Patricia Annino Quoted in Forbes – Is Affluenza Real?

Affluenza,  Forth Worth Texas TeenPatricia Annino was recently quoted in Forbes when considering an interesting situation.

A 16 year old who killed four people while driving drunk after stealing alcohol from WalMart was sentenced to probation after his defense team argued he suffered from “affluenza” a malady that affects people who come from affluent families.

Is affluenza real? To answer that question Forbes Contributor, Greg McNeal decided to research the term, and found quite a few references to it in legal literature. The consistent theme in the literature is that affluenza is not a disorder per se, but rather a term used to describe rampant consumerism or materialism (although some authors referred to it as a “disease” or “malady” with quotes to indicate skepticism about the technical nature of the term).  It’s also fascinating to note that most references to the term come from tax lawyers and estate planners.

The most prominent author citing the concept of “affluenza” was none other than U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. In a 2004 article in the Washington University Law Review, then Professor Warren noted (internal citations omitted):

Economist Robert Frank claims that America’s newfound “luxury fever” forces middle-class families “to finance their consumption increases largely by reduced savings and increased debt.” Documentary filmmaker John de Graaf and Duke Economics Professor Thomas Naylor explain in Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, “It’s as if we Americans, despite our intentions, suffer from some kind of Willpower Deficiency Syndrome, a breakdown in affluenza immunity.” They assert that Americans have a new character flaw–“the urge to splurge.” Economist Juliet Schor echoes the theme, explaining that American families are buying “designer clothes, a microwave, restaurant meals, home and automobile air conditioning, and, of course, Michael Jordan’s ubiquitous athletic shoes, about which children and adults both display near-obsession.”

Warren seems skeptical about the concept of affluenza, and consistent with her other writings, believes that “affluenza” and rampant spending myths are barriers to regulation of the financial industry. She concludes, “So long as Americans can be persuaded that families in financial trouble have only themselves to blame, there will be no demand to change anything. In order to get on with the difficult business of making America once again safe for middle class families, the Over-Consumption Myth must be laid to rest for good.”

Warren isn’t the only author writing about affluenza. In a tax planning guide, author Patricia M. Annino writes:

Paul Comstock, a noted author in the field of private foundations, coined the phrase: “Affluenza” for a malady common to children of affluent families. This Affluenza is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms: distorted view of money; lack of connection between work and reward; lack of self-discipline; lack of motivation; guilt; low self esteem; and feelings of incompetence.

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Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  Annino recently released an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime.  To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,