The Psychopathology of Everyday Trading

Discussion in 'Psychology' started by Duref Mudgins, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. A.A. Brill wrote in the introduction to his English translation of the inspiration for this thread:

    "...Professor Freud found how faint the line of demarcation was between the normal and neurotic person, and that the psychopathologic mechanisms so glaringly observed in the psychoneuroses and psychoses could usually be demonstrated in a lesser degree in normal persons."

    The modest goal of this thread is to persuade ET that in trading, as in living, "the hitherto considered impassable gap between normal and abnormal mental states is more apparent than real", wherein for "mental" we substitute "trading."
  2. I trust that I do not digress. The central theme running through that seminal work was "forgetting." May I be so bold as to associate with that Gurdjieff's concept of "forgetting oneself", as amplified upon by Ouspensky? It does seem to me that there is much "forgetting" here in the inside world of fantasy trading, as well as in outside world of real trading.
  3. An intriguing notion. I come to ET lately only to read my favorite long running thread in Strategy Trading, wherein we recently saw the slow and painful unravelling of a persona. A (presumably young) person opined most assuredly in his inaugural postings about trading in general and his own prowess in particular, only to reveal months later than he in fact had no trading account, nor geld to fund one, was "trading" only in simulation, and felt that he traded all the better for it. Most assuredly, he had "forgotten" himself, whether mendaciously or neurotically, one can only surmise.
  4. You will recall that Freud's first chapter was entitled (in translation) "Forgetting of Proper Names." I offer that there is a great on-line psychological divide between using one's "proper" name, as does the the estimable Mr. Bright, and the run-of-the-mill poster who unconsciously selects a psychologically damning alias for himself. (I shall refrain from offering up obvious and disturbing examples so as not to inflame the already incendiary populace here.) I submit that it is easier to "forget oneself" when one has become dissociated by the frequent and persistent use of an alias or aliases. How can such a personality hope to be so integral as to trade well?
  5. In fact I intended to discuss forgettings of a more prosaic nature such as forgetting whether one is long or short, what issue one has a position in, that indeed one is in a position at all, that the end of the daily session is about to take you into increased margin requirements, that the blue button does not mean sell, and the like. But by all means carry on. This line of inquiry fascinates me.
  6. I have been trading it seems for several lifetimes, certainly longer than most posters here have been alive, and I would like to point out that forgetfulness has a hidden self-destructive nature to it. Let me add to your list:

    forgetting your trade rules

    forgetting not to trade impulsively

    forgetting your stop-loss

    forgetting your daily-renewed vow not to be distracted by ET during RMH

    forgetting which times of day offer the best opportunities for profit

    forgetting not to brag to your spouse about what a hot trade you are in.

    So I must agree that "forgetting" is a root cause of poor trading. From the perspective of my generation, forgetting one's manners on ET is the most frightful lapse of all.
  7. The key word in that first chapter title is "proper". The improprietous poster also not improbably is an impropitious trader. Such a prattling prating preening poster would never ask a crowd at a metro stop to bestow on him a handsome lifetime annuity. Yet the very same fool will broadcat on ET a piteous plea for the public revelation of a stable profitable trading system. That is indeed "forgetting", and tempts me to segue into Freudian wish fulfillment, which temptation I shall properly resist.
  8. I am obliged to add to the list of grievous memory lapses the poster who pontificates about his trading acumen, failing to mention until months or even years later that he barely breaks even or runs a small loss. While his persistence is to be applauded, his perspicacity is not. This underlines Freud's assertion that there is little gap between normalcy and neurosis. Many's the time I have been fooled into thinking a poster knew whereof he spake by his vocabulary, good grammar, seeming rationality, and eloquent theoretical constructs which he misrepresented as actual trading experience.
  9. This is the burden I bear and, with increasing frequency, is the bane of my (trading) existence. I will admit that, from time to time, ET members have been helpful to me, particularly in the areas of hardware and software, and even brokerage services a few years back. However, the law of diminishing returns is well entrenched. I find that the more time I spend loitering in the halls of ET, the more likely I am to either miscalculate a setup or miss it entirely. If I traded several times throughout the day, such digressions could be easily absorbed. However, and particularly lately, the market has been offering me only 1 to 3 good setups per day at best. Troubling. All the more so because I often spend time reading fairly boneheaded posts. There are intelligent and thought-provoking ones to be sure, but they are far and few between.

    I note, with interest, that all of the posters to this thread thus far have registered at ET within a few months of each other. I wonder if perhaps the inestimable Hypostomus (or any other members of the august panel thus far) would care to weigh in and comment on this serendipitous phenomenon, and whether he (they) may provide some much needed counsel regarding my unresolved ET issues.
  10. My intention in starting this thread was far from ET-bashing. It was rather in the spirit of 18th century morality fables gently to point out "There but for the grace of God go I." Having voyeuristically observed ET for so long, one senses a subtle but encouraging increase in foolishness which bodes well for the markets. I merely intend to put this shift into classical psychological perspective.
    #10     Jan 28, 2006