Prop Trading Futures

Compulsive Trading

Trading is known for its powerful psychological elements. Being aware that emotions are always right on your doorstep is the first step to build a sustainable trading business… or build a different business! In a previous post I wrote about trading and gambling issues. That article got some interest and I had a few people that wrote me to share their experiences.

This week, doing some research on my own for a new blog post (intended to address how daily life stresses impact on trading performances) I came across an interview by Van K Tharp with a member of Gambler’s Anonymus. Since compulsive trading is a topic that is often ignored by the media and in the blogosphere, I decided to spend a few more words on it.

The interview was conducted in 1976, way before the electronic trading platforms were introduced. I guess that the technological progress in the last 20 years made things worst for whom suffering from these issues.

“Gambler’s Anonymous recognized that, for a compulsive gambler,  stocks and options and commodities are definitely gambling. It is surprising how many people we get  coming to G.A. lately whose only gambling activity is commodities or options trading Gambler’s Anonymous recognized that, for a compulsive gambler, stocks and options and commodities are definitely gambling.”

Then he continues:

For a while I was doing a lot of traveling, but following my stocks became an obsession for me. I
remember days that I couldn’t get to the brokerage house before it closed, and I didn’t want to call my
broker at home [this happened back in the 1976]. I would wait in front of the Hilton until the Times came out at about 2 o’clock in the morning, so that I could see how I did in the market. It was total action for me.

I’m a firm believer that it is important to understand that one doesn’t have to Superman to learn better ways to handle emotions and I would discourage anybody to identify himself of herself as “a compulsive trader”. Such label induce a sense of helplessness and passiveness: after all you are an addict, it’s only natural to behave like one. Instead of seeing his or her condition like that, one shall believe in his or her intelligence and ability to overcome the obstacles encounter in life.

But, if you suffer because of behaviors such as the one highlighted above or here a psychotherapist may be your best choice. Not only he or she can help you to preserve your money, but in case of damaging behaviors to get support is probably the fastest and secure way to get back on track.

Some books worth reading on the topics of gambling, compulsive behaviors and trading: