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Would You Rob a Bank if You Needed Cash?

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We're ALL under financial stress, but this doesn't mean we'll go rob a bank ... does it? A psychologist tells us how to deal with financial stress.

Bruce Windsor

Father of four Bruce Windsor was a church deacon and soccer coach. He's been married for 16 years, and his kids are 11, 9, 6, and 3. But the owner of a real estate company, facing mounting financial difficulties, snapped -- and tried to rob a South Carolina bank last week.

His actions were "out of character" for a man who has never been in trouble with the law before, friends and relatives said. His tearful sister, defending him as he stood before a judge, said, "He must have just snapped under the pressure."

In this recession, more and more people are being pushed to desperate acts. "We do not yet understand what Mr. Windsor's motivation and thought process was," says clinical psychologist Dr. Cara Gardenswartz, Ph.D. "But we can surmise that he had some of the personality traits or predisposition to 'snapping' given a stressful situation - even though these qualities had never been witnessed or realized before. And financial pressure (including his self-esteem as related to finances and/or familial or societal pressure) could be just the state of affairs to bring about these previously un-fueled traits."

MOST of us are under financial pressure. According to a survey in October by the American Psychological Association, 80% of Americans are stressed about their personal finances and the economy.

"People impacted by financial stress can exhibit anxiety, anger, panic attacks, concentration problems, sleep disturbance, sadness, fatigue, alcohol or drug abuse, isolation, or acting on impulse (which might have been the case with Mr. Windsor)," says Dr. Gardenswartz.

How to cope

During a financial crisis, it is important not only to survive physically (by having enough means to live and not losing one's savings), but also to take care of oneself emotionally to reduce stress, says Dr. Gardenswartz.

Dr. Gardenswartz's Top Ways to Cope with Stress:
Deep breathing
Changing one's cognitions (e.g., trying to put things into perspective...."I am healthy") Helping others
Maintaining or initiating healthy eating and sleep patterns
Group therapy -- whereby people share similar experiences

"Also, spending time with your friends or family instead of isolating yourself can be very therapeutic," Dr. Gardenswartz says. "Finally, asserting your feelings when you are angry, instead of becoming combative, is critical. This is something Mr. Windsor would have benefited from. And having a little bit of hope ('this will get better') goes a long way."

Do you ever feel like you're going to snap under all the financial pressure?

next: Look Who is Due to Pop!
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous March 3, 2009, 2:21 PM

Not enough to hurt other people financially.

Angela Gebhart March 4, 2009, 9:37 AM

This man lives near me. He was having alot of money problems. What would you do if you could’nt feed your kids? He should’nt have tried to rob the bank,but sometimes u do what u have to do. All these banks are taking our tax money,do you think they are going to help you if your credit is bad. We are gonna help them keep there jobs,Are they gonna help you when you lose yours?

chris March 4, 2009, 10:20 AM

I don’t think you can’t excuse bad behavior. Many people are having a hard time right now but people need to stop expecting the government to bail them out. Right now our country -not just you and me- but our actual country is so far in dept that your children children will be paying for us. Life is hard but again we are all responsible for our own choices. How many people have lived outside of their need (big house, too many cars, designer clothes and just spending, spending, spending like there’s no tomorrow) will guess what tomorrow is now here and everyone needs to buckle their wallets down and live a more simplier life.

Anonymous March 4, 2009, 11:59 AM

i hope i don’t have this personality traits unknowingly. yikes

Angela Gebhart March 4, 2009, 4:55 PM

I wasnt saying that he should be excused for robbing a bank. I know this man and he is a very good man.I was saying don’t judge untill you’ve been there.He will do time in jail as he should,but he was’nt living beyond his means.He was just tring to provide for his family.I’ve been there, lost my house to foreclosure and I was’nt living beyound my means.My husbands company cut his pay by half so they could put more in their pockets,they did’nt care about my family. I believe banks only care about the big people not little people like me.

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