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Escape Money Madness

   Everyone knows that money problems are frequently at the center of relational problems, but have you every wondered whether you might have a “financial disorder”?  “Financial Psychologists” Ted and Brad Klontz have written a book, Mind Over Money in which they claim many people do and list several in their book including:  Money-Avoidance Disorder, Money-Worshipping Disorder, and Relational Money Disorder

According to the authors most people link financial problems, too little earnings or too much debt, to character flaws such as laziness, greed, carelessness, poor planning, etc. but there may be much more than just character issues.  What they say is that many of us have experienced powerfully emotional associations with financial issues early in life experiences that were a financial flashpoint for us. Flashpoints could be growing up poor, where you feel hopeless about having money so you spend it as fast as it comes in; or growing up spoiled where patents taught that money equals love, and you now use money to buy friendships.  These flashpoints may leave imprints that last into adulthood and crippled you in the area of finances. 

Money-Avoidance Disorder
These disorders come from associating money with negative emotions or painful events causing you to equate money with evil.  The authors claim that people with this disorder run “Big-Bad Wolf” scripts through their heads and run away from money issues.  They claim that 80% of NFL players have gone bankrupt within two years of retirement because they failed to face the discomfort and anxiety that comes from having more money that they need.

Money-Worshipping Disorder
These disorders are the exact opposite of money-avoidance disorders cause people with this disorder place an unreasonable amount of value and importance on money.  They equate self-worth, happiness, and safety with money.  They see money as magical and transformative.  They sense they are better people because they have money.

Relational Money Disorder
The authors identify four types of relational money disorders and in each case the person with the disorder is secretive or dishonest about money, even with people they love. People with financial dependency or financial enabling disorders see money as the way to let them control others or rescue themselves from the control of others.  The financial incest person is an abusive person who uses money to manipulate people or satisfy an adult need.  The financial infidel uses money to buy relationships and secure them for the future.  Money replaces true love and affection.

What can you do if you think this may be a problem area for you?  The author recommends three steps to recovery.  First resolve any unfinished business related to your past and get a healthy perspective on any past experiences. Journaling can be a great way to rethink how you have dealt with money in the past.  Secondly, get support through a support group, or by seeing a therapist and financial planner.  Finally, make the commitment to see money in a healthy way.  Not as your master or your slave but as a way to live responsibly earning, investing, and giving to worthy causes and to those less fortunate.

Whether you buy into the idea that financial mismanagement may have roots in mental health, we all recognize how easily we place inappropriate value on money.  For some of you a great new year’s resolution might be learning how to think in healthy ways about your finances.  Have a great 2010.