Take a testosterone pill and call me in the morning. If you still feel weak and defeated, the prescription will be repeated. I may even add a shot of courage and confidence—just for good measure!
We have had enough bad news over the past year and a half to send the majority of market participants running for their bomb shelters, buying guns, hiding dollars under their mattresses and just plain giving up. I think we have had just about enough negative news to drive even the most optimistic among us into a state of dysphoria at best and major depression with psychosis at worst.
We know that the mantra of the media is “If it bleeds, it leads.” Fear is a powerful message because it hits directly into the primitive centers of the brain---the rat brain. The messages of fear and the reaction of fight or flight served the Neanderthal man well and kept him from the dangers of wild beasts and the threats from neighboring tribes. In those days of old, it was a survival mechanism to protect the body from physical harm.
The brain is little unchanged from that of the Neanderthal, but fear has taken on a new configuration. We no longer fear attack from a wild beast, but we have become a nation paralyzed with fear. How could it not be so when the news has been incessantly hideous for the past 18 months? It is possible that, at some level, we have become addicted to fear. The more we get, the more we demand and the media is most happy to oblige.
This is not the United States that was borne from the strength and courage of free, entrepreneurial spirit. This is a country that has become emasculated by fear. Bill Gross wrote yesterday that “ Animal spirits, and with them the entrepreneurial dynamism of risk-taking has likely experienced a body blow.
Not only have dancers on the financed-based dance floor been shown the exit à la Chuck Prince, but those that remain have been publicly chastened and handcuffed. Golden parachutes, options, executive compensation and bonuses themselves are now at risk. Care to climb to the throne of this new world? Well, yes, egos will always dominate, but the rules will be changed and hormone levels lowered.”
- November Layoffs Hit Highest Level in 7 Years
With every due respect to Mr. Gross who has been fabulously successful, I believe that we need more testosterone, more courage, more entrepreneurial activity and more hope. Short of this, we will become a nation of ostriches and the new predators will not be wild beasts roaming the pampas—rather vultures who will descend and devour us to the bone. The lessons of The Big Rollover are powerful in that they teach survival in any situation. They teach us that life is never about what happens to us, rather it is about who we are and what we do with what happens to us.
It’s time to learn valuable lessons from these historical times. It is time to steel ourselves and make ourselves stronger so that we can and will endure anything and everything that comes to us. It is time to replace fear with its opposite—faith.
Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D., is a financial psychiatrist and chief global risk strategist for Ingenieux Wealth Management in Sydney, Australia. She also offer trading consulting and coaching services via her Web site, TheTradingDoctor.com.