Affluenza – Buying your way in or out of trouble?

rich kid

Affluenza – A social condition arising from the desire to be more wealthy or successful symptomatic of a culture that holds up financial success as one of the highest achievements.

People said to be affected by affluenza typically find the very economic success they have been so vigorously chasing ends up leaving them feeling unfulfilled and wishing for yet more wealth. (Source: Investopedia)

I came across this interesting word a good many years ago but it has been popping into my mind more and more recently.

Affluenza is deemed a “metaphorical illness” whereby children or teens who grow up in a privileged lifestyle, perhaps isolated emotionally and developmentally from their parents, feel excessive pressure to achieve both academically and extracurricularly. This can make children feel more isolated than their friends, while at the same time feeling an increase in pressure to perform. The result? Greater depression, anxiety and substance or alcohol abuse compared to their peers.

Affluenza may be a way of trying to fit into an appearance-obsessed society. Equally it may be a response to loss, trauma or stress. It can result in being addicted to alcohol, drugs or food. It could also be a way of trying to feel more in control or finding meaning in life.

Back in my day affluenza was more often than not, referred to as being a spoilt brat. However, these days the negative effect of living in a society where many people are super rich, always wanting newer and more expensive things and not wanting to work too hard for it has become something less of an anomaly and altogether more common place.

verucca salt

You need only ‘google’ a term like ‘celebrity teens rehab’ and you’ll find an ever growing list of young people from affluent backgrounds who are or who have suffered mental health issues.

Some readers may have heard of Ethan Couch.  A teenager from Texas who avoided prison after a psychologist described him as suffering from “affluenza”. His crime? Killing four people and seriously injuring two while driving drunk. If this isn’t the epitome of ‘getting away with murder’ I don’t know what is.

Unrealistic expectations placed on children and teens by wealthy parents is actually leading to mental health problems according to the latest research. Studies have found that children of rich parents are put under so much pressure to perform and to succeed, that they are at an increased risk of mental illness, drug abuse, eating disorders, neuroses and self-harming and even suicide.

Pressure can be applied by parents at a very young age with competition for school places, SATS for 7 year olds, and even pressure being applied in activities that were supposed to be fun! Everyone will have heard the term ‘Pushy Parent’, piling on extra pressure on their children to succeed on the playing field, in the gym, on the stage or music lessons. All of this is forcing children to recognise the need for success very early on.

I watched a few episodes of Channel 4’s Child Genius recently, in particular the final in which the young Rahul Doshi was crowned winner. Watching his father celebrate while holding the trophy aloft was fairly surreal to me, one would have thought it was the father who had actually won the top prize.

So what about children and teens from the other end of the spectrum? Are they exempt from mental health issues related to high expectations and the demands of family and of society? Of course not!

Children and teens today face a huge range of pressures from stress at school, body image worries, early sexualisation, bullying both on and offline and uncertainty about their future after full time education has finished. As a society, we live more individual existences and have for the most part, lost the community aspect of living.

Affluenza is a serious issue, and it takes time to correct, so what can be done?

Hypnotherapy is a wonderful tool that can help clients deal with and combat, the effects of negative thinking, self-depreciation, stress, anxiety, addiction, PTSD, abandonment issues and so much more.

Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy used to reprogram the subconscious mind. When under hypnosis, you put your mind and body into a heightened state of learning, making you more susceptible to positive suggestions for self-improvement or behaviour modification. The goal is to put the subconscious and conscious mind in harmony, which in turn helps give you greater control over your behaviour, emotions and physical wellbeing.

Gail Marra D.Hyp MNCH (Acc) LAPHP is a GHR registered Clinical Hypnotherapist accredited by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, National Register of Psychotherapists and Counsellors and the Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council

10 Harley Street, London W1G 9PF      Tel: 020 7873 2051

The Chilston Clinic, Royal Tunbridge Wells TN4 8RA      Tel: 01892 513535


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