Does money mess with your mind?

Mar 26

Does money mess with your mind? Studies say that it does, there is an article called “Why money messes with your mind,” by Mark Buchanan. Psychologists have studied how it makes people feel just to talk about money.

Dough, wonga, greenbacks, cash. Just words, you might say, but they carry an eerie psychological force. Chew them over for a few moments, and you will become a different person. Simply thinking about words associated with money seems to makes us more self-reliant and less inclined to help others. And it gets weirder: just handling cash can take the sting out of social rejection and even diminish physical pain.

It is so funny that money and even talking about it can make people feel better about themselves and it even helps with rejection.  Money is just supposed to be a tool, right?  Apparently it is not a regular tool.  Tools like axes help cut down trees, and money is just supposed to be an economic tool, right?  Well, it’s not.

…traditional economists tell us, dispassionately set the price of anything from a loaf of bread to a painting by Picasso. Yet money stirs up more passion, stress and envy than any axe or hammer ever could. We just can’t seem to deal with it rationally… but why?

In his book, Science of Getting Rich, Wallace Wattles says:

A man develops in mind, soul, and body by making use of things, and society is so organized that man must have money in order to become the possessor of things; therefore, the basis of all advancement for man must be the science of getting rich.

The problem with society is that we don’t just see money as a way of personal development, it has many facets.  Buchanan’s article says the following things about money:

  1. Some people seem addicted to accumulating it, while others can’t help maxing out their credit cards and find it impossible to save for a rainy day.
  2. Some people’s brains can react to it as they would to a drug, while to others it is like a friend.
  3. Desire for money gets cross-wired with our appetite for food.
  4. Money is virtually synonymous with status – so much so that losing it can lead to depression and even suicide.
  5. Those strongly motivated primarily on money are also more likely to find their marriage ending in divorce.
  6. Financial strain can bring depression, perceived loss of control and reduced life expectancy.
  7. People who felt rejected by others, or were subjected to physical pain, were subsequently less likely to give a monetary gift in a game situation.
  8. Just handling paper money could reduce the distress associated with social exclusion, and also diminish the physical pain caused by touching very hot water.
  9. When society does not work (in other words you are friendless) money is acting as a surrogate friend. Could that explain why some people focus on extrinsic aspirations at the expense of real social relationships?
  10. Money, like nicotine or cocaine, can activate the brain’s pleasure centres, the neurological pathways that make biologically beneficial activities such as sex feel so rewarding.
  11. Hungry volunteers were less likely to donate to charity than those who were satiated; those primed to have a high desire for money, by having imagined winning a big lottery, went on to eat the most candy in a taste test; and people whose appetites had been piqued by sitting in a room with a delicious smell, gave less money in a game situation than those who played in a normal-smelling room.
  12. Hungry people are less likely to donate money to charity than those who are satiated

Love it or hate, money controls the lives of poor and rich.  Avoid talking about it if you want, but money will not avoid you, you are surrounded by it.  Money does mess with your mind, you must admit that it is important.  I would like to think that money is just a tool for me, but I must admit that the times in my life when I had no money, I thought about it all the time and it was often with a feeling of panic.  In the end I believe money magnifies our personalities in both lack and abundance. With money, if you are bad, you will be worse, if you are good you will be better. Unfortunately, when we are completely broke, we are often selfish and unwilling to “do unto others.”

What are your thoughts?

One comment

  1. I have been with out money for almost two months, and the only reason that I finally decided to go get a job, which was quite easy to do is because I realized that without money it is difficult to have a place to sleep. Or is it? I spent the last 2 months having no difficulty in finding a place to sleep but much of it may have had to do with the fact that I have always been a very helpful person. Even now that I have no dollars, I am more than happy to do others dishes, help farm etc.. I don’t think that it is not having money that stresses people out, but their un-investigated beliefs about it. I wrote hundreds of pages about money and social relationships and my experience has probably been quite different than others. However, I would say that if it wasn’t for all the wonderful hospitality of my friends, and the fact that they do have money, I would have had a very different experience. I don’t want to say that it would be a bad experience. Maybe sleeping under a bridge would teach me a lot about life, or wandering the country side. Indeed life simply happens as it does. It is our idea that things are supposed to go a certain that creates the stress and anxiety, but in order to reach that perspective one must have things taken care of for them for quite some time to contemplate what life would be like without money. Indeed they would realize that it is the environment that is the primary reason we live the way we do, not any one person, and it would lead them to take greater personal responsibility, and help others just as they have been helped. Maybe I just see life in a very different way though.

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