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Trader vs. Investor
by Vincent Barry

. . . I am often asked: What is the difference between a trader and an investor? Well, both are gamblers who won’t admit it. But let’s drill down a little, as they like to say on cable news these days, at least deep enough to strike the Freudian motherlode: the pleasure- and reality-principles. According to Freud (and, btw, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Montgomery Clift’s Freud or Vigo Mortensen’s, though, frankly, I prefer Vigo. Monty—I don’t know, I always thought Monty was better cast on Freud’s couch, but that’s just me.) Freud’s  pleasure principle speaks to the human instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain, immediately. True, he didn’t exactly say “immediately,” but close enough, since he contrasted the pleasure-principle with the reality-principle, the capacity to defer pleasure when immediate gratification is off the table. Think microwave vs. oven. Anyway, the key difference between a “trader” and an “investor” is that the so-called trader is slave to the pleasure principle, whereas the investor can live with the reality principle. The former, the trader, needs an instant pay-off, whereas the latter, the investor, can delay it. The investor has patience, the trader has little or none. . . . Look for investors in hobbies such as bird watching, fishing, knitting, and crocheting— doing 500 piece puzzles, perhaps, or math for fun. Traders, on the other hand, you’ll find playing video games, stargazing, cloud watching, and occasionally even making origami. The key thing, though, is that both need help, which brings us to the practical question: What to do? Keep in mind that trader and investor differ only in degree. So, treat the “investor” as you would a “social drinker.” No real problem until, say, she is doing Zorba’s Dance—y’know, the sirtaki?— with a lampshade on her head at a family reunion. Bell, coolie, square, rectangle, hexagon— it doesn’t matter what’s on her head. It’s what is in her head that counts. The trader, by contrast, is—well, ever seen The Lost WeekendCat on a Hot Tin Roof? No? What about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or Suck It Up Buttercup? . . . Both need support. . . . Don’t BLAME, show LOVE, offer OPTIONS, and always stay CALM. Oops! Just tipped my hand. . . . . BLOC, and so much more, in my upcoming investment seminar on stock exchanges as casinos without neon or walls painted gold, coming soon to a club near you! . . .