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General News    H1'ed 5/19/11

The Wall Street Sex Complex and the case of Strauss Kahn

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Wall Street's fall is said to have brought down the sex industry almost as if it had been a fully owned subsidiary, if not an extension, of the financial services business.

To find out more, I spoke to Jonathan Albert, a psychologist practicing in mid-Manhattan.

He told me, "I see a lot of clients in NYC who are impacted by the economic crisis. People deal with stress in many different ways. Some people exercise, some people over-eat, some use drugs and alcohol, some even sexualize those feelings. 

"Sexualize?" I asked him, how do they sexualize these feelings?

His response, "I've seen a lot of Wall Streeters who sexualize feelings of anxiety and stress and depression. So for example they might rely on adult sexual services to deal with those feelings."

Loretta Napoleoni, an Italian author, who worked on Wall Street for years, offers a provocative thesis for how the need for paid sex "on the wild side" became part of the culture of irresponsibility.

 "I can tell you that this is absolutely true because being a woman, having worked in finance 20 years ago I could tell you that even at that time – when the market was not going up so much – these guys, all they talk is sex."

 

She complemented her personal experience by citing a study by researchers from Oxford University.

"The study discovered, that an excessive production of testosterone, in a period of fantastic financial exuberance, creates a sort of confusion. It is what people in sports call 'being in the zone,' which means you get in a certain situation where you feel that you will always win. That you are infallible."

I asked Dr. Albert if that finding may have indeed had relevance to Spitzer or be endemic in the industry? His reply, "I do see this a lot in the finance industry, yes. People in positions of power often feel as if they can perhaps get away with it. There is sometimes a sense of entitlement."

"They feel entitled to take part in risky behavior?" I pressed. 

"High-risk behavior. It's similar to what they do on a daily basis. They invest millions and millions of dollars and there is a great risk involved with that. The same is true with using the services of a prostitute. Obviously there are great health risks; their relationship is in great danger if they are using the services of a prostitute.

"A lot of people skate on the excitement, on that euphoric rush."

The culture of risk on Wall Street was intoxicating to many in the same way that gamblers become addicted or report a rush when they are winning.

The euphoria of life in the fast lane often implodes when one's luck runs out leading to depression and family breakups. One remedy is going to self-help groups like "The 'Wall Street Wives Club' formed to empower and serve the needs of wives and girlfriends whose husbands or significant others work in the stressful and volatile brokerage community.

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at Amazon.com. See Newsdisssector.org/store.htm.
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