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Falling markets are an occasion for re-evaluating goals

October 13, 2008

As the markets tumble more and more people who work in the financial industry are feeling not only anxiety but also genuine hurt and disillusionment that the industry that they have poured their energy into and based their lives upon, has turned out to be so insubstantial and hollow. This crisis is for many an “emperor’s new clothes” moment – a sudden realisation that the ambitions and obligations that kept them at their desks at all hours are figments of a collective illusion which is now dissipating. What is left? The banal answer that offers more comfort than any bail-out package – family, friends, time spent on pursuits that draw on the riches of imagination.

Oct. 12–As the fi nancial crisis rocks Wall Street, executives and traders there are being rocked as well, with some turning to alcohol and drugs and others just walking away from the profession and even from New York, a psychologist who treats them said.

“They are extremely stressed and what’s fascinating is some of them are hurt,” said Dr. Harris Stratyner, regional vice president for the New York Recovery Center of Caron Treatment Centers, the addiction-treatment agency based near Wernersville.

Stratyner, an associate professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, counts among his patients traders, executives and founding partners of some of the biggest Wall Street fi rms.

“They’re saying to themselves, ‘We started all of these things and we were always held in high esteem and now everyone is talking about us like we’re a joke,'” he said.

“Some of the younger ones are using drugs and alcohol,” he said. “Cocaine and alcohol are starting to raise their heads again, marijuana as well.

“Some are looking at changing their life around, cutting their losses and moving to other areas. One man I know always wanted to be a chef and he is looking at moving away and opening a diner. A lot of them — in the work they are doing with me — are looking at the reality of their lives and what life is all about.”

The stress on Wall Street is much the same as the stress around the rest of the country, where 80 percent of Americans say the economy is a signifi — cant cause of stress, up from 66 percent in April, according to a study released last week by the American Psychological Association.

The study said people are more irritable and angry and are more likely to feel fatigue, have headaches and drink alcohol.

“People’s emotional and physical health is more vulnerable, given the high levels of stress in our country right now,” said Dr. Katherine Nordal, the association’s executive director.

She recommended not paying attention to what she calls doom-and-gloom hype.

People stressed about the economy can spend time with their children, attend church and share meals with family, Stratyner recommended.

Stratyner, 53, said he’s lost invested money lately, too, but he’s not stressed about it.

“I really do stop in the morning, take a deep breath and look at the chipmunks and see the trees changing colors and say to myself things like, ‘This is reminiscent of Halloween when I was 9 years old,'” he said. “Just take it one day at a time.”

via | Market fall takes a toll on traders


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