Addiction, Overtrading, and Patience

Discussion in 'Psychology' started by Trader2538, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. Most of the trading I do is not for profit. It is for psychological highs. I have read that the highs associated with making money can be as strong and addictive as, say, drugs, or sex. I know personally that I often make trades simply to "get high". I experience the thrill, the rush, the excitement, and all of the corollary feelings that a compulsive gambler experiences in that entranced moment of anticipating a big score.

    I know I have an addictive personality, to say the least, and to overcome this addiction alone is overwhelmingly difficult. I have seen glimpses of what the results look like when I don't overtrade. It is usually good money on very few shares traded. The opposite of addictive trading, to me, is practicing patience. Patience is all it really takes.

    At Gamblers' Anonymous, they teach each other to avoid all situations in which they might be lured into gambling. Never enter a casino, don't play any card games, don't go near a racetrack or OTB; stay away at all costs! This avoidance of trigger situations means that they are less likely to relapse if they are nowhere near a machine that promises large payoffs for very little work. There is no temptation when you are absent from this environment.

    To the daytrader, of course, this strategy only works when the market is dead, which is most of the day. The rest of the time, the trader has to make himself available to opportunities that come and go in a matter of seconds.

    To the trader who is really an addict, then, he must practice patience, over, and over, and over. Just as many traders "slip" and lose discipline, someone at risk of overtrading may slip, or more appropriately, "relapse", and lose patience, and trade for psychological reasons -- to gamble for a living. This is very dangerous territory, and to anyone who feels the need to trade compulsively, an extraordinary level of practice withholding and resisting these impulses is required, if he is ever to have just the slightest chance of making a career.
  2. drcha


    The treatment is really something more like Weight Watchers than Gamblers Anonymous. The overweight person can't avoid all food, so it is necessary for him to change his relationship with food.

    The forever fat person looks at a slice of chocolate cake and sees pleasure and escapism. The newly thin person looks at the same slice of cake and sees the fat ass he used to have, the one he does not want to have back again, and then he grabs an apple instead.

    The essential ingredient is belief in reality. The fat person who keeps eating the cake has separated himself from reality. The cake will not bring joy, love, etc, only more pain, but he continues to live as if this fact were not true. The thin person who used to be fat has come to terms with the truth. He has a very clear picture of reality:

    Cake=look fat.
    Apple=look attractive.

    How does the still-fat person get himself to believe that? I don't know the answer. If I did I'd be a zillionaire and would not need to get up at 6:30 am each day and trade. But my first thought is, instead of trying not to eat at all, find yourself an apple. When you know your trade is not the best set up, go ahead, but trade very, very small. You can still get excited about it. You can still be in the game, but not with a lot of skin.
  3. Vingt-cinq Trente-huit, who among us has not experienced what you described so eloquently? Who has not wrestled Shaitan, or been tempted by Mara? I say to you there is but one strength in that war. It is not virtue. It is not abstinence. It is not avoidance. It is not patience. It is not faith. It IS a fucking backtested system!
  4. NoDoji


    I've an idea: You trade for the highs, then send me your weekly profits and I will then obtain for you...

    That way, you get high every week without being bothered by those pesky profits!
  5. drcha, your post is spot-on, and extremely helpful. Using the Weight Watcher's analogy is much more powerful than thinking in terms of the Gamblers Anonymous, all-or-nothing approach.

    Coming to terms with reality is something that every recovered addict has had to experience. Don't underestimate the power of delusion to convince the still-fat person that eating cake makes him truly happy. Deluding ourselves, telling ourselves that reality is not what it is, that we should hang onto hopes, ineffective beliefs -- people use a million different tactics to hide from and distort reality. After all, living in a world of your own making can feel much more comfortable than facing the hard cold facts of our world -- and reality can be quite brutal.

    I think to the real addict, reality doesn't even matter, because the reptilian brain is calling all the shots, satisfying some basic drives to feel pleasure, no matter what the long-term damage may be. Developing the right relationship with the markets, and/or the activity of trading, is definitely of primary importance. Awareness of the reasons for making trades is also of large importance.

    The best, most profitable system in the world means absolutely nothing if the person executing it doesn't have the discipline to follow the system. Thus, strategy/methodology, is irrelevant in the way I am thinking about this subject of "addiction to the highs of trading".