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Is greed an inherently destructive part of the human condition that must be controlled and regulated by external constraints, or are the destructive aspects of greed more the function of the pathology of the individual and culture? If the latter is the case then psychoanalysis and particularly Kleinian theory of mind have much to offer. From this point of view, experiences of deprivation give rise to envy and greedy sadistic fantasies that are projected, resulting in persecutory anxiety that is defended against by splitting and fantasies of omnipotent power over others, seen as part objects to be exploited and controlled. These dynamics describe the essential elements of the unconscious fantasies and defenses of the psychopathic personalities often found behind the financial scandals. The notorious Bernie Madoff is an example, as is the fictional character Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street. The psychoanalytic description of the dynamics of destructive greed and envy provides a basis for differentiating good greed from bad greed.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: American journal of psychoanalysis
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