What is ‘affluenza’? Lawyer defends rich DUI teen who was too spoiled

spoiled kid
Spoiled children tend to not learn impulse control.
Credit: Colourbox

Affluenza is today’s buzziest word after an attorney used the diagnosis to defend the actions of a North Texas teen who killed four people while driving drunk. A Fort Worth juvenile court judge sentence Ethan Couch, 16, to only 10 years’ probation Tuesday after killing four pedestrians.

Couch’s defense attorney argued that he should not get the maximum 20-year prison sentence because of his diagnosis of “affluenza.” Psychologist Gary Miller said Couch, who comes from a wealthy family, suffered from “affluenza,” according to WFAA. So what is this mystery affliction? Miller said it means not understanding the link between behavior and consequences as a result of getting coddled.

But the American Psychiatric Association said this diagnosis does not exist, and that there is no such diagnosis in its most recent manual published in May, reports the AP.

David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of “Your Brain at Work,” told Metro he had never heard of the term “affluenza” used that way before, but that it is true people who are coddled as children lack impulse control later in life. “Self-control in adults requires practice in childhood,” he said. “These people are more likely to experience serious kinds of addictions. They’re more likely to have less self-control in any context.”

When asked if there was a difference between being spoiled and having “affluenza,” Rock admitted, “It’s the same thing probably. If you’re spoiled or you’re never having to manage your emotions or control your emotions or reactions and you always get what you want, then you’re also not building that impulse control.”

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark


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