Blog, Psychological Analysis

Intro To Greed

Emotions are a very powerful force that nearly every trader/investor learns to deal with as they grow. This is a general overview to Greed. The other powerful emotion is Fear which will be covered under other articles in the Psychological Analysis section of this site.

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GREED is one of 7 basic character flaws or “dark” personality traits. We all have the potential for greedy tendencies, but in people with a strong fear of lack or deprivation, Greed can become a dominant pattern.

What is greed?

Greed is the tendency to selfish craving, grasping and hoarding. It is defined as:

A selfish or excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved, especially of money, wealth, food, or other possessions [1]

Other names for greed include avaricecovetousness and cupidity.
Greed is generally considered a vice, and is one of the seven deadly sins in Catholicism and is (considered a sin of some sort in every major religion)—a greedy person is one who values material acquisitions and possessions more than God.
Less judgementally, but in the same ballpark, Buddhists regard craving as a hindrance to enlightenment. Craving is a delusional state of seeking happiness through acquiring material things.
As with the opposite chief feature of self-destruction, greed is a faulty approach to life. The person with greed is driven by a fundamental sense of deprivation, of something lacking within, and becomes fixated on seeking comfort by getting the one thing that will eliminate that feeling.
That one thing could be money, power, sex, food, attention, knowledge … just about anything. But it will be the one thing on which their entire greed complex is fixated. The greedy person’s basic strategy is to dedicate himself or herself to acquiring as much as possible of that thing.

Components of greed

Like all chief features, greed involves the following components:

  1. Early negative experiences
  2. Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  5. A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood

Early Negative Experiences

In the case of greed, the early negative experiences typically consist of insufficient or inadequate nurturing in early childhood.
The situations causing such experiences could be natural and unavoidable, such as the death of a parent or living in a time of famine. Alternatively, the situation could be deliberately imposed on the child, such as willful neglect. Another example would be a mother who is too off her head on drugs to look after her child.
Whatever the circumstances, the effect on the child is a sense of deprivation, of never having enough.
All infants are born with a natural desire for love, nurture, care, attention and interaction. In some cases, however, the source of such things—notably the caregiver—may be absent or unavailable. Perhaps not all of the time, but enough for the infant to experience the lack. Enough for the child to become terrified of never getting enough of what he or she needs.
Another factor in the origin of greed is the availability of substitutes. Perhaps the parent, out of guilt, perhaps, repeatedly provides gifts in the form of money, toys, chocolate, TV. In effect, the parent says “You cannot have me but you can have this instead.” Ultimately, the substitute is always inadequate. No amount of TV can make up for lack of human contact. No amount of chocolate can make up for lack of genuine love. But the child learns to make do with whatever is available.


From such experiences of deprivation and lack, the child comes to perceive life as being unreliable and limited, but containing the missing ingredient for happiness:

My well-being depends on me getting all that I desire.
I cannot truly be myself, a whole person, until I get what has always been missing.
Life is limited. There isn’t enough for everyone. I miss out because other people are taking my share, getting what is rightfully mine.
Once I have it all, I will never lack anything ever again.

Over time, the growing child might also become cynical about what life has to offer:

All I ever get are unsatisfactory substitutes.
I cannot trust anyone to give me what I need.
If I am given a gift, there must be something wrong with it.
Everything falls short of my requirements.

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