‘Affluenza’ – a portmanteau or blend of the words ‘affluence’ and ‘influenza’ – is said to be a ‘virus’ caused by a combination of consumerism, property fever, and the battle of the sexes, resulting in consumer debt, overwork, waste, environmental harm, psychological disorders, alienation, and distress.
Over the past decade or so, a number of books have been published under the title Affluenza. The word first appeared sometime between the 50s and the 70s, taking off in the 1990s following the broadcast of the American documentary of the same name, and the subsequent book by John de Graaf, David Wann and Thomas Naylor in 2001. They define ‘Affluenza’ as:
‘a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.’
Like many novel neologisms or coinages, the term is not without controversy. At least one psychologist wants to ‘eradicate this word from our vocabularies’.
So how can you know if you have ‘Affluenza’? And how can it be treated – or immunised against?
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