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

“The financial turmoil of 2008 (was) preceded by an incubation period lasting for over two decades during which a culture of mania developed .. a culture comprised of denial; omnipotence; triumphalism; and over-activity.


Prof Mark Stein, Chair in Leadership and Management, School of Management, University of Leicester
Organization, 18(2) 173–186

“The financial turmoil of 2008 constituted a crisis of significant proportions, the shock-waves of which we have yet fully to witness. … Whatever tentative signs of recovery we may see, we should not be deluded into thinking that the problem is now – or will shortly be – over.”

The author explores “the broader cultural changes that created the conditions for the credit crisis of 2008.

“Drawing on psychoanalysis and its application to organizational and social dynamics, I develop a theoretical framework around the notion of a manic culture, comprised of four aspects: denial; omnipotence; triumphalism; and over-activity. I then apply this to the credit crisis and argue that the events of 2008 were preceded by an incubation period lasting for over two decades during which a culture of mania developed.

“Then, focusing especially on the Japanese and South East Asia/LTCM crises, I argue that a series of major ruptures in capitalism during this incubation period served not as warnings, but as opportunities for a manic response, thereby dramatically increasing the risks involved.

“I also argue that this mania was triggered and strengthened by triumphant feelings in the West over the collapse of communism. I suggest therefore that this manic culture played a significant role in creating the conditions for the problems that led to the credit crisis.”

Access the full paper here: A culture of mania

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