Justin Bieber seemingly has caught late state affluenza. Affluenza is the rich man’s disease. It became world-renown when the judicial system allowed a young man named Ethan Couch to kill four people, yet avoid jail time. Couch’s attorneys argued their client’s case by saying that affluenza takes place when a person becomes too rich to really understand the consequences of their actions. This definition appears to fit Bieber perfectly, except he is not 16 anymore.
Apparently the term affluenza is not as new as many believed. It became popular in the late 90s when Jessie O’Neill wrote a book entitled, The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence. O’Neill is the granddaughter of one of the past presidents of General Motors. A Florida psychologist, Dr. Gary Buffone, said since the book became popular affluenza has been used to describe a condition in which children from rich families have a sense of entitlement and as a result make excuses for irrational behavior, are irresponsible and often experience alcohol and drugs.
In O’Neill’s book she points out the problems of the rich along with symptoms and causes. Her definition of affluenza is a bit more simplified; she says it is a dysfunctional relationship with wealth, money or the pursuit thereof. O’Neill is a licensed therapist who shares stories of triumph and struggle based on countless hours of interviews and research that she’s obtained through her own affluent friends and clients. She wrote this book as a manual for anyone desiring a more balanced relationship with money. The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence goes deep to show why the American dream has failed. O’Neill says it is a clarion call for the nation to redefine wealth as a reflection of the heart, not as a measure of money.
In reality, Bieber’s case of affluenza falls under the definition Buffone offered as opposed to O’Neill. This 19-year-old pop star has been on an excursion of arrests and alleged criminal charges. Last year Bieber was labeled as an average teen growing up in the public eye as his team continued to make excuses for him. This year Lucian Grainge, head of Universal Music Group, said he is very concerned about Bieber. Universal Records is the label that made the young star the global magnet that he is.
Grainge said he has been concerned for months because Bieber needs help. He has vowed as a company to give him all the support they can in order to take some of the pressure off the star because it has become imperative that the singer gets an intervention. No doubt Grainge remembers the pain of losing another Universal client, the late Amy Winehouse, to drugs and alcohol.
Bieber flew to New York for the 2014 Super Bowl and in hopes of joining the party scene which was to follow. Allegedly he was turned away from three parties before sneaking into the back entrance of the Maxim bash.
Just a couple of weeks ago Bieber was charged with driving on an expired license and resisting arrest after allegedly drag-racing illegally after a nightclub visit. Officers said Bieber confessed that he had smoked marijuana, taken prescription medication and consumed alcohol before he got behind the wheel of the car. Bieber is pleading not guilty but if affluenza does not prevail he could face at least six months behind bars.
Grainge said the teen heart-throb is now in need of an intervention however, countless others are hoping this has not come a little too late. Bieber’s behavior leading up to 2014 seemed to be a warning of what was to come, a host of legal difficulties and arrests.
Mary Greshem, Atlanta psychologist, said too often in wealthy families kids have a lot more time and resources for impulsive behavior. They do not have enough limits or established boundaries; instead they have more money and therefore greater access to powerful cars, alcohol and drugs. Affluent families also have the finances to afford quality defense attorneys for their children when trouble surfaces.
Seemingly Justin Bieber has a bad case of the rich man’s disease identified as affluenza. The primary message affluenza sends to rich kids is money and privilege has the power to replace consequences.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)