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|Clinician's Digest Mar/Apr - Page 6|
Greenspan argues that the strongest inducement to falling for a con is the social-feedback loop. When enough people start whispering or shouting about a good thing, the scam acquires a credibility and excitement—an "irrational exuberance," in a phrase made famous by economists Alan Greenspan (no relation) and Robert Schiller to explain the once-soaring stock and housing markets. Call it the sunny side of mob psychology.
Greenspan listened to a financial advisor who was a close friend of his sister and had himself invested heavily in Madoff, as had many of his sister's friends. So strong was the social-feedback loop that when a friend known to be financially savvy warned him about investing, Greenspan reminded himself that his friend was prone to "knee-jerk cynicism."
The easy assumption is that people fall for scams because they're greedy, but Greenspan says it's often the situation, not greed, that draws people in. For him, the promised investment returns were steady and modest, exactly the investment strategy he wanted at this stage in his life; he'd have been suspicious of extravagant promises. Personality ties into gullibility, too: "I'm a highly trusting person who doesn't like to say no," he writes—which makes him vulnerable to sales people and friends who urge him to do something for his own good. His trust level, combined with his occasional bursts of risk-taking and impulsive decision-making, made him a sitting duck.
But his gullibility had some limits. He retained enough skepticism so that he didn't toss his entire retirement savings into Madoff's maw. "As I avoided drinking a full glass of Madoff Kool-Aid," he consoles himself, "maybe I'm not as lacking in wisdom as I thought."
Therapists as Clients
Surveys find that about 20 to 25 percent of therapists have never sat in the client's chair. So Scranton University psychologist John Norcross, who began studying therapists in therapy 20 years ago, wondered who they were and why they'd avoided the experience. He and his coresearchers compared 119 therapists who'd never been in therapy with 608 who had, to find out why they'd abstained and how they might differ from their colleagues.