Master Your Finances Kurt Baker with David Munck – Mental Health during COVID19 Transcript

Written by on May 31, 2020

00:00 Kurt Baker: You’re listening to a podcast of Master Your Finances with me, Kurt Baker, a certified financial planner professional. Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM on 1077thebronc.com.
00:09 Kurt Baker: Good morning and welcome back to another addition of Master Your Finances. Presented by Certified Wealth Management and Investment. I am Kurt Baker, a certified financial planner professional located in Princeton, New Jersey. I can be reached through our website, which is www.cwmi.us or you can call me directly at 609-716-4700. This week, very pleased to have with this David Patrick Munck, who’s an MSW… LSW and also an LCADCI as well as an ICGCC, which have to do with helping people with addictions as well as gambling issues. He’s a clinically trained psychotherapist who uses psychodynamic as well as a variety of situationally appropriate client-centered approaches. He earned his Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work, from Rutgers University where he focused on addiction counselor training, the study and clinical application of addiction and substance use abuse treatment.
01:20 Kurt Baker: He has also completed training by the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board. He was clinically trained at two prominent substance abuse facilities in New Jersey. His first year was spent treating adults in an intensive outpatient environment, and his second year was spent treating adolescents in a residential facility. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Richard Stockton University in 1985, where he focused on cultural anthropology. He has also completed two years at the Philadelphia Jung Institute, where he studied the theory and clinical application of analytical psychology, and the work of Carl Gustav Jung. He is currently enrolled in the Spring 2020 semester at the institute. He pursues the independent study of comparative religion, mythology, trauma-informed therapy, and the application of clinical strategies and uncovering and addressing early childhood trauma, complex trauma, as experienced by veterans and first responders, and mindfulness as it applies in clinical practice.
02:31 Kurt Baker: David, I think it’s interesting, I’d like for you to go through your background, but I actually met you at a financial advisor meeting. So do you wanna give us a little bit of your background and the path that led you to where you are today? If you could help us out.
02:45 David Munck: Sure. Thank you Kurt. Yeah, the part of the… My history, which I don’t advertise these days is I used to be a financial advisor and it was… I switched over going back to graduate school to do what I’m currently doing, and I had a successful practice, as an independent broker doing securities and insurance products. But to me there seemed… There was a point in time when it just seemed to me that there was something else that I needed to do. And interestingly, you and I, I think have spoken about this previously, but the… This goes back to an experience that I had with clients around 2008, and it was a rather interesting experience for me because as you’re probably familiar to some extent, these were two clients, a man and woman that seemed to have managed to stay married, raise a family successfully. The kids were three kids, they were all independent and successful out there on their own and he… They had the plan that he would retire, at a particular point in time.
04:14 David Munck: He was a veteran, he was a very diligent guy, very thoughtful, very big part of his community and prior to his coming in, he was in… His employment situation was such that he had a defined benefit pension plan at one time that was converted to a 401 [k], so he had a couple years of experience with a defined contribution plan, that being the 401 [k]. The time that I met him was just subsequent to the falling apart of the markets and the economy in 2008. They came into my office and presented his paperwork with this grand plan that they had of his retirement. And, you know, upon looking at his paperwork, I had to be the one to tell him that he couldn’t retire unless of course he wanted to run out of money and that was deeply, deeply troubling for them. And I shared how troubling it was because in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Well, here’s a couple of people that really did everything right and somehow they’ve been served up this situation which was really untoward for them and very stressful and very difficult.”
05:46 David Munck: So that was a big part of my decision to get out. Now, prior to that… We’ve spoken about this as well. Prior to that, I sort of had this other fascination with… As strange as it sounds, with the prevalence of suicide in our culture. And this story goes back to when my father was still alive, he lived in South Amboy. And I used to go visit him from time to time, and this was around 2005-2006. And I remember going to see him and he would always… He was an avid reader, a very smart guy and he always had a stack of newspapers out that he would go through every day, and the headline of the newspaper this one particular day was talking about the construction of the new Victory Bridge. Now, if anybody knows the area up there on the Raritan River, the Victory Bridge was this low-lying bridge that needed to be opened every time traffic came up the Raritan River. So around 2005-2006 they decided they were gonna build a new bridge. So the headline of that newspaper was a story, talking about the evening that they opened that bridge somebody had gone to the bridge and jumped. And, you know I… There was something about my noticing it at the time which was puzzling to me. And then over subsequent visits, there were more headlines.
07:27 David Munck: In other words, more people were going to that particular bridge and doing the same. And there was something about that that was troubling, and odd. And I began to scratch the surface of that and look around, ’cause we all have the internet now. Now, this was not something I found out that was unique to that bridge. In fact this was happening all over the place, and all around the country, not just there. But some of the most poignant stories were coming out of the George Washington Bridge up there and the trouble that the Port Authority was having trying to maintain control and help people who are feeling so stressed that they opted for that. So that was sort of the background that sort of led me up to this moment in my own life, to decide to move into another field. But yeah, the… It was troubling, you know?
08:36 David Munck: So when I was in graduate school, after I had made the decision to actually do this, I did some writing… Some research on this subject myself and I found some pretty puzzling numbers to me, and I think I gave you… I sent you a copy of this. It was a list of these totals that go back to 2005. And I don’t wanna be too morbid about this, but it is some troubling stuff and it is stuff that I think people need to think about and consider, especially in light of the conditions that we’re currently dealing with with COVID. Because people’s stress levels are through the roof. And the stuff that I’m now experiencing in the consultation room, the virtual consultation room is tremendous amounts of anxiety and stress.
09:29 David Munck: But just to go back, in 2005 which were the numbers that I looked at, there were 27,223 people who committed suicide in the United States that year. Now, fast forward a couple of years to 2008, which was the financial crisis, the great recession, there were 36,035 people that committed suicide that year. And that was an increase of almost 7000 people a year to the year prior, in 2007. The issue that sort of began to strike me… And then I’ll fast forward to 2018, which is the last year reported ’cause the CDC, which is where all these numbers come from, the CDC reports this stuff every two years. And so 2018, the number was 48,344. So that’s an increase in that brief period of time from 2005-2018, where… Which was an increase of 21,121 people were committing suicide every year in the United States. Each year.
10:54 David Munck: So that to me… That threw up so many red flags to me that it required discussion, it required a conversation, it required… I think each of us have our own particular relationship to this and other forms of mental illness. But to me, it required me to do what I’m currently doing.
11:19 Kurt Baker: Well, David, I appreciate that. I mean, we’re definitely gonna get into more of that. We’re about to come up on a break. But yeah, the financial services is definitely from my perspective, tied very heavily into the psychological world, the mental health world, because that tends to be the major stressor. As you well know. They are well tied together. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’ll be right back.
11:41 Kurt Baker: Welcome back. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. I am Kurt Baker, here with David Munck, and we’re talking about how David, you’re really… You kind of transitioned from the financial services business, into your passion ’cause you saw a need in helping people as far as psychology goes and assisting them in a therapeutic way. I guess I have this conversation a lot myself, ’cause as you know, my non-profit side is involved in youth mental health and of course, my professional side is involved in helping people with finances. And I really kinda look at this as helping people with their mental health because as you’re probably well aware of, finances tend to be either number one or very high up on the list of stressors that people have in their lives. And I personally believe that if you kinda help people to understand their finances and live comfortably within their own structure, their stress levels drop and they are much, much happier when they start to release themselves and really kind of put themselves and their health first, their mental happiness first, and then the… Kind of the financial part falls in there.
12:49 Kurt Baker: Anyway, that’s been kind of my own personal experience over the years. And I know that the people that I know that are very, very wealthy, you really can’t tell that they’re wealthy from an appearance standpoint. They’re really managed… They’re just living well within their means. They’re not necessarily making the highest income of people out there, they just accumulate because they tend to be very happy in a relatively minimal… Minimalist way. Not that they deny themselves, they just live well within what they can afford. I mean, what are your thoughts about that as far as how all that goes?
13:22 David Munck: Well, I think the connection is spot on. And again, you make me think of Tom Stanley’s book, The Millionaire Mind, right? He talked about that years ago, in terms of the people who have accumulated that kind of wealth, generally when you look at them you wouldn’t really know it, because they haven’t fallen for the trappings of accumulation for the sake of accumulation. They’ve kept it simple and kept it… Kept accumulating. Driving a modest car. It’s been a year since I read it, but all of the things that he said at the time about basically being humble, I think was my takeaway at the time. But yeah, there is a direct connection to finance and, as you call it, happiness. We could talk later about clinically, I’m not sure that happiness is the goal as much as meaningfulness is the goal. But recently there was a Washington Post article, in fact it was on May 4th, a gentleman by the name of William Wan, W-A-N. And he wrote an article in which he’s talking about for every point increase in unemployment, there was a 1.6% increase in the suicide rate. So the issue that we’re having to confront now, in the context of COVID and all of these stressors that have been put on people with mandatory stay at home, this has affected a lot of people throughout the strata of the economy. And it’s sort of evidenced. And there’s lots of other studies out there on this.
15:30 Kurt Baker: That’s a major debate right now as well. I mean, we all wanna be safe from the virus, but we also have to recognize that secluding and putting people in isolation also has negative health… You know, health effects too. So you’ve got a real tricky process you have to go through where you don’t want people to get sick from the virus, but you also don’t want people to become unhealthy because they’re isolated in situations where that’s also affecting their health in a very negative way in some cases. For some of us, it’s just an annoyance. For other people, it can be serious… Have a serious effect on their health, right?
16:04 David Munck: Yeah. Yeah. And again, I mean, getting back to the point that you made, the issue is it revolves around finance. And for me, one of the things that I’m seeing in my consultation room is the idea that there are a lot of old wounds being opened as a result of this situation. There are a lot of new wounds being created. But fundamentally, I think what we’re dealing with is a sense of trauma on the part of everyone. There’s an individual trauma that is experienced differentially throughout the population, but then there’s this sort of collective or communal trauma that everyone is wrestling with, and as you alluded to, the policy debates are now ensuing as to what the best path forward is. But yeah, the issue of finances as a trigger, it’s different across the strata of society. And some of my old clients that I still have a relationship with, they’re trying to manage legacy wealth, they’re trying to manage family relations in the context of raising kids who will eventually become leaders of the family wealth, so to speak. Who will be good stewards of what, in some cases, was passed on to them. So in the context of what we’re dealing with, the stress that’s rising between couples, between families, between being stuck at home essentially, is creating lots and lots of anxiety, right?
18:16 Kurt Baker: Yeah, I think anxiety is a big one and I think all of us are probably having some level of anxiety right now regarding what’s happening ’cause this is really a brand new occurrence for everybody. Yeah, we’ve literally never gone through this before, unless you’re, whatever, 102 or 103 years old living through the…
18:34 David Munck: 1918, yeah.
18:35 Kurt Baker: Maybe you’re one of those couple handfuls of people that lived through that. For the majority of us, this is really a brand new experience for us and we’re all still kind of adjusting to it and those who already have pretty serious anxiety issues for other reasons, potentially, to put this on top of it is really… I think it’s an issue. I mean, what are you seeing… I mean, what are you telling people? I mean, as this has been happening, we’re now a couple of months into this, what changes are you seeing and how are you helping people to kind of get through this? ‘Cause there will be an end to this, we just don’t really know when it is or how we’re gonna process out of this. We don’t know how long this is gonna take, but I think we’re all confident that at some point, we’re gonna come out the other end of this thing.
19:21 David Munck: Yeah.
19:22 Kurt Baker: I see that light at the end of the tunnel for those that are having trouble.
19:27 David Munck: So for someone who’s in it, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of tunnel.
19:37 Kurt Baker: Right.
19:38 David Munck: And I… People present with anxiety… Overwhelming levels of anxiety. I try to calm them in a way that… And basically talk about the idea of what is anxiety. Anxiety fundamentally comes from a word that has an Indo-Germanic root, “ang”, which is angst. Angina, anxiety. And fundamentally, what that root means is constrictions. So someone who presents with those symptoms, we try to unravel or peel this proverbial onion and try to understand what it is that’s being constricted and try to work through that in a way that empowers them and helps them to understand some of the stuff that is there, but they’re not conscious of.
20:54 Kurt Baker: It’s interesting when you talk about constriction like that, because I know it’s difficult… When you’re under a lot of pressure or stress, it’s actually very hard to make decisions.
21:04 David Munck: That’s right.
21:05 Kurt Baker: So you’re actually multiplying the problem. Especially when you’re dealing with something like this, where you need to make maybe more decisions and very important decisions in some cases, like do I go to work today?
21:16 David Munck: That’s right.
21:16 Kurt Baker: Am I healthy enough to go to the grocery store? Am I gonna be able to get the food, or how do I get paid? There’s a lot of things people are having some trouble with as… And so when you’re under this much stress, it’s actually harder.
21:33 David Munck: I think maybe it is, and part of the… You said this earlier, we have no frame to put this in, because it was our grandparents who had to deal with this in 1919… 1918.
21:51 Kurt Baker: Right.
21:52 David Munck: And we’re not quite sure what the impact or what the wounding was on that generation, because not that long after that they had to deal with the Depression. So we don’t really talk about the Spanish flu. What we talk about is the Depression and the mindset that arose out of the Depression, for that generation.
22:15 Kurt Baker: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, it’s very true.
22:17 David Munck: But frankly, that generation had a double whammy…
22:20 Kurt Baker: Right, sure.
22:21 David Munck: In dealing with both of these things. And so I guess the issue for me is really what is being triggered here? And strangely, I think that there’s a… Especially on that idea of collective trauma, there is a real breakdown taking place. There’s a lack of integration. The integration that previously existed amongst society, family, and all the supportive structures that were there, have broken down. And to go back to… And I’m not gonna get wonky on this or theoretical, but Émile Durkheim years ago, who really wrote the seminal work on the study of suicide, and he talked about it being a result of a breakdown in social integration.
23:20 Kurt Baker: And that’s a… No, that’s a great topic. We have to come up on a break here…
23:23 David Munck: Got it.
23:24 Kurt Baker: But I definitely wanna get into this, the collective trauma and the lack of integration and what’s been going on as far as how we’ve had to make adjustments of things that we need to be doing.
23:32 David Munck: Yes.
23:32 Kurt Baker: You’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’ll be right back.
[pause]
23:36 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you’re listening to Master Your Finances. I’m Kurt Baker here with David Munck. And before the break, we were talking a little bit about the collective trauma we’re going through, and how kind of a lack of integration is having some side effects, so to speak, on all of us. Do you wanna talk… Speak a little bit to that, David? And maybe things that we could potentially do to kind off set that to some degree?
24:00 David Munck: Sure.
24:01 Kurt Baker: ‘Cause I know it has a lot of ramifications on many levels right now.
24:04 David Munck: It does. And again, I mentioned Durkheim earlier in terms of how he defined suicide at the time that he was writing about it and talking about it as a breakdown in social integration. So, another aspect of this breakdown of social integration and suicide, obviously, is an extreme example of… Or an extreme result of this breakdown, but there are lots of other things in between a sense of anxiety and a complete breakdown, which results in suicide. But part of the communal trauma, I think that we’re working through, has to do with this disruption in a sense of belonging. Everything is so disrupted right now. And sadly, I think part of the difficulty is for many of us, our identities are directly connected to what we do. So then the question is, if you are what do you do, and then you don’t do it anymore, it means you aren’t.
25:29 Kurt Baker: Right.
25:29 David Munck: You follow what I’m saying?
[laughter]
25:31 Kurt Baker: I do, I do, and I’ve heard of people taking up new hobbies and new… Like they’re learning things. Like my daughter is learning Latin right now, and learning how to train a falcon.
25:43 David Munck: That’s brilliant.
[laughter]
25:43 Kurt Baker: As a way to keep herself occupied. I’m sure she’s not the only one that’s saying, “I can’t do everything I used to do before, so let me find something of interest that I would never ever be able to do otherwise, and let me start doing some of it.”
25:55 David Munck: Well, I think it’s a great credit.
25:56 Kurt Baker: ,,,.
25:58 David Munck: It’s a great credit to you and her mother for having provide her with the sufficient space to become who she wants to be.
26:08 Kurt Baker: Maybe we provide or she just takes it. I don’t know. It works out though.
26:13 David Munck: Take the credit, Kurt. Take the credit.
26:16 Kurt Baker: It works out good. It works out good. Okay, I’ll take it.
26:18 David Munck: But yeah. So, this breakdown or disruption and a sense of belonging or connectedness if you will, where all of our values and norms were… Have been completely undermined by this current situation.
26:39 Kurt Baker: Right.
26:40 David Munck: So the symptoms people are experiencing in this context are deeply, deeply troubling. And I sort of in jest talk about this idea of identity, but it is directly related to your sense of self. And I mentioned to you before, your program is Master Your Finances. But I think really from my perspective, I went from trying to teach people how to master their finance to trying to teach people and work with people in mastering themselves.
27:26 Kurt Baker: I would actually agree with that, because really, there’s no way you’re ever gonna master your finances until you master yourself. I would have to agree with that, that statement.
27:37 David Munck: With how many years of experience in the business?
27:42 Kurt Baker: A few, 34…
27:43 David Munck: A few, alright.
27:45 Kurt Baker: Yeah, let’s just say enough.
27:49 David Munck: Enough to know better.
27:51 Kurt Baker: But no, it’s true. It really… A lot of it comes down to really understanding yourself and realizing what works for you and what doesn’t work for you, and then applying it. And that may sound very simplistic, but it’s a lot easier said than done in many cases. As you well know, as well.
28:09 David Munck: Yeah.
28:09 Kurt Baker: Is we can have all the knowledge in the world but if you can’t apply it, and feel it being applied in a way that you understand that complies with your own personality and your own feelings, then it’s just really not gonna work. And I think that’s part of what some people are going through now, honestly, and I’d be curious about your input on this because a lot of people are really doing a lot of self-reflection now. That they’re working from home and they’re spending more time with their families and they’re kind of readjusting their… I think their priorities are being readjusted. And I know a lot of people are having conversations about this balancing… We call it balancing, I guess. I don’t know what you wanna call it. But I think you integrate your life personally, your work and your home and everything really kinda integrates if you do it correctly, ’cause it all affects each other. And you have to understand that this all has an effect on everything else and it all has to work together. Otherwise, it’s just not gonna work.
29:06 David Munck: Well, I think that’s a brilliant observation, but it all… Again, it all sort of revolves around this notion of integration. Right?
29:13 Kurt Baker: Right, yeah. Absolutely.
29:15 David Munck: So Durkheim, talking about social integration, and we were talking about communal or collective trauma of this experience, but within that is the individual sense, the individual trauma in terms of the interruption that has taken place. And that breakdown of connectedness, it spawns a collective issue, but that collective issue lands individually, and it affects thinking, it affects a person’s capacity to plan. And the other aspect of this, is it affects and undermines their symbolic capacity.
30:03 Kurt Baker: Yeah, I think… Yeah you’re bringing up two major points which I think are really important and I… ‘Cause we do have the personal side of this, it affects us personally, but it affects us from a communal standpoint. And I think the part that a lot of us are having struggles with, it’s very hard to affect the entire community on your own, and so you see a lot of negative things occurring out there that you wish there was more you could do about. As an example, many of these restaurants are closed, and we know some of these owners and we’re feeling very bad for these businesses that are unable to operate the way they would normally operate. And you know they’re having a really tough time. Even though you try to do everything you can to help them, you’re feeling a little bit out of control. Even though it’s not even your personal situation necessarily, you’d love to help them as much as you can and you feel like there’s… No matter what you do, it just doesn’t seem like enough. And then of course on a personal level, you’re trying to do what you can, but at least… At least from my perspective, I feel like at least I have a little bit more control about that. So you’ve got those… Kind of those two levels. You see society really having a big struggling. A lot of people are struggling as a society, and you kind of feel that right, even though it’s not directly affecting you. But at some point, it does.
31:14 David Munck: Yeah, it does. And under the circumstances, there’s really nowhere to hide here. So the question of what the impact is on the individual level. Excuse me. It’s very difficult. And when you were talking I was… ‘Cause you mentioned restaurants. There was an article in… I think it was Apple News carried it, and I think it was… The writer was Lynn Steger Strong who writes for the Guardian as well. But she mentions this other article, which was in the New York Times regarding the restaurant Prune on the lower east side of Manhattan. And all of this stuff is… This restaurant had to close down because of what was going on up there and the owner of it… It’s been around for 20 something years, whatever it is. And she’s talking about the idea that when this happened, she began to realize that she’s always been one month away from disaster despite the fact that she has this… What everyone considered this incredibly successful restaurant. And I highly recommend looking at the article. It’s really quite interesting. And it was what spurred Lynn Steger Strong to write the article about pretending.
32:58 David Munck: And I can’t find it right now, but she was talking about the idea that we’re all kind of pretending under the circumstances. We’re pretending that everything is okay, but underneath surface. We’re trying to… People who can will put on the best face, but fundamentally there’s something very difficult going on that goes to a very deep level for a lot of folks.
33:28 Kurt Baker: Oh, I have to agree with that. I mean, a lot of this really comes to the realization, I think at least, is that you have to understand your own sense of self worth, so to speak, above what other people may think of you. And we had the car example, right? It’s like, “Do you really need a brand new car or do you just need a new car, because you need to show it to somebody else?” The average life span of a car is like seven years, so if you’re keeping a car less than seven years you probably have to ask yourself, do you really need it? That’s just a simple example. But you’re right, I think people sometimes will do things and spend on things that aren’t necessarily for them.
34:09 David Munck: But I think the question for me is can you find value in yourself, having kept the old car, so to speak? And when we talk about old car, we’re probably talking about last year’s model. Right, right, right. So can you find meaning in life, can you find it okay to live with that as opposed to having to externalize by accumulating something that’s maybe beyond your means? But if it’s not beyond your means, it would certainly be a better strategic thing for you to keep the money rather than spend the money, but that’s stuff for a different question.
34:55 Kurt Baker: And that’s a self-fulfilling issue. So, if you’re the person who always has the latest and best of everything, that can get extremely expensive very fast.
35:06 David Munck: Yeah.
35:06 Kurt Baker: And then if you’re the person who’s like, “I can have things that are two or three years old.” The cost of that goes down significantly, if you’re not trying to always have the latest and greatest of every single… And that doesn’t mean you can’t have the best thing of certain things you like, right?
35:20 David Munck: Yeah.
35:20 Kurt Baker: But I think what you’re saying is interesting because you can develop your own trap almost, if you start doing that.
35:28 David Munck: So I have a friend and mentor, a guy by the name of James Hollis who I actually studied with as an undergraduate, who went on to become a world-renowned analyst himself. And he wrote in one of his books, about a gentleman who would go out and buy a new car and the way he characterized it was that once the windshield washer fluid was gone, it was time for a new car.
35:57 Kurt Baker: Oh my word.
36:00 David Munck: Obviously he was a very wealthy guy, but the… Underlying that was this need to sort of surround himself with these physical things, when fundamentally there was something… There was an emptiness there that he was trying to fill by doing these… This level of accumulation. Sorry.
36:24 Kurt Baker: No, I agree, I agree. Yes. Well, fantastic information, we have lots more to come. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’ll be back in a few minutes.
[pause]
36:37 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you’re listening to Master Your Finances. I am Kurt Baker, here with David Munck and he’s been going through some of the very interesting things that have been happening in our society essentially due to the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re all working our way through and how that’s affecting us on an individual basis, as well as on a communal basis. So David I’ll let you pick it up from there because there are a lot of effects happening out there, both positive and negative, which are deep-rooted in some of the issues that we already had happening.
37:10 David Munck: Sure.
37:10 Kurt Baker: If you would like to help us, help us to understand that a little bit better. What’s actually going on out there.
37:14 David Munck: Well, I think one of the things that puzzles me the most, or puzzles me a lot is different people’s reaction to the communal trauma we were talking about earlier, and… Or the individual trauma as expressed communally, right? And we’re all familiar with the celebrations that have taken place, rightly so, of the heroic behavior of first responders and healthcare workers and people who are in the hospitals, hospital workers. And rightly so, celebrated. People are taking their pots and pans. And in the city, I know it happens every 7 o’clock every night, and it’s really a very uplifting thing to be part of. But on the other hand, there’s other people who are experiencing this differently. And there are other people who are on their balconies yelling and screaming at their neighbors. For whatever reasons. And the example I’m thinking of had to do with somebody, a neighbor who was taken out on a stretcher, with… Who had COVID, and apparently the issue was the fact that they were too close for these people and therefore the reaction was anger, hostility. And I guess what I’m touching on is that individuals will process this differently. And I think we’re all getting to see some of that. How it’s playing out, how the various reactions are playing out.
39:02 Kurt Baker: Do you think that’s how… Somehow connected to the anxiety issue we were talking about earlier, and the response they’re having to that and their own anxieties and their own concerns about what’s happening right now? Because a lot of this is really still very much unknown to all of us.
39:15 David Munck: Yeah, and…
39:16 Kurt Baker: We’re working our way through it, but really there’s a lot we don’t know yet.
39:19 David Munck: I think that’s a brilliant question, Kurt. And I think that… Fundamentally, I think that is. If anxiety is defined as constriction of some kind, it is a constriction that is also related to fear. And I think what’s happening in the context of what we’re having to deal with is that this fear is triggering a primal aspect of ourselves that sort of is welling up from the depths and it’s the issue that I try to deal with in therapy and creating a therapeutic relationship that allows people… That brings people to a level of comfort where they can do this type of digging and have them begin to understand what this fear is that is out there. And the expression that I mentioned about not everyone is out there every seven… At 7 o’clock celebrating, right? Some people…
40:28 Kurt Baker: So I think you brought a very valid point is sometimes when we respond to things, I think a lot of times, whether it’s ourselves or another person, I think sometimes we need take a pause and say, “Why are we responding to this? What’s the underlying reason that maybe we’re responding?” Whether it’s somebody else or ourselves. I think that’s valuable sometimes. Because we also have, Why did that person get so upset because somebody was taken out on a stretcher in COVID? Wouldn’t you feel sorry for them? But there’s a real response because there’s some concerns they’re having for themselves. And I think if they understood that, and we understood it, maybe there’s a way to help. I guess, is all I’m thinking. And hopefully we could do better.
41:08 David Munck: I think that’s exactly it. And again, what we’re talking about is fear, what we’re talking about is panic, which is a very individual not communal response. And it has to do with something that’s invisible. We’re talking about a virus. You can’t see it, you can’t quantify it, you can’t put your finger on it, just yet. And the fear, the level of fear is connected in some ways to the invisibility of what’s being presented out there. And that, in many ways, is precipitating this mass suspicion of the other.
41:51 Kurt Baker: I think that’s very true. No, I think it’s true and I think we’re all… As you pointed out, we’re all responding to this different. I remember even early on in this process, is when once we knew it was very serious, some people were of the opinion, “This is nothing, I’m gonna go out and just live my life just like I did two weeks about.” And other people are like, “I’m not leaving my house ever.” And everybody in between. Some people were literally paralyzed where they weren’t leaving, and other… Those are probably two extremes that neither one of them is really pretty good… It was very good. But we’re all on that scale somewhere.
42:25 David Munck: That’s right.
42:27 Kurt Baker: And we all have to understand that everybody else is probably in a slightly different place than we are, and I think we have to at least appreciate that and understand that we’re all responding a little differently based on our own circumstances and those around us.
42:41 David Munck: Yeah, I think that’s it. I go back to this idea of mass suspicion. And some of these thoughts came from a guy… He’s an Italian analyst. A guy by the name of Mario Perini, it’s interesting stuff that he’s done. But he had this very interesting statement to describe the pathological level of fear that some people are experiencing. And he says this disease, this virus, he says we’re all orphans, because the material that it’s stimulating, that it’s bringing up, has to do with a very primal sense of themselves, and that fear is overwhelming to people. And overwhelming is one of those primal fears that everyone walks around with. And depending upon the nature of your own self, your own mastery of self, if you will, getting back to what we talked about in the beginning, will determine whether or not your response to this is pathological or not. We’re all orphans in lacking the protection of mother and father. And in this case the collective, because the collective is broken down as well.
44:12 Kurt Baker: That’s right, ’cause that part is. So that kinda leads me back to maybe what are some things that we can do to help ourselves and to help each other, because I think we have a little ways to go on this, for sure. And maybe we can learn something from it.
44:31 David Munck: Yeah, I think you’re right about that. So for me the question is, what can therapy offer? From my point of view. ‘Cause that’s what I do. And in some ways, therapy is a vaccination against fear, if you will. It’s about rendering what’s unconscious conscious, and being able to manage… Develop strategies to manage in a non-pathological way. And it’s to develop… Developing the capacity of awareness, developing the capacity of consciousness, developing the capacity for thinking beyond fear. So the issue I think that I remind my clients often is that you can’t escape ambivalence, you can’t escape ambiguity, you can’t escape anxiety, in many ways. Anxiety is a part of living. So the question then becomes, “What can we do in the course of our treatment, in the course of our daily lives, to better reckon with these three menaces that stir a lot of people toward pathological behavior?” Substance abuse being another one, which we talked about in the beginning. But the question is, what can we do? And can we re-imagine ourselves, can we re-imagine our relations with others? And when I… With others… I do couples counseling, as well. But, you know, sometimes it’s the beloved that takes the brunt. Right?
46:43 Kurt Baker: Yeah, sure. ‘Cause they’re right there, right?
46:44 David Munck: Because they’re right there in the face of this lock down and it’s a terrible thing. But we may have discussed this in the break, but the numbers are coming out on domestic violence as well, in the context of this stuff. So again, it’s working with people to develop these capacities, to recognize, that maybe we shouldn’t be lashing out at the beloved, whether it’s the kids, whether it’s our spouse, whoever it may be, that in fact, those are part and parcel of the foundation blocks of rebuilding a sense of integration.
47:33 Kurt Baker: No, I think that’s true. And you mentioned this just a few minutes ago, but I thought that was very… For me it caught my ear, so to speak, is to make the unconscious conscious. To better understand. ‘Cause you can’t really solve a problem until you know what it is, right?
47:48 David Munck: That’s right.
47:50 Kurt Baker: You can’t help yourself until you… We don’t know what we don’t know, and if we’re acting a certain way. And I know all couples have gone through this. Like you say or do something, and your spouse responds like, “Why are you doing it that way? You’re offending me.” And you’re like, “Well I’m not… It’s not intended to offend you.” But you’re doing something you think is perfectly fine, but it’s being received in a totally different way than you think it’s being received.
48:12 David Munck: That’s right.
48:13 Kurt Baker: And until that’s brought to surface. You can’t even start to fix it, right?
48:15 David Munck: Yeah.
48:15 Kurt Baker: And once you understand that, you’re like, “Okay, maybe I don’t fix it right away, but at least I understand that okay, it’s problem. Right? And maybe now we could figure out what we might be able to do.”
48:25 David Munck: I got married when I was 26 years old. And I guess at a young age, I had some sense of what that marriage business was all about, and I remember writing in the vows of… For our wedding that essentially being in a relationship with another human being is equivalent to struggle. and suffering involved in this. So the way in which we go about suffering, the way in which we go about struggling in the context of our relations matters. And fundamentally you asked the question, “What can we do?” We can all take a time out, we can all pause and try to put this… Try to master ourselves, if you will.
49:17 Kurt Baker: Absolutely. Any final thoughts, David, before we break? You’ve been… This has been amazing and very very appropriate for what I think we’re all going through right now, and I really appreciate you coming on and talking about really how important all of this is from a… Really from a mental health perspective and for our psyche and financials and how it all really kind of blends together and it affects us individually as well as a community. And there’s a lot going on. And I think if we recognize that that is happening, and maybe there’s some steps that we can take and you’ve been very helpful with that today.
49:49 David Munck: I think… I’m very grateful to you Kurt. And I’m very grateful to have met you and know the work that you’re doing, not just in the financial world, but with the work that your not-for-profit is doing. And that to me is deeply, deeply moving, and I give you tremendous amounts of credit for doing that because fundamentally I think in the course of the work that you’re doing, you’re making the world a better place. And I’m very happy to be here to be part of the discussion that’s required as we all try to figure out where we fit in here.
50:32 Kurt Baker: Well, thanks again David. Again, appreciate it very much. You’ve been listening to Master Your Finances. I can be reached at 609-716-4700. You can listen to this podcast and all the podcasts that we have, by going to MasterYourFinances.us, and remember together we can master your finances so you can enjoy financial piece of mind.

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