Multiphrenia

I had mentioned that I was re-reading one of my favorite authors/books this week, Kenneth Gergen’s “The Saturated Self-Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary life.” I first read this book back in graduate school over a decade ago and the internet was all the rage as the dot com bubble was about to burst. A medium such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn weren’t even around and trading, for the most part, was still done by picking up a phone and contacting your broker.

Gergen talks about the concept of a saturated self wherein one is increasingly engaged in relationships—real, virtual, and even imagined. When you think about all the distractions we each face in today’s world, he was way ahead of the curve here. One of the terms Gergen coined is Multiphrenia: The condition, largely attributed to technologies that increase social contact, of being simultaneously drawn in multiple and conflicting directions. I’ve dealt with traders who get caught in such a trap and their trading suffers as a result.

My suggestion was always the same—unplug. Have you ever had difficulty with a piece of electronic equipment, called tech support and they say something like “unplug the power source for 30 seconds” and voila! the issue has fixed itself? Amazing, I know, but how do you unplug from trading?

  • Take a break and walk away from the computer
  • Turn off the TV
  • Stop reading blogs and books about trading
  • Turn off Twitter
  • Go exercise

When you come back and sit down at your trading desk odds are good that a fresh prospective has been gained. Oftentimes we as traders rely on too much “stuff” when it might be best to revert back to the basics. If you’re still in a fog, then perhaps an extended break of a day or more is needed.

As a follow-up to the break I like to remove all the noise from a price chart and just focus on the price action alone, nothing else. Regaining objectivity by removing the deluge of noise that can so easily enter our lives is not easy. In fact, much like an addict, withdrawals can and do occur. If that is the case for you then I’d suggest some self-journaling to better understand why that “need” exists.