Monday, February 02, 2009

Slouching towards… destination unknown

Ever wonder what happens when it’s the investment bankers and real estate moguls who go postal and not the low-wage worker in the mail distribution center?

This NYT article describes some of the psychic dislocations being experienced by some members of the upper and upper-middle classes in the NY metro area as the economy in general and Wall Street and real estate in particular crap out. It successfully manages to trigger both contempt and compassion. Contempt because the people profiled are very unlikely to go without food, shelter, or healthcare; compassion because anxiety, depression, psychosis, and suicidal ideation are terrifying things to experience.
[Dr.] Paula Eagle, an associate professor at Columbia University, said that investment bankers in her private therapy practice, suffering from paranoia, have described mordant-humor fantasies circulating among their colleagues that the collapse of the financial markets would lead to New York City going broke and martial law being declared.

“They were going to buy guns and rafts and float down the Hudson River,” Dr. Eagle said. “It stirred up a lot of 9/11 kinds of feelings — this is disaster time and we have to be prepared to run for cover.”
I wonder what bin Laden's take on this would be.

One Manhattan real estate investor, diagnosed with major depression, generalized anxiety, and psychotic features, had convinced himself that Pakistan would annihilate the world with a nuclear bomb (interesting choice since nuclear annihilation automatically resets everyone’s account balance to zero). Maybe it was the psychotherapy, maybe it was the drugs, or maybe it was that one last big sale, which got his finances back in order, but he no longer thinks nuclear armageddon is at hand.

Said the newly non-psychotic investor: “I’ve been through recessions before… [b]ut this was nuts.”

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