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‘Affluenza’: Is it real?

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(Image Credit: A Texas teen claims "affluenza" rendered him blameless in a fatal DUI crash.

(CNN) – Attorneys for Texas teen Ethan Couch claimed that his “affluenza” meant he was blameless for driving drunk and causing a crash that left four people dead in June.

Simply put, Couch, 16, claims that his condition stemmed from having wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for him.

Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him Tuesday to 10 years of probation but no jail time, saying she would work to find him a long-term treatment facility.

But Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the crash, said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” “There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day. The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can’t buy justice in this country.”

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.”

But the term highlights the issue of parents, particularly upper-middle-class ones, who not only refuse to discipline their children but may protest the efforts of others — school officials, law enforcement and the courts — who attempt to do so, said Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University.

“There are families where very, very few limits are set at a time when they should be,” she said. By age 16, she noted, it’s too late: “The horse is out of the barn.”

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  • jamison-jones

    Aint no such thing as ‘affluenza’!!!.. a 16 yr old son of ‘rich’ parents, gets drunk, rides around and kills 4 people in a drunken stupor with no jail time!!..Now the old adage, MONEY TALKS’ is real!!..Unfortunately it still works that way!!..In the courts, police and sheriffs department its the ORDER of the day!!!. I truly feel for the victims of this CRIME. But for me KARMA is something else!! The Attorneys who represented this boy need to feel something akin to what these families are going thru..outrageous!!! the judge in this case needs to be reprimanded. Period..

    enough said.

  • jamison-jones

    look, this kid STOLE the liquor to begin with!!..i don’t think the parents are solely to blame here. Their only problem’ is that they have $$$ and the attorneys, judges, police, investigators all collude to get a slice of their pie!!…had it been any other kid, well, it would have been another story line. All the law saw was $$$. THATS HOW IT WORKS UNFORTUNATELY!!!..

  • selaws

    This is B——T! If parents feel & practice this way of raising their children, then the parents themselves should be tried & held accountable for whatever crimes their children committ. Including financial Compensation and/or Imprisonment! We all should be accountable for our actions one way or another.

  • Leigh

    Unbelievable. How sad for the victim’s family. This kid has no punishment for drinking and driving and killing 4 innocent people. If MONEY wasn’t involved, this kid would be in prison.
    It will only be a matter of time- his “affluenza” will strike again. Unbelievable. Our country and court system is so messed up. God forgive us.

  • stac

    what is the monetary limit of ‘affulenza’? can i say ‘i make 1 million a year, so i am too rich to have rules?’ to some people, $200,000.00 is alot of money, so they think they are rich. can they use the same defense? rich or not, he took 4 peoples lives and him nor his family have no guilt of that.

  • Joyce

    If this child has affluenza he should be treated for it. The best way to treat him for it is in jail where he will learn what it is like to be without and be with others who are without. He will learn how others live.

  • Sue

    This man talking about this facility I am sure is making a freakin bundle of money. Of course je recommends it! This spoiled brat can get anything he wants there. Can’t see his parents͵ no alcohol͵ etc.-what a crock! He killed 4 people and he go to the spa vacation! This is inbeliebable! Money can buy pretty much anything. Four people are dead and no one pays- except to a facility who loves to help the rich- disgusting!!!

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