Can you Intellectualize Emotions

Before discussing the subject line, I just wanted to update you on the performance of the Sefirot Freestyle Fund. I remain very satisfied with the progress to date, and the fact that we are not making money in the current environment doesn’t bother me in the least. It does however confirm to me that managing a fund with other peoples money using my style is an exercise in masochism in the extreme.



Yesterday in therapy I was discussing a lucid dream/feeling that has come and gone for the last 10yrs with my Jungian analyst. I raised the image/feeling not knowing exactly where it was coming from and its meaning. Dr Andre being the expert he is helped me connect the dots.

I have been intellectualizing a particular relationship lately and have repeatedly admitted that it doesn’t bother me because I know its for the best. In fact I have been quite proud of myself for being able to rise above the situation and do the “right thing”. However, this is where things get interesting as I have been experiencing these lucid image and emotional flashes and couldn’t see that in fact my unconscious was telling me that no matter how much I intellectualize the experience the emotions are real and need to be felt. If you ignore these repressed unconscious emotions then they will erupt to the surface as a complex.

I feel a million times better that I have zoned in on these feelings and now that I am acknowledging them I am feeling more centered.

This insight is equally applicable to the markets. There is no way to ignore the emotions driving the markets the primary emotions of fear and greed need to be “felt”. However, the world we live in today with news coming from every angle and mavens in their thousands writing on blogs (just like me) trying to explain each and every new data piece and its significance, are doing the markets in their genius a disservice. The market and her participants need to feel! We intellectualize emotions at our peril with market complex eruptions the likely result.

Take a step back from the markets and look at what possible emotional message could be communicated to you. If you do and experience the balance of intellect and emotion then you are likely to be in a much happier safer place.


Who Needs Sleep with a Python

Last week we celebrated the jewish festival of Shavuot where the custom is to learn ancient jewish text through the night (tikkun leil). For the last many years I usually flake out around and feel to soft to push harder out of fear of the grump I am likely to be around the family the next day.

This year was different I was on fire, my concentration was razor sharp and I felt light and engaged throughout the long night and due to the winter in the southern hemisphere we could only begin the morning service around sunrise 6:15am. In short (actually it was quite long) it was a great night.

Over the last week I have also rekindled my interest in learning a programming language. I have had many failed starts with C# but have a fairly decent beginners knowledge in R. I am not sure exactly where this interest has come from but I want to learn a more general purpose language that will be strong in the quant space but equally strong in web and other programming tasks. I have decided on Python an excellent open source language that all who use it say its syntax is the most intuitive of the languages and its power is awesome.

There is a reason why I juxtapose this latest interest with my “tikkun leil” evening over Shavuot. The human mind is so incredibly powerful that it is able to overcome (push aside) many physical necessities, at least for a period of time. I have become so engrossed with my Python learning curve that I have hardly slept the last week or so. I am so enthused and keen to learn, that sleep is not something that is coming into the equation too often.

So what is my point? It is really simple, when you are focused and inspired many needs (often superfluous needs) that may seem insatiable when your mind has spare capacity tend to not get the energy to have the same negative influence over your life. Of course there is the risk of becoming too one sided and losing your equilibrium, but the point I am making is that having an interest, a passion, a goal is so important in life as it serves to keep the minds “spare capacity” occupied and less likely to get up to mischief.


No Interest

I so despise the current markets where risk takers are being rewarded with puny returns relative to the HUGE risk they are taking, yet the common wisdom is that the risks are actually very small when central banks have your back.

I have never deleted as many macro market commentaries from my inbox, even the newspaper and my favourite blog sites cannot shake the malaise and contempt I feel for the markets and her participants.

I have been here before (a couple of times) and I know how quickly the inspiration and passion will return when I see/feel some sort of equilibrium return. I have no interest in changing the fabric of the tapestry I have designed as my capital world view.

I am a contrarian with a highly activated warrior archetype force-field. I write this feeling proud of this “affliction” but caution myself not to become too identified with such a polarizing force as it can be highly destabilizing.

Suffering has made me more connected

It dawned on me yesterday while talking things through with my guru that the suffering I have been going through the last few months has made me more connected to my creator.

No parent should see their child suffer, for me and my family the last 8 months has been a terribly painful experience that at times has felt like a never ending nightmare. To add to that I have encountered extreme volatility on the job front, with my income being sporadic to say the least.

However with all this negativity and dare I say it “suffering” I have consciously experienced and felt emotions on a very deep positive level; this is where Jung’s uniting of opposite’s plays an interesting role. By exploring my pain I have actually become more connected to its source and while the pain is still their I am able feel a deep level of acceptance at the same time.

When one is cruising through life and things are going swimmingly it is very hard to experience things on a deep level. Laughter, fun and frivolity are superficial experiences, there is nothing wrong with this, but it is very hard to grow in such an atmosphere.

On that philosophical note, I am more than happy for all the suffering to stop 🙂

Ego Attachment to what we Read

I just picked up a book for my 15yr old daughter from the library. I needed some help from the librarian and then as I was leaving I said to her, “I have to tell you the book isn’t for me but my daughter”. Why did I say that, why was I worried that she would judge me for reading this genre of book?

The book was a fantasy book called Allegiant by Veronica Roth, hardly something to be embarrassed about? On some further reflection I always bring a book from my considerable library to the synagogue to help pass “slow” phases (what can I do, I love to read), and I always place the cover of my books face down so that others passing by don’t get to see the title of what I am reading.

My choice of books is certainly not in the mainstream and is of a very esoteric nature in many instances, which I guess makes me a little self-conscious. I don’t necessarily want to be associated as that loopy mystical guy, yet in many instances it is something I strive for.

Coming back to why I needed to say to the librarian that book is for my daughter; I think the books we read are a window into our soul, and strangely I was worried about what a women who I have never seen before might think about me. At this stage I have no fitting answers, to why I care.

I do however feel that what we read is a very important insight into who we are as a person. I only hope that I have a different view of judging a person by the TV they watch. While writing the above in a “free association” mindset I realize I think I have answered my own question within a Jungian persona point of view.

Like the persona we share with the world in terms of our personality such as extroversion or introversion, we are doing the same with the books we read and the TV we watch. If for instance most of the books I read are academic in nature then I am probably projecting an intellectual persona to the world. Therefore when I checked Allegiant out I suddenly felt a tension between the persona I project and this caused me enough discomfort/embarrassment/insecurity to try and justify it as in an ego defence.

As a student of the psyche this insight and my willingness to go deeper into the complex allows me to bring to consciousness something I didn’t realize was affecting me unconsciously. These insights are incredibly powerful as they help us bring to consciousness why we are feeling like we are feeling.

Today I am feeling anxious because I requested something very important from someone. I didn’t quite realize how deeply this important request was affecting me, through this seemingly innocuous statement to a librarian I have now placed my emotions in context. The need to protect my ego helped me see how much of my ego is attached to the request I made and how vulnerable I feel. What to do with this knowledge? I am not sure exactly but just realizing that I am anxious and why is actually powerful knowledge and is already causing me to relax 🙂

Hoisted by Your Own Petard

I am sitting in my local coffee shop sitting behind a group of brash high school boys who instead of being in school at 10am are busy sipping coffee and ordering fancy breakfasts. There is however one young ring leader whose arrogance and self belief in my opinion is climbing off the charts, I hope this isn’t my own bias but a fair observation.

I don’t know enough about this kid to comment on whether he is a nice person. However I do know the family and know he comes from enormous wealth. He has been built up by his parents and their considerable influence as a tech genius. He knows nothing of my observation as I watch his feet tapping away with all this energy. He is banging away on his iPhone and his buddies are hanging on his every word. He has just come back from a trip to the US where he “interned” for some of the great companies and gained considerable media attention, all while still at school.

I end with my title line, not sure why that phrase came to mind but its meaning I think is quite apt. In many similar cases one creates a monster that lands up blowing up in ones own face.

Prospect Theory and its Supporters

For those of you not familiar with Behavioural Finance; the founding fathers Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman’s formulated a theory called Prospect Theory which deals with the way ordinary people make decisions about risky choices “knowing” the probability of the outcome. They found that the emotional value placed on the different outcomes produced an asymmetrical pay off where the emotion of loss had a far deeper impact than the pleasure of gain. As a rough rule of thumb it is documented that we experience a Loss Aversion i.e. we experience 2x the feeling of pain as we do to 1 part of joy, and you can see this demonstrated nicely in the chart below. If you are a math geek who wants to see the formulae this is what it looks like:






Every Sunday I take my son to play a weekly soccer match which I have been doing for the last 6 years with each year resulting in a significant increase in the amount of pressure attached to the match. I have loved watching and derive immense satisfaction with the skill improvements that have come from the dedication, commitment and passion for the game.

It dawned on me yesterday that my experience as a soccer supporter has a remarkable Prospect Theory S – Curve shape to it. I am sure many parents and loyal fans can attest to this. In essence when my son gets the soccer ball I am so petrified that he is going to stuff it up that my stomach rises into my chest so that when he does have a poor touch the negative emotions far outweigh the positive feelings of relief I get when he does something positive with the ball. I am not suggesting this is how every supporter experiences their moment.

For me the fact that my son made a specific team places a certain expectation of his player ability. Therefore simply playing a reasonably high level of soccer doesn’t necessarily illicit this immense emotion of joy; however, the minute he fails to meet this standard the negative emotion of disappointment and embarrassment far outweighs the positive emotions.

The truth be told I truly believe I am not like the typical parent trying to push his kid for over achievement. I sit quietly on the sidelines and I refrain from in-depth postmortems on the way home. This behavioural insight I share with you is probably the first time I have found a legitimate framework to contain the emotions I feel as a supporter.