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

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Title: Your Money or Your Life?'¨Psychotic Implications of the Pension Fund System: '¨Towards a Socio-Analysis of the Financial Services
Year: 2001
Authors: Sievers, B.
Abstract:

The present Anglo-American pension fund 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 paper 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. From a psycho-dynamic or socio-analytic point of view, it can be assumed that the pension fund system thus requires a high amount of anxiety management, most of which presumably is accomplished through individual and social defenses. Participating in the pension fund system encourages a psychotic dynamic; one expects the expected pension to protect one against a ‘miserable’ way of life, privation, and annihilation through death and feelings of dependency, gratitude, love or guilt. As people increasingly strive for a retirement in affluence, 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 fund 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. Investors, in addition to transferring their money, also transfer part of their anxieties to the pension funds. Money paid into a pension scheme serves – in addition to its ‘pecuniary’ function – as a ‘conductor' of psychotic anxieties.

It can be assumed that pension fund corporations cannot sufficiently contain these psychotic anxieties and dynamics, and that they transfer the psychotic dynamic into the corporations whose shares they own. To the extent that the thinking in pension fund organizations is of a psychotic kind, the only important reality of those corporations, whose shares they own, is a financial one. As a consequence, pension funds have become the main players in a kind of global marshalling yard in which 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.
What he realised, and more clearly as time went on, was that money worship has been elevated into a religion. Perhaps it is the only real religion – the only really felt religion – that is left to us. Money is what God used to be. Good and evil have no meaning any longer except failure and success. Hence the profoundly significant phrase, to make good.
—George Orwell (1956, 43)


Keywords: Money, Pension Fund System, Socio-Analysis, Financial Services Revolution
Language: English


Date: 6/15/2001
Location: Paris, France
Name of Event/Conference: 18th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations
Sponsoring Organization: ISPSO

Submitted by:
Elizabeth Novogratz

Corresponding author:

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