What is Affluenza? Meaning, definition, explanation


Affluenza describes an upbringing and growing up of children and adolescents in a world of material surplus, but emotional underprovision. This means that children and adolescents have all their material desires fulfilled by their parents, but they have not been brought up by their parents and their parents have hardly cared for their emotional needs.

Affluenza in german: Wohlstandsverwahrlosung

The german words for “affluenza” are “affluent neglect” or “wealth neglect”.  In german: “Wohlstandsverwahrlosung“.

The German words show the meaning of the word “affluenza” very precisely: it is about the negative consequences of material abundance and bad or weak upbringing as well as bad emotional education.

Affluenza: No rules, no boundaries, no character

Affluenza is a form of psychological neglect. By this is meant that the personality and character of wealth neglected (young) people has little positive development. These young people have had little to no character-building experiences, such as frustration, deprivation, disappointment, and/or rejection. They are accustomed to having all their desires met and being able to do whatever they want. As a result, their conscience is poorly developed, they have problems with rules, and they have little sense of guilt. They have not learned empathy – that is, compassion for others.

Children who suffer from affluenza grow up with no boundaries, no rules, and few if any values. They can do whatever they want. They don’t care about fines for offenses because there is enough money to pay fines or to hire lawyers to avert the fines or convert them to fines. In a legal system where their parents’ money can buy them off from penalties, those penalties become ineffective.

Children who suffer from Affluenza – and probably don’t even know it – have never had to fight for anything in their lives, struggle or stand up to others. They have grown up with the proverbial golden spoon and in a bubble where they hardly notice poverty and violence.

Emotional needs are unmet

Affluenza children result, from too much material abundance and emotional undersupply. What is meant by this? Children have psychological needs in addition to material needs, such as:

  • Confidence
  • stimulation
  • Understanding
  • appreciation
  • love

In the case of children who suffer from affluenza these needs have been met little or hardly at all by their parents, so that they have not been able to form a secure bond with their parents and experience emotional affection. This is compensated for by luxury, which initially comes from the parents, but later is further pushed by the children. (The luxury is an attempt to fill the emotional void).

Affluenza children are spoiled children

Affluenza usually affects the children of rich parents, but also children who come from the middle class. Their parents do not take care of the upbringing and training of their children’s emotions, but let others do it – if at all. Emotional attention is given to these children by changing caregivers, such as nannies or tutors, who deal with them and deal with them. Through education in boarding schools and elite schools, these children are imprinted on wealth and status symbols. Displaying their wealth is very important to them.

Affluenza children tend to be selfish.

These children fill their inner emptiness with debauchery, shopping, and putting themselves on display. This can lead to psychological disorders such as depression or anxiety.

The blame for affluenza is usually placed on the parents, who desire a child but treat it more like a status symbol and leave its upbringing to others.

What helps against affluenza

This is where parents come in; if they want to prevent their children’s from affluenza, they have several options:


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  • Show the child boundaries.
  • Reprimand the child in case of misbehavior and explain what is allowed and what is forbidden.
  • Pointing out to the child that others are not doing as well as he or she is.
    Engaging with the child.
  • Saying no. Parents must have the courage to say “no” to their child as well, and then they need the stamina to endure the protest.
  • Take responsibility; guide children
  • Don’t give in.

Parents who educate their children make sure that those children feel feelings of gratitude, empathy and humility.

About the term affluenza

The term “affluenza” is composed of two words:

  • “Affluence” means prosperity
  • “Influenza” ist an other word for “flu”.

Thus, affluenza refers to a disease state that has arisen due to material prosperity.

Examples of affluenza

  • Graduation parties that escalate
  • Drunk minors racing around in expensive cars
  • Speeding through inner cities in expensive cars
  • Showing off with expensive cars, purchases, jewelry,….

Rich Kids of Instagram

“Rich Kids of Instagram” (RKOI) collects and posts photos of rich kids showing off their wealth and abundance. (The rich kids mostly pre-published the photos themselves via Instagram).

Topics include:

  • Private Jets
  • Laying on a bed of bills
  • Expensive purchases
  • Expensive cars
  • Big houses
  • Large and debauched parties
  • Expensive suites
  • Lots of possessions
  • Expensive gifts
  • Putting yourself on display

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