05:47am Wednesday 23 October 2019

Psychologist explains financial market madness

The book, Towards a Socioanalysis of Money, Finance and Capitalism, was co-edited by RMIT University’s Adjunct Professor Susan Long.

It is the first study of its kind to use psychoanalysis to explain decisions that triggered the financial collapse.

Looking at the root causes of the economic crisis, Adjunct Professor Long said there was a culture of fear and anxiety among the highest levels of management.

“Making important and risky decisions under these circumstances leads to increased anxiety,” she said.

“Too often that anxiety is managed by bravado, avoidance or other such defences. These can become collective defences and part of the culture.”

The book describes a common culture among financial institutions of recklessness and a lack of awareness of the impact of their decisions.

“Bad decisions occur due to arrogance, extensive ego-involvement, group pressure and blind competitiveness,” Adjunct Professor Long said.

“Many key factors that led to the financial crisis were due to wishful thinking, when leaders fooled themselves that various risks could be overcome despite evidence to the contrary.

“Perhaps they do this because of ego-investment or anxiety, while some come from peer pressure to conform despite one’s better judgment.”

Adjunct Professor Long, who is also President of the Psychoanalytic Studies Association of Australasia, co-edited the book with Emeritus Professor Burkard Sievers from the Schumpeter School of Business and Economics at Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany.

Contributions to the book came from Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, The Netherlands, the UK and the USA. The examples all reflected similar themes.

For interviews or comment: Adjunct Professor Susan Long, 0448 007 453.

General media enquiries: RMIT Communications, Kevin Slack, 0439 499 008.

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