Your Money or Your Life? Psychotic Implications of the Pension Fund System: Towards a Socio-Analysis of the Financial Services

Journal Article or Monograph

Title: Your Money or Your Life? Psychotic Implications of the Pension Fund System: Towards a Socio-Analysis of the Financial Services
Year: 2003
Authors: Sievers, B.

The present Anglo-American pension funds system is based on
totally different images of man, society, and social relatedness than
the traditional social security systems and retirement schemes
characteristic of welfare states in many European countries. This
article is guided by the working hypothesis that the pension fund
system, because of its inherent defenses against persecutory and
depressive anxieties, is based on psychotic dynamics. Participation
in the pension fund system encourages a psychotic dynamic; the
expected pension after retirement is seen to protect one from a
‘miserable’ way of life, from deprivation, from annihilation and
feelings of dependency, gratitude, love, and guilt. As people increasingly
strive for an affluent retirement, commoditized money
nurtures the illusion that the more money one accumulates the
more certain death will be kept away. It further will be argued that
the psychotic dynamic inherent in the pension funds system is not
limited to those who invest in the funds, but further finds an expression
or ‘resonance’ in the organizations that manage the funds and
their respective role holders. Money paid into a pension scheme
serves – in addition to its ‘pecuniary’ function – as a ‘conductor’ of
psychotic anxieties. As a consequence, pension funds have become
the main players in a kind of global marshalling yard where underlying
anxieties are transferred and shifted in various ways. Loaded
with their customers’ expectations and anxieties about adequate
pensions after retirement, pension fund organizations tend to
maintain and spread a globalized collusion of psychotic thinking.

Keywords: Money, financial service revolution, pension funds, socioanalysis, social defense, psychosis, psychotic thinking
Language: English

Journal: Human Relations
Volume: 26
Issue: 2
Start page: 187
End page: 210
Publisher ID:

Submitted by:
Burkard Sievers

Corresponding author:

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