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


Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.


Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.


Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.


Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.


Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp


How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.