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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Jan 5, 2020

“My intent behind that was to startle people into thinking about how normal so many of the underpinning psychological elements of fraud and the relationship between deceiver and deceived is, and to uncover people’s misunderstanding of people who commit fraud  as necessarily some radical other.”


Description: Steven S. Rolfe welcomes Alexander Stein, PhD who is a psychoanalyst and Principal in the Boswell Group, serving as a confidential advisor to CEOs and senior management teams. He is the founder of Dolus Advisors, a consultancy specializing in detecting, mitigating and resolving challenging human factor disturbances, including fraud, corruption, executive misconduct and the human element in cybersecurity. Dr. Stein is widely published and cited in the business press and varied industry publications including Financier Worldwide, the Journal of International Banking Law and Regulation, Asset Recovery Watch, FraudNet Report, and the Wall Street Journal, and he is currently a regular contributor to Forbes writing on the psychology of leadership and misbehavior in business. He is a frequent speaker and panelist at conferences focused on fraud, corporate ethics and compliance, and cybersecurity and technology. He has also published many essays and book reviews in psychoanalytic journals including the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.


Key takeaways:

[3:45] Dr. Alexander Stein talks about some of his significant career transitions.

[9:31] How can a psychoanalyst leave the office to have an impact on institutions, their leaders, the decisions they make and the effect they have?

[10:58] Dr. Stein educated himself about how institutions function and malfunction.

[13:02] Dr. Stein talks about how he wrote his first article about the psychology of leadership.

[15:30] Overcoming the simplification of complex issues by addressing the root causes.

[17:40] Dr. Stein addresses the conflicts leaders were facing in his earliest interventions with small business owners.

[20:56] The resistance encountered when identifying as an analyst and going into the business world.

[22:14] Confronting the misunderstandings regarding who a psychoanalyst is and what a psychoanalyst can do.

[23:25] Dr. Stein talks about the beginning of his work in fraud and asset recovery.

[27:34] Why is everyone a fraudster?

[29:06] Dr. Stein shares a case example of his work with fraud in large enterprises.

[33:40] Understanding of the fraudster and the victim.

[34:48] The particularities of economic crime.

[36:35] Having empathy for the victim.

[40:27] Dr. Stein shares his work as a psychoanalyst in  the area of cybersecurity.


Mentioned in this episode:

IPA Off the Couch


Recommended Readings:


A Few minutes with Alexander Stein [interview]


Elon Musk's Fateful Tweet: A Lesson About Impulses and Paying Attention


How, then, do we stop the fraudsters among us? by Martin Kenney


What Corporate Boards Really Need to Consider When Looking for a Replacement CEO


Reparation and Redress: Ethical Solutions to Graceless Governance


Often, The Best Compliance Presentations Are After The Compliance Presentation