Affluenza Season?

A teenager gets drunk, slides behind the wheel of a vehicle, and ultimately crashes in an accident that kills four people. His attorneys argue to the judge that the teenager has “affluenza,” a term describing the negative and infectious effects of consumerism and the pursuit of “more” on individuals. In response to the attorney’s diagnosis, the judge gives the teenager probation, and NO jail time. Probation, when four victims of this crime are dead. Currently, Affluenza is not a real, DSM-V approved disorder – it’s just a description that one psychology expert uses to describe “spoiled brats” as he calls them; yet, it is accepted as “science” by some in society.

As a play on the words “flu season,” clearly, it is affluenza season right now in the USA. I hope you take your affluenza shot soon before you catch the so-called disease, too. Obviously, I’m being facetious with these comments. It’s true, though, that our culture is searching for any explanation (aside from sinful choices and idolatrous hearts) for bad behavior; and in this case, criminal behavior of a teenager.

I touched on it above, but what does it mean to have affluenza? CNN explains in an online article about the sad case of a rich young man who got drunk and had a car crash killing 4 people. One quote from the article is revealing:

Is “affluenza” real? Or is it a way for coddled children and adolescents to evade consequences for their actions? Not surprisingly, “affluenza” does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, the “psychiatric Bible.”

Affluenza implies that unrestrictive and affluent parenting causes a child to become a self-centered adult. A few generations ago, it was called “spoiling” your kids and teaching them to be “brats.” Today, it is a disease that one somehow contracts after experiencing parental neglect and parental excess.

In my Addiction-Proof Parenting book, I call affluenza by my own description: the Entitlement Mentality. This mentality is rooted in pride and love of self. Love of self is always at the root of addictive choices. The Bible would call affluenza a sin stemming from a love of self and a violation of both the 1st and 5th Commandments: to have only one God you serve, and to honor one’s parents through obedience (of course, it is hard to obey parents who require zero obedience with zero rules).


What saddens me is that in a court of law, attorneys use one person’s idea of a made-up mental disorder called affluenza, originally meant as a descriptor of selfish behavior, as a primary reason for their defense. On top of the attorneys’ actions, we have a judge who rules no jail time for the teenager’s sinful choices. Seriously, this is a real-life situation and not made up.

What is true is that this new mental disorder, affluenza, has as much scientific data behind it as many of the psychological disorders in the DSM-V. When you study the history of the DSM, you will find that psychologists tied to the pharmaceutical companies meet to vote on which disorders to put into the newest version of the DSM. Where’s the science? (Find out more about psychology as a pseudoscience by watching this non-Christian, YouTube video: The Marketing of Madness)

The Bible speaks to affluenza, but calls it a sin, not a disease. It is a behavioral problem of willful choices, or the lack of choices, not a disease. In this specific instance, there are many sinful choices involved: the sin of the parents due to the lack of biblical parenting (Eph. 6:4) and sin of the teenager due to selfish choices, getting drunk, and killing 4 people (Eph. 5:18).

If you haven’t read Addiction-Proof Parenting yet, see why Dr. Tedd Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, endorsed it. Addiction-Proof Parenting will clearly explain drunken choices and the real cause of affluenza. My intention in writing the book was to encourage parents to do biblical parenting, so as to foster the mind of Christ in their children instead of the mind of an addict. Any parents, no matter how old they and their children are, can benefit from this book to gain insight into the nature of Christ and the nature of mankind. The Bible offers us truth that will set us free when we embrace and obey it by His grace!

-Mark Shaw (emphasizing how the Word of God diagnoses the real heart of addiction and offers the hope of the Gospel)


Abigail Tucker
I began my internship at Vision of Hope in July 2013. I grew up as a missionary kid in The Gambia, West Africa and graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago last spring. I have a heart for women who are hurting, I desire to bring glory to God by helping them grieve and handle their suffering Biblically in a manner pleasing to the Lord. My life verse is Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” It is a joy and honor to serve and love the ladies of Vision of Hope.