Meditation or Medication?

Trading Psychology Will Never Die

Oded Shefer comments on an article published by Chris Capre, in a discussion that veers off from the trading desk

While reading Chris Capre’s article confirming the death of psychology trading, I could not keep quiet. This does not mean that I need to take medicine – but merely shows that my psychology is alive and kicking.

Allow me to take off first with a positive note. Everything written about the benefits of meditation is true and I hope many will share its positive effects. With regards to trading, I can agree that if a trader meditates he should be able to handle stress more effectively (compared to himself) and as a result make higher quality decisions. This is not limited to trading, though.

But now let me please make the following arguments:

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  1. Psychology is not dead and could never be killed so easily (question from your therapist: What makes YOU want to kill it anyway?)
  2. Psychology is not limited to psychotherapy: Decision making and stress, for example, were subjects for endless amounts of experiments. There is a whole body of cognitive science and countless other fields of psychology leading to huge contributions to millions of people around the world. Hence – psychology is far from being anachronistic!
  3. Medicine has also improved the lives of millions around the world – it deals with the physical aspects of psychological phenomena. But it does not mean psychology is dead. It is just another route and for sure not the only one.
  4. We live in a complex world where people get to choose what is best for them. I oppose the “black and white” judgement that meditation is better than therapy. No! Meditation is great and has been proven to help but so does therapy as does medicine. People can and should choose the right way for themselves. Let’s leave “black & white talk” to ISIS and other extremists.
  5. The wish to teach meditation and help traders learn from their own mistakes is blessed, but more education on decision making, judgement and stress (all psychological factors by the way) could also help. While we are at it – why not help your clients reflect on what brought them to trading in the first place. Perhaps meditation is what they have been looking for in the first place…

One last note: Trading can be a good teacher as it can show you a reflection of yourself while you are struggling with the desire to close a losing trade or while you struggle with the urge to take a small win. Falling and falling again and then rising up can help you learn about discipline, perseverance, patience, concentration and ego and are very important to adopt for trading skills. Meditation can help with coping, but I don’t think it could ever replace this experience.

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