What do, For Love of Money and For Love and Money have in common?

In the January 18, 2014, New York Times, Sam Polk penned a gold-plated opinion piece to describe the gluttonous rabbit-hole of money addiction.

I began my business career in the early 1980s trading physical commodities for what was at the time, the world’s largest commodity trading power house. That career in commodities eventually led me to other bastions of Wall Street where I began to trade high-yield bonds (also known as junk bonds due to their less-than investment grade status), and later to the floor of the New York Commodity exchanges where I traded commodity options. The world of floor trading gave new meaning to the word intensity —adrenaline, sex, drugs, addictions of all sorts and of course, money and power. Traders are, by their nature, self-indulgent and prone to excess, and if excess and intensity were good, then more excess and intensity is better.

I am a business woman turned author, speaker and licensed therapist. Nowadays I work with individuals and couples in therapy, which is nothing less than invigorating and stimulating. After a prosperous and exhilarating run in the junk bond and the commodity option markets my fascination with narcissism, power and control is no less intense. Addicts of all types who are in the throes of their addiction often exploit with sex and money, regardless of their level of wealth or income, and they don’t have to be psychopaths or even innately narcissistic to do so. Addicts may go into debt in order to sustain their level of addiction, a level of lavish spending or impression management. They certainly do so as it pertains to sexual access. That said most addicts and most people who play in these arenas also display the main characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

What do Sam Polk’s For Love of Money and Debra Kaplan’s For Love and Money: Exploring Sexual and Financial Betrayal in Relationships, have in common?

Everything and then again, nothing. More apt, For Love of Money ends where For Love and Money (FLAM) begins. FLAM delivers an unparalleled and cutting-edge perspective about sexual, financial and relational exploitation from Wall Street to Main Street; boardroom to bedroom. It is a ground breaking read that delves beyond the searing cross-hairs of sexual and financial betrayal by virtue of money addiction and infidelity. Much has been written about money (not the least of who is the brilliant Michael Lewis) and much has been written about sex, but very little has been written about the ways in which money and sex often intersect to create destructive power and control in relationships. Sam Polk’s piece ends on this note:

“I generally think that if one is rich and believes they have “enough,” they are not a wealth addict. On Wall Street, in my experience, that sense of “enough” is rare. The money guy doing a job he complains about for yet another year so he can add $2 million to his $20 million bank account seems like an addict.

I recently got an email from a hedge-fund trader who said that though he was making millions every year, he felt trapped and empty, but couldn’t summon the courage to leave. I believe there are others out there. Maybe we can form a group and confront our addiction together. And if you identify with what I’ve written, but are reticent to leave, then take a small step in the right direction. Let’s create a fund, where everyone agrees to put, say, 25 percent of their annual bonuses into it, and we’ll use that to help some of the people who actually need the money that we’ve been so rabidly chasing. Together, maybe we can make a real contribution to the world.”

Instead, Sam Polk, I think a better idea would be to call me. I have a few thoughts I could share!