Steve Jobs – The Orphan Heart 

A storm brewing in his orphan heart, tears in his eyes, an unbearable pain afflicting his tiny soul, young Steve Jobs rushed home from school to ask his adoptive parents whether he was “an unwanted child“. Steve had just confided with a close friend that he was adopted. She quipped that his parents may not have “wanted him” which upset him a lot. Clara and Paul Jobs (adoptive parents) doubly assured the crying boy that he is very much loved and wanted. They insisted and reinforced that he was very special child and they specifically chose him. (Modified from Steve Jobs biography)

Every child wants to be feel special and wants to know that he/she is in safe place with those who value him/her.Primal wounds have a strange way of affecting people and these wounds can have a long lasting effect, distorting their core drives and core motivations. Seeking to be loved and nurtured in a safe environment is our natural instinct. As we have discussed in Mate Recognition, Unconscious Coupling and Uncoupling, complex primal wounds have the possibility of permanently warping individual personality and creating children without conscience.

In studying the motives and personality of Steve Jobs,we cannot ignore his early childhood and how it shaped and influenced his personality. I discussed how Jobs’ intuitive faculty and his ability to see novelty in complex cues was responsible for his success. In this piece, the focus is on the more sad underpinnings of his life. I believe that psychosomatic illnesses untreated for long create clinical problems and it is possible that that long unresolved pain of being abandoned eventually led to Steve’s demise.

It is surprising that Steve Jobs succumbed to a treatable disease while not succumbing to bigger challenges at Apple and Pixar.Life has a strange way of hitting us where we least expect it to. It is very sad to decipher that someone who was loved so much by his customers due to the positive impact on the society was somehow looking for assurances that he was indeed lovable.Before I proceed further, please note that most of us suffer from childhood wounds and have mild to severe personality disorders so Steve Jobs was no different. . A holistic and compassionate perspective, not judgement is the aim of this post.

There have been some quips in the social media and news articles that Steve Jobs may have had an attachment disorder and was even depressed at times. This is quiet possible as the link between depression and creativity is now surfacing to be more stronger than before. Depression can be a cause or symptom. Many of us suffer from mental and emotional darkness, agonizing loneliness and the ones who can transcend these feelings do so by binding themselves with pursuits that can help them develop strong bond with the object of their focus (affective passion).

In some cases, adequately leveraged depression can be pivoted to help in creation of “Type 4″ entrepreneurs”. Type 4 entrepreneur are inventor entrepreneurs who have formed an affective bond with a concept or a product. Taking a concept to reality is a way of resolving their deep pain within.

Attachment disorder creates many personality related problems. When things didn’t go exactly the way Steve Jobs wanted, he could become utterly cold-hearted and cruel to people, almost sadistic, and take pride in his behavior as if it were a character strength. He was a demanding perfectionist whom Fortune Magazine once dubbed “one of Silicon Valley’s leading egomaniacs.”While perfectionism can be the result of intuitive processes, sometimes perfectionism can originate due to chronic OCD (Obsessive Complusive Disorder). Unable to deal with the anxieties within, some people divert attention by becoming over absorbed with the nuances of life.

There are also indications that Steve Jobs had repressed anger due to early abandonment hurt and not being able to rationalize why his biological parents gave him up for adoption. It was a feeling of being inadequate in some ways, being lesser than others and being unvalued. It is a  possibility that this repressed anger and the hypersensitive mental radar made him mistrust people.

[When his parents dropped him off] he refrained from even saying good-bye or thanks. He recounted the moment later with uncharacteristic regret: “It’s one of the things in life I really feel ashamed about. I was not very sensitive, and I hurt their feelings. I shouldn’t have. They had done so much to make sure I could go there, but I just didn’t want them around. I didn’t want anyone to know I had parents. I wanted to be like an orphan who had bummed around the country on trains and just arrived out of nowhere, with no roots, no connections, no background.” (Source – Business Insider)

Those with attachment disorders tend to behave in extreme ways. Moderation is not a strategy that they use in their behaviour. They can become extremely manipulative when they want something and drop people and connections like a hot cake when they are of no use. There are also indications that he did not take rejection easily (once again a sign of attachment disorder and childhood wounds).

Isaacson asked Jobs’ best friend Jony Ive what he thought on “Why Steve Jobs was so rude”. Here’s his response:

I once asked him why he gets so mad about stuff. He said, “But I don’t stay mad.” He has this very childish ability to get really worked up about something, and it doesn’t stay with him at all. But, there are other times, I think honestly, when he’s very frustrated, and his way to achieve catharsis is to hurt somebody. And I think he feels he has a liberty and license to do that. The normal rules of social engagement, he feels, don’t apply to him. Because of how very sensitive he is, he knows exactly how to efficiently and effectively hurt someone. And he does do that. (Source – Business Insider)

Steve Jobs creativity was a result of his complex personality and we must not forget that the person who created significant transformation at earlier Apple, Pixar and the new Apple was a normal person, like you and me. He was vulnerable to early childhood hurts and his special sad circumstances should make us view him and his life compassionately.

Remember the famous movie Toy Story by Pixar films. This was the movie series that made Pixar what it became before being acquired by Walt Disney. Steve Jobs had an intense involvement in the creation of this movie and project. It seems that some of the scenes in these movies were playing out his own life.In its third series of Toy Story, the character of Andy heads off to college and bids farewell to his own parents, prompting his mother to say, “I wish I could always be with you.”

“You always will be,” Andy reassures both parents.

The feeling of melancholy, pangs of separation and the lingering loneliness gets amplified in this scene from the movie. It is possible that in spite of being married, he felt the above feelings as a common denominator in his life.Steve Jobs will always be with us, in our hearts and minds and we hope that he found peace in his death and it resolved his unbearable orphan heart pains.