In May, 2008, The New York Times ran an article by Sarah Kershaw on the psychic pain of the Wall Street layoff http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/25/business/25pain.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink. When I talked then about the increased stress and strain my Wall Street patients were experiencing, I dubbed it “the depression of the depression.” It was a kind of snappy figure of speech: I’m no economist, and the U.S. economy at that point wasn’t even officially considered to be in a recession. But I was detecting a level of fear, a kind of psychic stretch-to-the-breaking point so different from anything I’d seen before that I had to call it. We laughed, and I prayed.
But I was seeing something in my practice even back then that I hadn’t seen before in over 30 years of treating financial services professionals. It wasn’t a pretty picture. It cut across orientation, strategy, sector, philosophy. Hedge fund or private equity guys, day traders, analysts, private bankers, real estate folks and more were so stressed I needed another word for it. Whatever aspects of the financial markets, business, money and information they were dealing with, well, these folks who thrive on challenge and competition, who love analyzing and processing information, who crave the feel of adrenaline coursing through their veins, were riding an emotional roller coaster that just kept going and going. For some, it also kept giving and giving. (Until it abruptly didn’t). For others, it just didn’t feel like anything they’d seen before and they couldn’t wrap their heads around it. And for some, they were having a tough time sticking with strategy.
But something was going on and it was affecting my patients and clients more and more than they were affecting it.
So here we are, months later. Paul Sullivan writes about the mind-set shift, anxiety triggered by the “wholesale collapse of three things in which Americans invest tremendous pride and self-esteem: homes, jobs and investments” : http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/07/your-money/07wealth.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink
All manner of experts have opined, continue to. Bernie’s come and not soon enough gone, and more Bernie wanna be’s emerge daily. The times they are a changin’ and smarter minds than mine are, I do so hope, working on it. For the rest of us, the ground’s still moving and we haven’t settled into the next version of normal.
But I’m sensing a growing desire to slow things down, to disconnect from the race and reconnect to ourselves and one another. To expand our definitions of success and happiness and what matters. To breathe together…
Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.