THE BLOG
07/17/2012 10:06 am ET | Updated Sep 16, 2012

Greed as Psycho-Pathology and Addiction

It is a social norm that people acquire material things to clothe themselves, help them furnish a home, a vehicle for transportation and to engage in modern life, such as the use of a computer, Internet, phone, TV, radio as well as some things for play, enjoyment, sport and entertainment.

It has become a social norm that people can also go to any extent in order to acquire the funds so to acquire massive amounts of the above-listed items, so that houses should be Mcmansions, many vehicles to serve different moods or satisfy inner issues regarding prestige and status and wardrobes and play toys that run into the thousands of hundreds of thousands of dollars, all the while, some 12 million children in the so-called richest country in the world, the USA, go to bed hungry.

It has become a social norm that "more is better." The value of money has long superseded the value of ethics, proportion, integrity or legality in our society. As a result, our society is suffering profoundly, especially in its lower economic rungs and with no end in sight. Do you say "so what?" or do you say "there is something odd here, just not right in our values."

I propose that there is no end in sight because what I am suggesting to be the primary cause, unbridled greed allowed by Congress to be unbridled even when clearly unethical and often blatantly illegal, goes unabated and unrecognized as a pathology, worthy of being listed in the psychiatric manual, the DSM4.

But instead of seeing the behaviors of our banking industry, in conjunction with our government as psycho-pathological, as a society, so distorted is our relationship to money, we actually hold the biggest money-makers as heroes, even if they stepped on heads to get there, rendered millions of families homeless and literally were responsible for parents to not have food to feed their children to realize their financial gain.

It is not just the banking industry alone; this is a systemic illness that is across many sectors and is, unfortunately, quite contagious. It should also be said that there are many, many businesses and corporations who embrace socially- and eco-conscious values and stand in their own dignity and integrity, not associated with the pathological activities of other heads of corporations.

It apparently has to be stated in stark terms with a straight line drawn between the actions of the largest banks in our country and the homeless population now in America, since before, during and after the 2008 financial debacle and economic bubble burst, otherwise many people don't really digest the causal relationship here.

The complexity of issues involved was well-articulated in the Academy Award-winning film Inside Job. This film made clear many of the ways different government agencies were stopped from pursuing criminal investigations into the banking industry, how Alan Greenspan chased the Commodities Exchange Futures Commission (CFTC) and the SEC away from regulating derivatives trading and how the FDR-initiated, Glass-Steagall Act, which served the American People for decades got repealed by the same kind of "Wall Street hustling" that dominated and continues to dominate our economy. It's an inside job!

In sum, Inside Job, award-winning producer-journalist Danny Schechter's films Plunder and In Debt We Trust, along with others and numerous books, outline just how the thefts have been engineered and the wool pulled over the American People's eyes.

At base is that as a society we still lavish kudos, regale the Enrons of the world, which was proven to be a fraudulent firm, which put millions of dollars into a number of executive's pockets by defrauding the American People. There is a psychological issue in the American psyche, that seems to worship money and power even beyond its own well-being, a form of hero-worship that is seeding the worshiper's own destruction.

Due to a massive, mainstream education some time back about the serious, potentially life-threatening effects of smoking cigarettes, the idolatry and "coolness and sexiness" "cooled." During this time, there was a societal shift of perception of what used to be a doctor-and-Hollywood-advocated ritual of "being hip." No longer was it being perceived as such, and then even legislation changed locally and nationally regarding smoking in public, on transportation, etc.

Once the mainstream begins to perceive that the unadulterated greed engaged by so much of the Wall St. banking community is really a mental process that the brain reacts to similarly to cocaine, a similar shift could occur as it did with smoking, and the hero worship will diminish along with legislation, finally being drafted.

Imagine a gambler who is willing to lose the family house or farm, all for the opportunity to win a fortune. What is the difference between that and the derivatives market or credit default swaps with your client's money? At least in the former, it's your own farm; in the latter, it's your neighbor's. Can you imagine losing 9 billion dollars as Morgan Stanley did in one derivatives deal that went south and how many neighbor's farms that would equal? We must recognize that Casino Capitalism is a profound gambling addiction with largely other people's money, it is also theft and thereby criminal.

As a psychotherapist, I suggest that, We the People, take a good, long look at how we hold in mind money and the largest makers of money because our conscious and subconscious view is leading to our undoing. I suggest that while money is clearly a form of neutral energy that fuels our economy, it has become an idol, in direct opposition to fundamental principles of our society. Moses may have done a service to us thousands of years ago the value of which we have not fully recognized.

I suggest that making money, while a perfectly fine, valuable and necessary activity to engage, can be done in an ethical way that does not jeopardize people or harm our environment. It does not have to be executed excessively to the extent that greed is engaged. This post is not saying that making money is a problem in itself -- it is saying however, that how we make money needs to be carefully scrutinized for the consequences of the way of the making.

From engaging in massive deal-making, through neuroscience, we know that parts of the brain are engaged that are similar to the effect of cocaine.

In short, I'm suggesting that greed, which is the pursuit and acquisition of money at any expense, is a pathological activity, is actually an addiction, and should be societally regarded as such. When it harms others or the environment, it is also a form of criminal insanity and should be treated legally and psychologically as such.

It is currently ruining our society, the lack of leadership in the White House and Congress continues to condone the unethical and often illegal but unprosecuted acts, and as a result, our government and elected officials are complicit in these ongoing acts which were not stopped when our economy was crippled -- again -- in September 2008. Glass-Steagall, the strongest piece of legislation to criminalize the combining of different banking activities, was not reinstated, and the political will to do so is faint.

When we as a People, recognize that we are giving energy to the addicted criminals because of the high regard in which we collectively view the wealthy, as somehow beyond reproach, then we will start to see more legislation to criminalize these activities, to reinstate Glass-Steagall and to treat the pathology of greed as an addiction, fundamentally based on a profound fear 'of Not Enough' as well as "I'm not good enough", the deep wound of the greedy, miser-Midas archetype, that dominates their psyche.

At base, the unbridled acquisition of money at any expense should be recognized as form of violence It is not seen as such because of 'who' it is that is doing it who are considered, as said, to be "icons" of our society, but this is simply not so. It is up to us to change this old, Hollywood-like, long-outdated attitude and curiously perverse perspective. These people are significantly contributing to destroying our economy, our People and our planet. It must be seen for what it is.

I suggest we reevaluate this according to an understanding of the actions from the points of view of history, psychology and archetype so to transform our perspective, which can then lead to a transformation of the illness and our economic well-being and future.