

At the 1935 International Neurological Conference in London, Portuguese neurologist Antônio Egas Moniz encountered the work of Fulton and Jacobsen who had observed behavioural changes in chimpanzees following removal of the frontal lobes.


Together with his assistant Almeida Lima, Moniz initially adapted the technique for humans by drilling holes in the skull and injecting alcohol into the frontal lobes. The procedure of parietal prefrontal leucotomy was later developed, involving severing fibre tracts between the thalamus and the frontal lobes with a retractable wire loop or ‘leucotome’.  This became popular technique to control psychological disorders esp. schizophrenia.

In 1949, Moniz was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine with the Swiss physiologist Walter Hess.

The American psychiatrist Walter Freeman further developed this by accessing the frontal lobes through the eye sockets (trans-orbital leucotomy or lobotomy). The procedure was eventually abandoned as a therapy for schizophrenia with the advent of the phenothiazines.



In 1945, one of this patients shot Dr Egas Moniz in this spine, due to which he became an invalid . He died in Lisbon in 1955.

Laws of Talent Development

First law of talent development: “The beginnings of any technology-rich business are all characterized by a shortage of large numbers of technically trained people needed to support ultimate growth”

Second law of talent development: “The resources will come when the business becomes attractive to the best-and brightest who adapt skills to become part of an exciting opportunity”


Game Theory, Job Market and MBA Degree


Cliché-“The MBA changed my life.” What it really means: “A fantastic career, a great social life and a healthy bank balance…three of the things I had before I started the program.”

– Sameer Kamat, author of Beyond the MBA Hype

Michael Spence is a Noble Prize winning economist, who came up with job market signaling model. In this model degree is a signal given by candidate about his competence to employer. Here candidate knows if he is competent or not, but employer doesn’t. Candidate’s degree is a signal to employer to take decision.

Let us assume that MBA degree differentiates between competence levels – High vs. Average. Since it is a game theory, we assume that all players are rational i.e. they know if they are competent or not. MBA degree is not easy to get and costs lot of money.


Now a person with MBA is paid Rs.1500000 and non MBA Rs.800000, while degree costs Rs.X.

At the end of the year a MBA nets -1500000-X, a degree will make sense only if (1500000-X) > 800000, else a person is better off without MBA degree. Now a person with lesser competence wants to do MBA, degree will cost him more (in terms of efforts, opportunity cost, time required etc.) say 2X. So if 800000 > (1500000-2X) then degree is productive for him. If we solve two equations, we find that MBA degree should be priced between Rs.350000 and Rs.700000. Now given fact that most of the candidates are average (as per normal distribution), it makes sense to price degree at Rs.350001 than at Rs.699999.


Now if degree is priced too high, then all candidates are sailing in same boat, they will not opt for MBA degree. In this case the employer is beneficiary because he will then offer everyone low salary.





Rock-Scissors- Paper, Christie’s and Lizard

As both companies were equally good and I just could not choose one, I asked them to please decide between themselves and suggested to use such methods as rock, paper, scissors. I sometimes use such methods when I cannot make a decision.”

-Takashi Hashiyama, President of Maspro Denkoh Corporation

In game theory, there is an interesting game called as Rock, Scissors and Paper.  The game is played between two players. They have to simultaneously make gestures with hand -Rock, Scissors or Paper. The Rock beats Scissors, the Scissors beat Paper and the Paper beats Rock; if players throw the same shape, the game is tied and the game is played again. This game is useful for selecting randomly. I am sure most of you must have played this game in childhood.


There is Japanese version of this game called as Kitsune-ken. Here a supernatural fox called a kitsune defeats the village head, the village head defeats the hunter, and the hunter defeats the fox.


Once a President of Japanese company Maspro wanted to sell his company’s art collection, the collection included paintings by Cézanne, Picasso & Van Gogh. He wanted to select between Christie’s and Sotheby’s, as he wanted only one of them to conduct auction. He called representatives of Christie’s and Sotheby’s and told them that winner will be decided based on game of Rock. Scissors and Paper.

Both started working on strategy. Winning was important, as auction houses make lot of money by selling paintings. Suppose a painting sells for $ 3,00,000, then fee is charged as follows.

For first $2,00,000, they charge 20% i.e. $40,000, for balance they change 12% i.e. for next $1,00,000 they will charge $ 12000, so total fees charged is $ 52000.


Sotheby’s without much research decided to go with paper. Christie’s on the other hand did more research, Ms. Kanae Ishibashi, President of Christie’s Japan spent lot of time on understanding psychology behind the game. Finally she took advice of two experts- 11 year old twins- Flora and Alice, who used to play this game every day. Conversation between them is given below.

“Everybody knows you always start with scissors,” Alice added. “Rock is way too obvious, and scissors beats paper.” Flora piped in. “Since they were beginners, scissors was definitely the safest,” she said, adding that if the other side were also to choose scissors and another round was required, the correct play would be to stick to scissors – because, as Alice explained, “Everybody expects you to choose rock.”

So Christie’s decided to go ahead with Scissors. The game was played at Maspro’s office in Tokyo. Instead of hand gestures, the contestants were asked to write their option on piece of paper. Christie’s won because- Scissors beats Paper.


Another application of this game is in evolutionary psychology- mate selection. Females of species of lizard in North America decide selection of males based on their colour. Males have one of three colours- orange, blue and yellow.  In competition, orange beats blue, blue beats yellow, and yellow beats orange.