Melanie Klein & the 2008 Credit Crisis

July 5, 2012

Was recently forwarded this paper by a colleague. It is a fascinating read about the 2008 credit crisis which examines Klein’s formulation of manic defences and applies this to the broader corporate and government culture in the lead up to the events of 2008. Melanie Klein is known for her contributions to children psychiatry, in particular play therapy, object-relations theory, as well as her feuds with Anna Freud in the 1930s (Sigmund’s daughter and another prominent child psychotherapist).

A culture of mania: a psychoanalytic view of the incubation of the 2008 credit crisis (Stein, 2011)

“There are two contributions to theory. First, working with ideas from psychoanalysis and its application to social and organizational dynamics, the theoretical framework of a ‘culture of mania’ is formulated and developed. This culture is specified in terms of the four characteristics of denial, omnipotence, triumphalism and over-activity. Second, also drawing on psychoanalytic ideas, this article contributes a new notion of denial to the literature. While denial is usually taken to refer to the overlooking or ignoring of vulnerabilities and problems, the idea of ‘manic denial’ developed in this article refers to the concept that warning signs are indeed noted and observed, but that they serve not as warnings but as provocations to act manically in taking on more extreme risks.”

The full paper is available here, and well worth a look.

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