My recent post reviewed research that suggests a link between risk-taking and addictive behavior. It's not just that an "addictive personality" will take undue risks; in addition, repeated large risk taking alters the structure and function of the brain so as to sustain addictive behavior. Many traders I've worked with never had discipline problems or out-of-control behaviors until they began frequent daytrading. When you think of traders at some firms placing 100 or more trades a day--basically one every four minutes--it's difficult to imagine that such frequent and unremitting risk/reward swings *wouldn't* affect the workings of mind and brain.
What's more, as Dr. Bruce Hong notes, is that exhausting frustration tolerance and willpower on one set of tasks appears to make us less disciplined on subsequent ones. That is how bad trading often leads to further bad trading, but also can lead to poor decision-making in other facets of life.
One of my first clues that a trader might be out of control is that he/she can't take a break from trading when he/she is losing money and can't reduce his/her risk after a series of losing days. This is very similar to the drinker who cannot stop imbibing alcohol even after the point of consequences.
If you are losing money and cannot stop yourself from trading--during a single trading day or after days of loss--I encourage you to take the hard look in the mirror at what you might be doing to your trading account, your emotions, your brain, your relationships, and your life.
Here are some posts regarding trading addiction that shed useful light--and offer helpful suggestions--regarding this painful and sensitive topic:
* When Trading Gets Out of Control
* Addictive Trading and Getting Your Life Back
* Craving Trading Highs
* Warning Signs of Trading Addiction