Theory[ edit ] In , British psychologist Oliver James asserted that there was a correlation between the increasing occurrence of affluenza and the resulting increase in material inequality: the more unequal a society, the greater the unhappiness of its citizens. To highlight the spread of affluenza in societies with varied levels of inequality, James interviewed people in several cities including Sydney , Singapore , Auckland , Moscow , Shanghai , Copenhagen and New York. In James wrote that higher rates of mental disorders were the consequence of excessive wealth-seeking in consumerist nations. James asserted that societies can remove the negative consumerist effects by pursuing real needs over perceived wants, and by defining themselves as having value independent of their material possessions. These pressures lead to "psychological disorders, alienation and distress",  causing people to "self-medicate with mood-altering drugs and excessive alcohol consumption".
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The very end. How much of the story will be about moments of clarity and grace, kindness and caring? Will the main character - you - appear as large and noble as life itself, or as tiny and absurd as a cartoon figure, darting frantically among mountains of stuff?
And you will have wished it was not your own, though for too many of us the stories and scenes will seem familiar. Affluenza helps readers diagnose the symptoms, understand the causes, and finally find the cures for the disease of over consumption. The news could be more troubling, even so the feeling of relief is tempered by the realization that the rest of life will need to be different.
It would be hard to ignore the wake-up call found in Affluenza urging people to check their wasteful physically and spiritually intemperate consumption. I can only imagine that a person who blows off this book is a person who is numb. Since consumerism acts on us like an anesthetic to genuine life, I bet that people can read this book without being moved by its admonitions.
Too bad. And not me. My short reviews that get published on my blog are not the place to develop subtle arguments. So let me just throw out a few things to consider. I have no idea what the spiritual life of De Graff, Wann, and Naylor looks like.
Perhaps they are Christians, or maybe not. By some of their comments, I suspect they are not conservative evangelical Christians.
And this, from my perspective as anevangelical , is troubling. Disturbing because we do not often hear conservative evangelicals sounding so intelligent and spiritually mature.
The authors of Affluenza have it right. A life worth looking back on is a life that holds the interest of the person who lived it, as well as the appreciation of others. Consumerism in no way - absolutely no possible way - prepares a person to reflect on a life well lived.
This book is a resource. The style of writing is such that it is a quick read, mixing anecdotes, facts, and satire. This appears to be a well constructed and researched book. The end notes and bibliography are worth exploring. And the suggested cures appeal to those who want to do something right now. It programs us to substitute consumption for both citizenship and companionship.
And it tries to meetnonmaterial needs with material goods, a losing strategy.
Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic
Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic. The television program was well received when it aired in , and there was a follow-up documentary the next year, also on PBS. The producers were later approached to turn their research, most of which could not fit into a television program, into a book. The value of this book is that it pulls these and many other ailments together into a readable, approachable, and at times whimsical critique of our quest to have more stuff. Using the disease metaphor, affluenza is looked at in the book through several stages: symptoms, causes, treatment. These and many other topics are presented in clear, brief chapters filled with facts and statistics that will make many readers gasp. The authors include material from other simplicity advocates, everyone from Ghandi to Thoreau to Jesus to Marx to Ralph Nader, so anyone looking for a helpful bibliography on the plain living movement will find most of the seminal figures here as well as lists of organizations and Web sites related to the topic.