Inside the Banker’s Brain: The Physiology of Greed

Posted: September 10, 2017 in The Global Economic Crisis
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In Search of the Banker’s Brain

Directed by Jos de Putter (2013)

Film Review

In Search of the Banker’s Brain is about the biochemical changes associated with greed. Inspired by a Dutch blogger who investigated the “banker culture” that led to the 2008 global economic collapse, it paints a troubling picture about our willingness to place the welfare of the global economy in the hands of 25-year-old ruthless macho hyper-competitive psychopaths.

In addition to several former investment bankers, the film also features a Dutch psychologist who treats Wall Street bankers and a former trader turned neuropsychologist who investigates how greed affects the brain. He begins by describing the rigged reward system that rewards traders to take enormous risks with other peoples’ money – they get massive bonuses if they’re successful and no consequences at all if they fail.

In response, they begin to crave risk, which feels just like a narcotic when it floods their brain with adrenaline and cortisol. They become cunning like heroin addicts looking for their next fix and show traits (loss of conscience and scruples) virtually indistinguishable from psychopaths in a prison environment.

Like psychopaths, they also tend to burn out around age 40, which is when they are at high risk for “econocide.”*

* Term coined by psychologists term for banker suicide.


  1. Hopefully the age that they “burn out” drops to 20 soon and they all commit “econocide.”

  2. I find it interesting that Wilhelm Reich was writing in 1933 about western society’s willingness to let psychopaths run society. It seems very little has changed.

  3. I feel sorry for the bankers. They’ve been trained like laboratory rats, forced to live in a Skinner box. Oh… wait a minute, they’re free to live anywhere.

  4. More and more, JoAnn, I’m convinced that capitalism shapes people to be greedy, competitive and sociopathic. I simply don’t buy the human nature arguments any more about the supposedly innate flaws that make egalitarian society impossible. Thanks for commenting.

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