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Affluenza - How to be successful and stay sane

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A classic, the book explains why being too focussed on money, possessions, appearances and fame makes us more mentally ill. Travelling around the world, Britain's best known psychologist explored how the affluenza virus was affecting citizens differently in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, China, Russia, Denmark, the United States and England. Using stories from each cou A classic, the book explains why being too focussed on money, possessions, appearances and fame makes us more mentally ill. Travelling around the world, Britain's best known psychologist explored how the affluenza virus was affecting citizens differently in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, China, Russia, Denmark, the United States and England. Using stories from each country and key scientific evidence, he explains the antidotes to the virus.


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A classic, the book explains why being too focussed on money, possessions, appearances and fame makes us more mentally ill. Travelling around the world, Britain's best known psychologist explored how the affluenza virus was affecting citizens differently in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, China, Russia, Denmark, the United States and England. Using stories from each cou A classic, the book explains why being too focussed on money, possessions, appearances and fame makes us more mentally ill. Travelling around the world, Britain's best known psychologist explored how the affluenza virus was affecting citizens differently in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, China, Russia, Denmark, the United States and England. Using stories from each country and key scientific evidence, he explains the antidotes to the virus.

30 review for Affluenza - How to be successful and stay sane

  1. 5 out of 5

    Helen (Helena/Nell)

    I've given this book five stars in the end, although when I was two-thirds of the way through it wasn' t going to get anything like that from me. There were two reasons for my misgivings. First, it was the metaphor. It struck me as too easy somehow -- the idea that affluenza was a virus (he is talking about Selfish Capitalism and its effects on us really) and that there might be 'vaccines' that would protect people. It struck me as a typical psychologist's way of marketing another TV-friendly theo I've given this book five stars in the end, although when I was two-thirds of the way through it wasn' t going to get anything like that from me. There were two reasons for my misgivings. First, it was the metaphor. It struck me as too easy somehow -- the idea that affluenza was a virus (he is talking about Selfish Capitalism and its effects on us really) and that there might be 'vaccines' that would protect people. It struck me as a typical psychologist's way of marketing another TV-friendly theory. Second, it was the lengthy case studies, which started to weary me slightly. Oliver James spends a couple of years of his life (well, it felt like that long -- perhaps it wasn't really) talking to people in the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, China, Russia, Denmark - and there may have been other countries - I'm not quite sure now - about their affluenza symptoms and their life styles. I still think he spends too much time doing the case studies, because he nearly lost me. The book, which was at the side of my bed, sat there stuck in New Zealand until I had to travel for work purposes, which meant a window of time I don't usually have. Also a good night's sleep which I don't usually have time for either: and I read the end, and I loved reading it. Here's the deal. The Affluenza Virus is "the placing of a high value on money, possessions, appearances (physical and social) and fame." These values preoccupy me anyway, I guess, because I work in education and in my country (Scotland) one of the fundamental flaws in the education system which has just renamed itself 'Curriculum for Excellence' is the way it suggests education is something you can pick up in units: the more you have, the richer and better you are. We can't do without the word 'skills' any more. It is indispensable. Skills are everything and we can measure them in units of study. Sigh. Anyway, we seem to have an education system which is full of dissatisfied teachers and learners. Everybody is being measured. Sit down and they will measure your seat. Everything is transparent but nobody sees through the transparency illusion. Nobody values learning unless it has a unit number and a certificate that proves it exists, except that the certificate (ironically) often proves nothing at all. Sorry, back to the book. James talks about the imbalance between our wants and our needs. Our needs he lists as four: 1. the need to feel secure emotionally and materially 2. the need to feel part of a community 3. the need to feel competent 4. The need to feel autonomous - masters of our destinies to some degree. "Virus values", he suggests, "screw us up by conflating what we want with what we truly need." He looks at people in different cultures. The USA is by far the most afflicted. A culture is more likely to be affected by 'the virus' in direct proportion to the degree it is influenced by America: "the more Americanised a culture, the more consumerist it is". The symptoms are measured in distress: depression, mental illness, aberrant behaviour, anger. He is really interesting on China, where the people he interviews are strongly dominated by consumerist, materialistic live styles but they are not actually distressed. Why not? He isn't quite sure. It could be repression. It could be a factor immunising them against symptoms. It could be the way the Chinese regard distress: where we see exhaustion and lethargy as a symptom of depression, they may see this as a physical illness. Basically, affluence is bad for us. It makes us want more and more stuff. And in order to stay affluent, we have to persuade people that the stuff they want is also what they really NEED because that's what makes economies work, which makes people affluent. And miserable . In one chapter, James asks a whole set of affluent people how much more money they would need to feel happy and secure. The people asked are on very different income levels, but they all respond in the same way. Approximately one third more. So hey -- what would you say? Because it is one of those books you read in relation to yourself, no question. And it's terribly topical. As the credit crunch crunches onwards, it is reassuring to read that the prospect of NOT selling your house to move up the property ladder could be your healthiest decision yet. He talks about intrinsic values and the need to find them. Again, that sounds like well-meaning waffle, but this man is not a waffler. He's very precise actually. He suggests that even in your workplace, you may be able to work out which bits you enjoy most and concentrate your energies on those, not on the bits that will lead to approval or promotion -- because that will minimise your distress. How obvious. How clever. Near the end of the book, he talks about playfulness as one of the important human qualities, one of the antidote things to distress. And then he gets much more playful himself. He made me laugh several times (quietly, you understand, not huge guffaws). I loved it when he got really dangerous and laid into Tony Blair and New Labour. I loved his discussion of "gender rancour" and the need to get real. Advice to women: "Part of your getting real is accepting that sex is not everything once children come along. If you end up with a man who does not ring your bell five times a night, then it is not the end of the bloody world." Advice to men: "By definition, your partner needs to be someone you want to have sex with, otherwise there will be no babies, but you really have got to accept that she does not have to be a Babe, that after she's had the babe she will look less like one, and that sex will probably take a back seat for a few years." Oh and (also to men): "Once you have got real and grown-up you should be perfectly capable of pouring your heart out to a woman without having to rip her knickers off or fall in love with her." By the by, the more TV you watch, the more you are at risk from eating disorders. The statistics are irrefutable. Throw out the telly. Read this book. Especially the manifesto that suggests that "following their election, all Members of Parliament would have to spend two weeks caring full-time for a two-year-old." Yesssssss!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Huyen

    I set out reading this book already believing what he tries to say, that materialism is bad and doesn’t fulfil you. But I find this book annoying, full of endless boring anecdotal interviews, confirming what he already decides from the start instead of serious rigorous research. I also suspect he secretly pities his interview subjects instead of feeling compassion for them. This book is a yawn-fest with this tirade of “rich people are horrible, selfish, greedy, materialistic, unhappy workaholics I set out reading this book already believing what he tries to say, that materialism is bad and doesn’t fulfil you. But I find this book annoying, full of endless boring anecdotal interviews, confirming what he already decides from the start instead of serious rigorous research. I also suspect he secretly pities his interview subjects instead of feeling compassion for them. This book is a yawn-fest with this tirade of “rich people are horrible, selfish, greedy, materialistic, unhappy workaholics” while poor people are so much better. I didn’t feel I was learning anything new or insightful from this book. I suspect the world is more nuanced than this. So I decided to quit after 300 pages. Many times, he mistakes correlation and causation, for example: the number of advertisements has gone up in the past 3 decades, while the level of trust among Americans has gone down, so advertising must be the culprit. It is full of over-simplifying generalizations like this. I am also very sceptical of some aspects of his analysis of the Chinese culture to explain why they can be materialistic without being so depressed. Generalizing China using Shanghai, America using New York is at best simple-minded, and at worst insulting to these hugely diverse countries. Also lacking is an account of how this virulent form of Selfish Capitalism arose and what social changes it has brought about. I recently read another book called “The Life of I” about the rise of narcissism which explores this topic more satisfactorily. Another thing that bugs me about him is he seems to be saying that as long as your goals don’t have extrinsic motives to impress other people, then it’s okay, you’ll be happy. It doesn’t matter that your greed ruins the world as long as you find your work fascinating. I simply can’t swallow this. I think happiness is a wobbly overrated concept and there should be higher values to our life rather than our own happiness. There should be objective ideals such as compassion, justice, adventure and truth that we should work towards and happiness comes as a by-product of such pursuits. I don’t know if he gets to explore it because I’m already fast asleep after 300 pages…

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jafar

    Halfway through this book I thought: Why does this guy remind me of the guy who wrote They F*** You Up? I checked the names, and both books have the same author. I don’t have a good memory for authors’ names; otherwise, I wouldn’t have picked up this book given how much I didn’t like the other one. “The Affluenza Virus is a set of values which increase our vulnerability to emotional distress. It entails placing a high value on acquiring money and possessions, looking good in the eyes of others a Halfway through this book I thought: Why does this guy remind me of the guy who wrote They F*** You Up? I checked the names, and both books have the same author. I don’t have a good memory for authors’ names; otherwise, I wouldn’t have picked up this book given how much I didn’t like the other one. “The Affluenza Virus is a set of values which increase our vulnerability to emotional distress. It entails placing a high value on acquiring money and possessions, looking good in the eyes of others and wanting to be famous.” The Virus and its vaccines are the essence of this book, which – mind you – is over 500 pages. While I personally don’t have much problem with his description of the Virus and the problems that it can cause, I though this book was totally lame. James promises “scientific research” in the outset, but he’s already reached his conclusion right from the start. He’s moralizing, judgmental, and pontificating all through the book. What he presents as “research” is mostly long and boring interviews with subjects whom he often (and not so subtly) pities and despises. His politics is grotesquely tainting his “research.” His anti-Americanism is hysterical (it’s amusing to see him treat the number of Starbucks in a country as a measure of mental distress), and his romanticizing of Denmark and all thing Danish is near-comical.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    This book details the virus of 'affluenza' that haunts the modern-day individual. The selfish capitalist societies we belong to have honed in on our ever-increasing desire for the material and use this to their own monetary advantage and our own emotional entrapment. humanity's future is envisioned in all its monstrous bleakness here, unless we begin to accept our condition and learn to control our shallow impulses and derogatory treatment of the self. I found myself agreeing with much of the boo This book details the virus of 'affluenza' that haunts the modern-day individual. The selfish capitalist societies we belong to have honed in on our ever-increasing desire for the material and use this to their own monetary advantage and our own emotional entrapment. humanity's future is envisioned in all its monstrous bleakness here, unless we begin to accept our condition and learn to control our shallow impulses and derogatory treatment of the self. I found myself agreeing with much of the book's beginning section, which detailed the virus giving real-life examples from across the globe. Whilst this was a little repetitive in nature it was still an interesting read. Many other reviews cited this portion as a vast oversimplification, as individual cases were often used to prove his theory of the entire population, which I did feel but it wasn't enough for me to completely disagree with his theory. The central section, however, was far less insightful. What begun as a clever and unique sociological theory soon turned into an unremarkable self-help guide. I found this portion just as repetitive, but with age-old wisdoms rather than with itself. Nothing new was provided here and my interest waned. In what is already a hefty non-fiction this could have perhaps benefited from the earlier oversimplification being provided here, instead.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Affluenza promised to be a much more thought-provoking read than delivered. In honesty, I picked up the book as likely already a convert to the ideas which James is attempting to present in the work - as my role as 'choir member' I merely expected to be perhaps entertained by the sermon. Unfortunately, the book relies far too heavily upon James' own personal opinions about the differences between nations and upon anecdotes of people which he met during his world tour. So, the work ends up soundi Affluenza promised to be a much more thought-provoking read than delivered. In honesty, I picked up the book as likely already a convert to the ideas which James is attempting to present in the work - as my role as 'choir member' I merely expected to be perhaps entertained by the sermon. Unfortunately, the book relies far too heavily upon James' own personal opinions about the differences between nations and upon anecdotes of people which he met during his world tour. So, the work ends up sounding smug and pseudo-physiological. I was frequently annoyed by the gross oversimplifications that Oliver James would throw around about some person he was analyzing. Freudian-sounding generalizations about, for example, how the stock broker's obsession with objects and reluctance to commit was surely a result of a cold and distant mother, left me rolling my eyes. Whereas interview-style journalism can frequently be quite revealing, I couldn't help but feel that James was talking to all the wrong people. The book often mentions how much of a sway advertising has over setting the mindset of the populace, but doesn't really spend much time talking to advertising executives. Instead we get endless quotes from young 20-somethings in Shanghai, or even Danish school girls about their deep thoughts on materialism or how its "just so hard" living with the competitive atmosphere these days. Its not that I am unsympathetic or that I disagree so much as that I frequently failed to see why the interviewees were more qualified to have insight into the issue than I would be myself. There are statistics thrown out here and there, and some of them are revealing. But most of the book is a rather dull recounting of the various pet peeves of people of the world interspersed with a healthy dose of Oliver James' personal opinions.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    A good idea for a book, but so padded with anecdote standing in for research (for which he is so defensive) that it cannot be taken seriously. His narrow diagnosis of the big v Virus of selfish capitalism rolls all of the world's ills to one doorstep (here in the US). But his chapters on the US rely entirely on New York City as his measure for American culture and values. Which is ridiculous and insulting to the nation as a whole. There are some good ideas, some common sense steps mixed into thi A good idea for a book, but so padded with anecdote standing in for research (for which he is so defensive) that it cannot be taken seriously. His narrow diagnosis of the big v Virus of selfish capitalism rolls all of the world's ills to one doorstep (here in the US). But his chapters on the US rely entirely on New York City as his measure for American culture and values. Which is ridiculous and insulting to the nation as a whole. There are some good ideas, some common sense steps mixed into this book, but too much else to wade through to get to them. His love of Denmark is also funny, until he turns on their childcare procedures in a later chapter. So overall, the book has one argument that he has piled high and tried to tie everything to. It is a tottering edifice, not at all convincing and covered up by his too self-assured writing style and relentless use of examples and general stereotypes about particular countries.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dierregi

    This book is about the alleged evils of a virus called "affluenza" and how it can be cured. According to the author, the English speaking world is swept by this terrible virus. The most infected are also the most affluent. Since the richer you are the more likely you are to catch this horrible virus, I am in no danger whatsoever... From the first lines, I started to think that I made a mistake buying this book. The impression was confirmed when I finished the first chapter, where we are told the This book is about the alleged evils of a virus called "affluenza" and how it can be cured. According to the author, the English speaking world is swept by this terrible virus. The most infected are also the most affluent. Since the richer you are the more likely you are to catch this horrible virus, I am in no danger whatsoever... From the first lines, I started to think that I made a mistake buying this book. The impression was confirmed when I finished the first chapter, where we are told the tale of an obnoxious multi-billionaire, who is always dissatisfied with his life, while a poor taxi driver, illegal alien, married with kids, would not swap place with the billionaire, because his life is so happy. It sounds incredibly corny and it is. The rest of book is divided in chapters which follow the same structure: interviews with obnoxious people, all rich, young an beautiful but fatally infected by "affluenza" and then the odd one out, the guy (or gal) who should also been infected but isn't. You may wonder why, and the answer is because of mummy. It turns out that the epidemic of "affluenza" is mainly caused by the fact that women nowadays receive an education and want to work. Once they start working, they become so selfish as to want to spend all their money for useless things, like cosmetics, handbags and larger breasts, rather than just expecting to get married and have children. If they would just stay home and take care of their kids, there would be no problem at all. The author goes out of his way to prove that children with working mothers are nothing short of sociopaths. Surely we must agree... think about the good old days when women used to stay at home... but was people really happier and the world a peaceful place? Think about the Middle Ages, the crusades, colonisation, genocides of entire civilisations, witches burnt at stakes .... To make matters worse, the author also likes to point out how privileged and upper-class his life is. Unfortunately, I do not care if he is used to drinking tea with the queen and went skiing with the king of Siam. I was expecting a serious piece of work about real situations and I found a book about a world that is as foreign to me as Mars, populated by super-achievers perennially depressed, despite the huge amounts of money they make. To conclude, if you want some answers about the problems of life, read some philosophical essays, if you have too much money and are very unhappy get yourself to a shrink, but do not waste your precious money to buy this book. My copy ended straight into the trash and it was the best moment, since the day I started reading it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marianovsky

    This would be a great book if it were no more than 200 pages of a thoughtful critique of modern consumerist society. There are several things that bothered me about this book: - Constant talk about "the Virus", "infected", and "vaccines". I get it, the "Affluenza" title is clever (I really think it is), but that's where all the virus references should stop. In addition, talking about "Virus" and "infected" makes it sound that there is nothing you can do about your distress because it is a "disease This would be a great book if it were no more than 200 pages of a thoughtful critique of modern consumerist society. There are several things that bothered me about this book: - Constant talk about "the Virus", "infected", and "vaccines". I get it, the "Affluenza" title is clever (I really think it is), but that's where all the virus references should stop. In addition, talking about "Virus" and "infected" makes it sound that there is nothing you can do about your distress because it is a "disease" that "happens" to you (for which the author helpfully provides "vaccines"). I find it all really annoying. - The whole process of interviewing people around the world and learning about their distress is a pointless exercise of confirmation bias. The author had already formed a conclusion before he went on these travels, and (of course) the interviews only confirmed is views. There was no detectable "discovery" of any sort. Makes me wonder why he bothered at all (of course, over a year of travelling with the family must have been really nice). - The analysis of what the interviewees say is shallow at best, judgemental and uninterested in what they have to say (they have no legitimacy) at worst. Sweeping generalisations about national characters abound, with a very crude anti-american bias (did it ever occurred to the author that the US has 300+ million people and that NY is not representative of the rest?). But, at the end we're provided with some statistics (including p-values!) to support noncentral claims. It is borderline absurd. - It almost feels as one is reading a self-help book, with the author telling men and women how to feel and what to do to avoid distress. - And so on. Now, there also several things that I liked about this book, among them is a searing critique of marketing in capitalist societies, I think the author is spot on the messages advertising sends and why they are so damaging. I liked the focus on doing what your interests are, etc. I tend to agree with the author on many things, but the delivery falls short and this book is not as good as it should have been.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stringy

    I don't want to give a star rating for this, as I didn't finish it so it seems a little unfair. But in spite of generally agreeing with the idea of Affluenza (have read similar books by Hamilton/Dennis and one based on a US tv series), I just didn't like the author's style. He quotes statistics, but then draws unsupported conclusions from them. I felt like writing "correlation doesn't equal causation!" in the margins every time he made sweeping generalisations based on anecdotes or tiny details I don't want to give a star rating for this, as I didn't finish it so it seems a little unfair. But in spite of generally agreeing with the idea of Affluenza (have read similar books by Hamilton/Dennis and one based on a US tv series), I just didn't like the author's style. He quotes statistics, but then draws unsupported conclusions from them. I felt like writing "correlation doesn't equal causation!" in the margins every time he made sweeping generalisations based on anecdotes or tiny details of a larger statistical area. And I felt that he had very little sympathy for the people he interviewed for the anecdotes, even though he thought their problems came from their upbringing. Given that I've got a huge to-read list right now, I decided to cut my losses and move on. Other people may feel differently about it, and I hope they get something of value from reading this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ^

    This book could usefully be subtitled ‘Consumerism and why it’s bad for us and bad for Society’. But that would not be nearly as neat, eye-catching and memorable as ‘Affluenza’. Oliver James writes with great observation and thoughtfulness. This is not a book to be read cover to cover in minimal time. This reader sought to match thought to thought with the author, and then to think beyond that: an interesting exercise in itself, yet a worry latent with wondering just how many people are actually This book could usefully be subtitled ‘Consumerism and why it’s bad for us and bad for Society’. But that would not be nearly as neat, eye-catching and memorable as ‘Affluenza’. Oliver James writes with great observation and thoughtfulness. This is not a book to be read cover to cover in minimal time. This reader sought to match thought to thought with the author, and then to think beyond that: an interesting exercise in itself, yet a worry latent with wondering just how many people are actually capable of deep personal changes of which they’re unaware that they need to make if they too are to enjoy happier and productive lives; so that we may all contentedly live, debate, work, and make love in that warmer, happier, openly friendlier and productive society.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Imogen

    I couldn't even read the first 100 pages of this book, and I hate not finishing books. But between the dire writing style, the smug tone and the occasional casual misogyny I just couldn't do it to myself. I'm sure there are interesting ideas and facts buried under the laboured effort to coin new phrases, but someone else will need to excavate them. I couldn't even read the first 100 pages of this book, and I hate not finishing books. But between the dire writing style, the smug tone and the occasional casual misogyny I just couldn't do it to myself. I'm sure there are interesting ideas and facts buried under the laboured effort to coin new phrases, but someone else will need to excavate them.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dave Catherall

    I read this book back in 2008, when I was busily running around trying to do everything at work, not really succeeding, and not having time to do much else either. Although it's not a particularly scientific effort (there are a couple of scattergrams showing emotional distress v income inequality in the appendices), it is an interesting read, and points out some of what should be important in our lives - friends, family, doing things because you enjoy them rather than to impress other people, bu I read this book back in 2008, when I was busily running around trying to do everything at work, not really succeeding, and not having time to do much else either. Although it's not a particularly scientific effort (there are a couple of scattergrams showing emotional distress v income inequality in the appendices), it is an interesting read, and points out some of what should be important in our lives - friends, family, doing things because you enjoy them rather than to impress other people, but which can be pushed to the back of the queue by the pressures to be seen to be doing better than others, have a better car, iPhone, possessions, husband, wife, house whatever it is. All of those are ultimately just stuff (if you just have the husband/wife for trophy/bragging purposes), and don't really make us any happier. Although I've never been particularly materialistic, the amount of time I spent at work made me less able to devote much time to other equally important things, to the extent that it took over my life, and caused me to leave in the end through stress. Since then I've done lots of different things, met lots of new people, and have an altogether more balanced and interesting life. Although I'm still getting to where I really want to be, I've been a lot happier in the process. So although I wouldn't go as far as to say this book changed my life, I could relate to what it was saying. It's a reminder to not worry too much about the material things in life, although everyone needs to have at least their basic needs met, which is not happening for too many people right now, but that's a different story altogether...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Donal Keady

    (2.5 stars) The author makes some interesting observations, and some of the real people that he interviews are truly disturbed and disturbing. As the title suggests, the author compares the relentless (but ultimately empty) pursuit of material posessions to a contagious disease, "Affluenza". He takes this idea further by observing how certain countries and societies are less affected by this disease. Within the social fabric of these places there may lie the answer to avoiding the problems eviden (2.5 stars) The author makes some interesting observations, and some of the real people that he interviews are truly disturbed and disturbing. As the title suggests, the author compares the relentless (but ultimately empty) pursuit of material posessions to a contagious disease, "Affluenza". He takes this idea further by observing how certain countries and societies are less affected by this disease. Within the social fabric of these places there may lie the answer to avoiding the problems evidently caused by Affluenza, namely a "vaccine" against what he refers to as Selfish Capitalism. Personally, I found the whole affluenza/vaccine metaphors wore thin on my patience. There's a huge amount of information in this book, and it's all very interesting, but thankfully I don't feel a part of the rat race. And I don't feel the author needed to beat me over the head with the word Affluenza every three or four pages (it's in big letters on the front cover, after all!) Some sections, like Ch.9 for example, are thought provoking. Doubtless, this book may be a much-needed awakening for some.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jayne

    I started off loving this book but by about half way through I changed my mind. It started to read a little like a sociology essay written by a sixth form student. The same point being made over and over and over and over, shaping evidence to fit the brief and ignoring many other important factors that cause "emotional distress" in modern life. Towards the end of the book the Author started to apologise for being condescending... it didn't need to be pointed out... he could also of apologised fo I started off loving this book but by about half way through I changed my mind. It started to read a little like a sociology essay written by a sixth form student. The same point being made over and over and over and over, shaping evidence to fit the brief and ignoring many other important factors that cause "emotional distress" in modern life. Towards the end of the book the Author started to apologise for being condescending... it didn't need to be pointed out... he could also of apologised for being "preachy" and at times a little bit nasty about his case studies. Interesting though and worth a read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rik

    Loved the whole idea of this book, and agree with its overall premise that the love of money is the route of all kinds of evil - it corrupts us and leaves us empty. This book encouraged me to ignore the lure of possessions and to focus on relationships.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Oh my, what a tedious book. How did he stay awake long enough to write it? How did I stay awake long enough to read it? A 2000-word essay would have done it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    Apparently, if you're a Westerner you want to be rich and famous and have more possessions than your neighbour. Whilst I found this an intriguing read, I thought it was a load of tosh. Apparently, if you're a Westerner you want to be rich and famous and have more possessions than your neighbour. Whilst I found this an intriguing read, I thought it was a load of tosh.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Infini

    The title caught my eye in the local Borders the other day - I'd gone to look for Zakaria's Post American World which they still can't find any. I suppose I'll have to pop into Kinokuniya in the city to buy that. Anyway, noted that there were two books with the same title in fact - one was American and written like a workbook and the other was this tome by British psychologist Oliver James. Amazon's reviews are more or less what I'd expected, and it looks as though I might consider going back to The title caught my eye in the local Borders the other day - I'd gone to look for Zakaria's Post American World which they still can't find any. I suppose I'll have to pop into Kinokuniya in the city to buy that. Anyway, noted that there were two books with the same title in fact - one was American and written like a workbook and the other was this tome by British psychologist Oliver James. Amazon's reviews are more or less what I'd expected, and it looks as though I might consider going back to pick up the American version. Why am I reading these books, you may ask, when I disposed of the majority of my 'worldly goods' on leaving the US last year? In fact, after a decade of residency there, the only piece of furniture I've kept is a leather topped writing table and its accompanying chair. I was trying to make sense of what we've been calling 'mainstream consumer culture' as an alternate to the Bottom of the Pyramid value system and mindset that we've begun to observe and identify. This was something that Dave had mapped out in a brainstorming session in San Francisco earlier this year. Its the basis behind the value gap we've noted. Basically, producers immersed in mainstream consumer culture (elements of which include easy credit, buy now, pay later, style obsolescence etc) tend to consider the BoP as being very similar or the same as their existing consumers; they simply have less disposable income. So the value propositions of the products, services, programs introduced for lower income markets, particularly in the developing world, are still based on elements of the value system prevalent in global consumer culture. However, since the majority of the BoP has either never been the target of mainstream media and advertising or only on the periphery, their values (not to mention the limitations of their unpredictable and irregular incomes) have been relatively uninfluenced by the messaging and the value propositions behind them. "Throwaway and replace" being one of them. When the value proposition of the seller has little or no resonance with the value system of the target market, it will be ignored. Take the fact that the mobile phone has rapidly become a fashion item in the developed world and the upper income strata across the world. The average replacement time for a phone is 9 months. Compare that to the culture of repair, refurbish and reuse, often until the end of the product's life among the BoP in the developing world. From Jan Chipchase's "Cultures of repair, innovation", I've bolded some phrases here. But in the spirit of the Future Perfect let's start with a very basic question - why do these informal repair cultures exist at all? What is so different between London and Lhasa or Helsinki and Ho Chi Minh? The informal repair services that are offered are quite simply driven by necessity - highly price sensitive customers cannot afford to go through more expensive official customer care centers and even if they could their phones are unlikely to be covered by warrantee - having been bought through grey market channels, been sent as gifts from friends and relatives abroad, or were locally bought used, second or third+ ownership. In many cases these users cannot afford to be without their mobile phone, not in the social sense of being out of touch (which is valid enough), but in many instances because their livelihoods depend on it. On the supply side there is a ready pool of sufficiently skilled labour, ready access to tools, components and above all knowledge. When the seller's value proposition - in the form of their products and services, their advertising and communications - fails to bridge the gap to match the values and mindset of the intended audience it leads to failures in the marketplace or at best, ad hoc adoption and mediocre sales figures. There are no real successes. There are exceptions of course, Nokia, Tata, Coca Cola being some of them. Designing from the user's point of view, in this case, becomes far more challenging. The environmental conditions, the mindset, the quality of life, much less the disposibility of income are so vastly different from the average mainstream consumer in the developed world that there remains a gap. And while field research allows us to observe the differences, until now its been for specific products or services or an industry. It raises the question "Are there are any general principles that can be identified?" And the place to start, imho, is by looking into mainstream consumer culture - whether its roots, through the books of Vance Packard - I particularly recommend The Waste Makers - or by current day writing on the pervasiveness of the gerbil wheel of consumption. The next 4 or 5 billion customers are not going away any time soon, and this understanding of what value propositions resonate with them will go beyond helping Nokia or some such sell another few million of their products. If understood well, the insights so derived might even be able to improve the efficacy of various programs that focus on social and economic development, including what is now beginning to be called 'design for social impact'.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Adelyne

    This book is just over 500 pages long, and about 400 pages too long for me. The premise is great, caught my eye and I was really interested in reading about the topic despite the heavy tome which made it difficult to carry around. James starts off with a bit of a background to himself, his family and how he came to writing this book – which I thought was semi-interesting as it involved his description of why he chose this style of moving about to different cities in the world over the course of This book is just over 500 pages long, and about 400 pages too long for me. The premise is great, caught my eye and I was really interested in reading about the topic despite the heavy tome which made it difficult to carry around. James starts off with a bit of a background to himself, his family and how he came to writing this book – which I thought was semi-interesting as it involved his description of why he chose this style of moving about to different cities in the world over the course of just under a year and asking similar questions to different cultures to see how the answers differ. I don’t necessarily disagree with his conclusions or with the ideas that he is trying to get across, but not too far into the book his style simply got to me. I was stuck on a long flight at the time and soldiered on with lack of anything better to do at the time, and frankly just got more and more infuriated with his over-generalisation of observations, lack of research which came across as a lack of respect and the general pessimism where it felt at one point that I’d be accused of being a Selfish Capitalist if I just bought a tissue to wipe my nose after sneezing. I would be able to accept it if he got small / minor things incorrect, things which may not be obvious to a traveller, but seriously if you want to make mention to the first Prime Minister of Singapore, figure out what his name is and how to appropriately refer to him (I’m not Singaporean for the record, but the nation island’s founding father’s name is Lee Kuan Yew, where Lee is the family name and Kuan Yew is the given name. Anyone who has spent the amount of time in a Chinese-cultured society like James claims he has should be able to figure out that the person is either referred to by his title and family name e.g. Mr Lee, or simply by the given name e.g. Kuan Yew. In no universe is he ever referred to as “Lee Kuan”, except of course in the realms of this book). He then goes into a bit of a ramble with what he refers to as a “Vaccine”, most of it relatively philosophical (I’m looking for practical solutions, I can’t possibly change how an entire culture behaves!) with few examples of simple “try this” methods. Interestingly too, despite his attempts to portray otherwise, I felt a bit like James was propagating the affluenza virus onto his one child at the time, although midway through he describes how his wife was expecting their second. I thought this took away the value of him interlacing his own experiences / travel with his family with the ideas that he was trying to present, which would have been a fantastic device to lighten up the topic a little. After awhile it felt like I was reading for the sake of reading, perhaps a little bit of me wanted it to get better (he switches themes several times during the book, which led me to hold out hope that he could perhaps pull off the latter parts a bit better), but no such hope – just more of the same. 1.5 stars, but I did get to the end so I’m giving 2 on Goodreads.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Danièle

    It's a book with a central idea that I find instinctively plausible: the neoliberalism and consumerism rampant in many developed countries - and most particularly the US and UK - is making us ill. However, I found the book largely unsatisfactory as the argument kept shifting, and is presented as based largely on interview data, or anecdotes if you will. It's not clear how James found the people he spoke to in the various countries he visited, but I can't escape a sense that he would have been lo It's a book with a central idea that I find instinctively plausible: the neoliberalism and consumerism rampant in many developed countries - and most particularly the US and UK - is making us ill. However, I found the book largely unsatisfactory as the argument kept shifting, and is presented as based largely on interview data, or anecdotes if you will. It's not clear how James found the people he spoke to in the various countries he visited, but I can't escape a sense that he would have been looking for 'people who are a bit X', and so would ultimately fit his narrative. And the narrative keeps shifting. We are all distressed because we are trying to earn too much money and buy too much stuff; no, it's because we keep chasing status; no, it's because we're trapped into chasing achievement; no, it's because our parents were rubbish and didn't allow us to develop our own goals. Yes, all of these things can cause distress and they are quite possibly related in many ways, but can they all this easily be grouped together under the 'affluenza' heading that James has created? I'm really not convinced. Illustrating the 'everything is affluenza' position is the questionnaire at the beginning of the book. There are 16 statements, and you are invited to state whether or not you agree with them. I agree with 2. The blurb then says that if you've agreed with *any* of the statements, you are infected with affluenza. Any. Not 'more than a third', say. No sliding scale. Any of these statements will indicate that you have affluenza. By contrast, the next questionnaire, about how distressed you are, does not consider you are distressed if you score less than 20 out of the available 50 points. There is one thing in the book that I found useful and will take to heart. James describes a difference he sees between being authentic and being sincere (which potentially comes down to semantics, but let's focus on the concepts rather than the words). Authenticity is here described as being oneself, being real, and having a focus on being, feeling and doing for the mere purpose of expressing oneself. Sincerity refers to the expression to others of eg passionate beliefs, of feeling and doing as a form of projection to other people. It's not necessarily about feeling deeply, but about conveying a depth of feeling to other people in order to back up a persona or provide an explanation for actions. I can recognise this difference in performative selfness and true selfness, and being at a point in my life where I'm doing a lot of thinking about what I actually want to do, this was a very helpful reflection. But other than that, for all its promise of being a book squarely in my sweet spot in terms of interests, I didn't find much to enlighten or entertain.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Wright

    The more I reflect on Oliver James’ ‘Affluenza’ the more it pisses me off. Initially I was hooked. The case studies and relevant research (references of which are listed in a separate book) form a lively narrative and James discusses the titular ‘virus’ with humour and just the right level of objectivity (initially). Affluenza as a concept isn't brand spanking new – everyone knows money and status are usualy fleeting and hollow goals – but at least this book doesn't promise anything overambitiou The more I reflect on Oliver James’ ‘Affluenza’ the more it pisses me off. Initially I was hooked. The case studies and relevant research (references of which are listed in a separate book) form a lively narrative and James discusses the titular ‘virus’ with humour and just the right level of objectivity (initially). Affluenza as a concept isn't brand spanking new – everyone knows money and status are usualy fleeting and hollow goals – but at least this book doesn't promise anything overambitious, like ‘I can make you happy.’ In fact, James establishes in his introduction that he regards happiness as ‘chimeric and temporary,’ a much healthier approach when compared to the heap of pop-psychology titles available today. For me the book deteriorates into James’ personal psycho-vendetta when we begin his political manifesto. This manifesto is bizarrely specific to Britain considering how global the previous 400 pages of case studies are, having read his accounts from Russia, China, UK, USA, Denmark, New Zealand and so on. His suggestions to force every member of parliament to care full-time for a two year old for two weeks and to eradicate estate agent offices in order to make room for accommodation are verging on absurd (what if the MPs already have kids or hate kids or are just terrible with kids? If someone tried to force me to look after a two year old I’d run to the Scottish border screaming in terror. Also, what’s he got against estate agents? And why has he not realised that getting rid of them would simply empty up yet more commercial premises for shops to open…I'm genuinely confused). There are other small bugs that I want to brush away (why call full-time fathers ‘mothers’? Why repeatedly refer to ‘infected’ women as Bridget Jones – we got the reference the first time) but nothing tops James’ often-entertaining hatred of Tony Blair. He lays it on like an artfully-aimed explosive bowel movement intended to smear his enemy to death. Hey, I agree with what James is saying. It’s just that if I wanted to learn extensively about the fact that Tony Blair is a shit, I’d read a book with ‘Tony Blair’ in the title. So, overall two stars for charisma and entertainment value. And maybe for the occasional snippet of handy advice as well.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Eugene

    Aside from the rather eye-catching title and a smattering of somewhat related evidence, Oliver seems like someone who genuinely believes in what he writes. From the mundanely conducted interviews to his blanket generalizations, he is a man who firmly believes that this plague will eventually jeopardize and decompose modern emotional well being from the inside out. The problem lies with what he believes in and how he conveys it. While initially convincing and riveting, readers would soon realize t Aside from the rather eye-catching title and a smattering of somewhat related evidence, Oliver seems like someone who genuinely believes in what he writes. From the mundanely conducted interviews to his blanket generalizations, he is a man who firmly believes that this plague will eventually jeopardize and decompose modern emotional well being from the inside out. The problem lies with what he believes in and how he conveys it. While initially convincing and riveting, readers would soon realize that Oliver is quick to judge but slow to reflect. His over enthusiastic dot-joining and over-eager finger-pointing demeanor eventually becomes tiresome to put up with; almost akin to babysitting a child who is not quite ready to formulate his own hypotheses yet doing it anyway just because he can. I personally found it increasingly off-putting, further curbing the amount of trust I was willing to invest in his so-called research. While his observations on the Virus phenomena is true to a large extent, surely a boring, more empirical method would have been more effective than this paperback rant on selfish capitalism. Being from Singapore, I found his conception of the country to be grossly inaccurate and mildly offensive. While he did manage to give slightly more details than Google due to his trip here, his warped perception of the country led me to realize that he was not out to gather evidence for inquiry, he was out to prove his hypothesis right. Searching only for specimens that "fit the bill" and ignoring other important people and factors that caused our plight (or as Oliver would have it, "blight"), is a blatant act of ignorance and stereotyping. Which, needless to say, is shamelessly unbecoming for a man of his age and his supposed calibre. I picked up the book expecting a good, fresh perspective on the plagues of modern society. But halfway through the only plagues that became apparent were the author's obscenely biased preconceptions through which he judges the world.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Helen Mulligan

    I found this book infuriating to the point that it often put me in a bad mood while reading it. Amazing really - given that I wholeheartedly agree with the central idea of the book, which is that, many societies (largely focused on Western society, although China and Singapore were heavily featured to)are overly obsessed with material wealth, fame, and status (appearance to others) to the exclusion of all else in life, including health, happiness and long term sustainability of the planet/ human I found this book infuriating to the point that it often put me in a bad mood while reading it. Amazing really - given that I wholeheartedly agree with the central idea of the book, which is that, many societies (largely focused on Western society, although China and Singapore were heavily featured to)are overly obsessed with material wealth, fame, and status (appearance to others) to the exclusion of all else in life, including health, happiness and long term sustainability of the planet/ human race. While, obviously, a certain amount of material wealth makes us happier and healthier, anything over that does little to improve, and in fact seems to damage our health and happiness and certainly damages the health of the human race. And while capitalism has lifted thousands out of poverty, it is no longer functioning in a way that is doing so - instead it is deepening inequalities and leading to a place that is less and less nice for people to live in (even the super wealthy!!). So given that I agree with him, how did he make me want to argue with everything he said? I think there are plenty of other reviews on this book that summarise this for me. The random anecdotes he uses as 'evidence' of his points, which in itself is ridiculous, but particularly when often, even those don't seem to relate to what the point I thought he was trying to make. The way that often I'd be reading a page and hink I'd missed something because I couldn't follow and he seemed to be jumping around all sorts of, at best loosely, and at worst unrelated thoughts and ramblings. And there were over 500 pages of it. And his conclusion!! We all need psychoanalysis in order to sort out our childhoods. Blah - I was determined to get through it in the hope that someone who seems to share some of my ideologies might finally make do himself a favour and say something in a way that didn't just make me dismiss him as a thinker - but I reacher the last page (phew) before that happened sadly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    I thought it was an interesting and cogent analysis overall, the book suffers from some key cultural blindspots. For starters, Sydney, Shanghai, and New York don't necessarily represent all of Australian, Chinese, and American values, respectively. The book has an obvious bias towards English-speaking cultures and the male, heterosexual worldview. Furthermore, while the Danes are held up to considerable scrutiny (I found the section on the nursery / childcare particularly good and enlightening) a I thought it was an interesting and cogent analysis overall, the book suffers from some key cultural blindspots. For starters, Sydney, Shanghai, and New York don't necessarily represent all of Australian, Chinese, and American values, respectively. The book has an obvious bias towards English-speaking cultures and the male, heterosexual worldview. Furthermore, while the Danes are held up to considerable scrutiny (I found the section on the nursery / childcare particularly good and enlightening) and praise, I wondered two things: what of the other cultures' childcare practices? We don't get much detail beyond Singaporean examples and Chinese cultural norms. The other misstep is the breadth of the "mind-tour:" where, for instance, is Austria, which has 1 year parental leave for each parent? In fact, in recent years, many companies and countries have instituted better policies in this regard. Finally, the recommendations at the end were alright (the paid parental leave was the most pragmatic), but the rest were very biased and far too complicated - often without explanation. For example, banning the use of "overly attractive" models in marketing. How on earth could you police that? People's tastes differ widely. I think that the book does a decent job of cataloguing the woes of "Selfish Capitalism," but that it would be a lot more interesting if, as the author states, it were pitched more in support of capitalism and how to make it work better for people's intrinsic needs rather than superficial wants. The merging of this book with the concepts of "Nudge," for example, would have been an interesting way to identify both the problem and suggest more-subtle manners in which to bend capitalism to the will of the collective good. A bit less prosthelyzing and some more interviews would have been welcome, as one cannot truly tell if the proverbial wool is being pulled over one's eyes in a single interview.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Choong Chiat

    This book provides a thought-provoking, candid, incisive and insightful account of how, plagued by consumerism and materialism, individuals living in contemporary society, especially those living in countries which are English-speaking or have been influenced by Americanisation, are experiencing or have become especially susceptible to emotional/psychological distress or dissatisfaction. This, as the author argues, is a result of people becoming fixated with pursuing external/material goals for t This book provides a thought-provoking, candid, incisive and insightful account of how, plagued by consumerism and materialism, individuals living in contemporary society, especially those living in countries which are English-speaking or have been influenced by Americanisation, are experiencing or have become especially susceptible to emotional/psychological distress or dissatisfaction. This, as the author argues, is a result of people becoming fixated with pursuing external/material goals for the wrong motivations. For example, the author criticises the manner in which people are eager to work in high-paying jobs not because of they enjoy the work but because of the high salaries and/or high socio-economic status these jobs offer. However, although he may not have intended it, it would appear that the author, at different points in the book, seems to think himself superior to the various Affluenza-infected individuals he interviews. Indeed, especially in the chapter about childcare, the author appears to give a sense of himself being a more-knowledgeable-than-thou, if not a know-it-all, expert. Also, while the author mainly identifies what he terms as "Selfish Capitalism" as being the primary cause of Affluenza, he however does not really give an account of how this particular variant of capitalism emerged and entrenched itself in contemporary society. Ultimately, it is the author's main argument that there needs to be a mindset change away from "Selfish Capitalism" to what he terms as "Unselfish Capitalism". Perhaps an aspect of the latter would be for individuals to grasp the truth and wisdom of the saying that contentment breeds happiness (知足常乐).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Phil Whittall

    Money can't buy happiness, is a truism (although some disagree). Oliver James sets out to show how consumerism or affluenza makes us deeply unhappy as a people. Essentially it breaks down like this, the more we have and the more we're encouraged to have the more likely we are to end up depressed and the more likely it is that our relationships will fail (for a review by an economics professor read this). James interviews people from US, New Zealand, Australia, China, Singapore, Russia, the UK & D Money can't buy happiness, is a truism (although some disagree). Oliver James sets out to show how consumerism or affluenza makes us deeply unhappy as a people. Essentially it breaks down like this, the more we have and the more we're encouraged to have the more likely we are to end up depressed and the more likely it is that our relationships will fail (for a review by an economics professor read this). James interviews people from US, New Zealand, Australia, China, Singapore, Russia, the UK & Denmark and compares findings. The more your economy is like that of the UK and the US the more likely you are to be infected by the Affluenza virus. And compares how we bring up children, educate them (he's particularly strident about the dangers to young children of group nurseries), beauty, work and so on. As such it deals with anecdotal evidence and can be quite simplistic. You can draw only so much from talking to a few depressed middle class types. His answers are all about replacing virus values with intrinsic ones, having goals which aren't about consumption, seeing through the dangers of advertising etc... It comes as no surprise to me that consumerism is likely to affect our mental health and evidence suggests there is a level at which income makes little difference to overall levels of contentment or happiness yet still we strive on. It's a book that sold well and James is a good writer, with humour and sometimes compelling stories even if not all his solutions are very convincing. It's quite a long book, spinning things out and losing pace and momentum as a result. A considerably shorter book would have put the argument in a much more coherent and cohesive form and made for a more compelling book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jonty Rushforth

    I'm still thinking this book through after finishing it a few days ago. Not that it's that amazing, just that it has a lot of interesting perspectives. Oliver James's last book (they f*** you up) was all about how your experiences in your first four years of life impact your later personality and development. In this next work he uses similar tools to look at how the wider society impacts the mind, and largely focussing on how what he calls Selfish Capitalism increases the level of mental illnes I'm still thinking this book through after finishing it a few days ago. Not that it's that amazing, just that it has a lot of interesting perspectives. Oliver James's last book (they f*** you up) was all about how your experiences in your first four years of life impact your later personality and development. In this next work he uses similar tools to look at how the wider society impacts the mind, and largely focussing on how what he calls Selfish Capitalism increases the level of mental illness in a society. Be warned, he's quite anti-American (as a shorthand for a certain type of capitalism), and he's a bit of a reactionary (wants the UK government to prevent any foreign ownership of the UK media, or in fact of any property in the UK!), but his politics is actually less important than you might think. In the end, this book is an exhortation to develop intrinsic values rather than consumerist values, and to focus on family, friends and true joys in life. Worth a read if you're stuck in the rat race and wondering where it's all going.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nickie

    You know, I suddenly realised I couldn't be bothered reading this. It seems too journalistic to be properly scientifically and accurately psychological. All of these references to the 'virus' of materialism and all of the claims about human behaviour which aren't without truth, but aren't backed up with any meaningful research either. In the first 30 pages he contrasts the life of a stock broker and an illegal immigrant taxi driver. The stock broker is wealthy, lacks empathy and treats women tre You know, I suddenly realised I couldn't be bothered reading this. It seems too journalistic to be properly scientifically and accurately psychological. All of these references to the 'virus' of materialism and all of the claims about human behaviour which aren't without truth, but aren't backed up with any meaningful research either. In the first 30 pages he contrasts the life of a stock broker and an illegal immigrant taxi driver. The stock broker is wealthy, lacks empathy and treats women tres badly; the immigrant is low on money, but likes people and is true to his wife, therefore happy. Well this may be true, but what of the stock brokers who do care about their friends and families; and what about the strapped illegal immigrants who sleep around and would stop at nothing to get more money? I've only read 30 pages, so I'm not in a position to write off the book. The above issues are probably cleared up later on, but it all was feeling a bit facile and not of much use to me, really.

  29. 5 out of 5

    MargeryK

    Read this book. Been waiting to read this book for a couple of months after requesting it from the library. Was initially inspired to read it by Radio 4's 'Book Club' and dallied with the idea of buying it, but after reading the blurb in a bookshop, I decided borrowing it would be the most authentic option. After all that, I saw it in a charity shop in Forest Hill for £1 and had to get it. What a refreshing read. James argues that there are three traits that make someone immune to the emotional di Read this book. Been waiting to read this book for a couple of months after requesting it from the library. Was initially inspired to read it by Radio 4's 'Book Club' and dallied with the idea of buying it, but after reading the blurb in a bookshop, I decided borrowing it would be the most authentic option. After all that, I saw it in a charity shop in Forest Hill for £1 and had to get it. What a refreshing read. James argues that there are three traits that make someone immune to the emotional distress brought about by Selfish Capitalism, and these are; vivacity, authenticity and playfulness. It also helps if you live in a non-English speaking world. Buy what you need rather than what you want. Enjoy motherhood and spend time with small children. Try to do activities which give you 'flow'. It finishes with an imaginative chapter with some brave ideas. The one I liked best was the idea to nationalise estate agents. Oliver James is my new hero.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Generally it's not a bad read. I think the author's overall call for more authenticity, vivacity and playfulness in the face of endless consumerism is right on the money. In many ways the book feels quite prescient as more and more people seem to be reject material consumerism. In other ways it's getting a little bit dated now. The political chapter especially has reference to politicians that were undoubtedly big names in their time but really date the book (when was the last time I heard of Dav Generally it's not a bad read. I think the author's overall call for more authenticity, vivacity and playfulness in the face of endless consumerism is right on the money. In many ways the book feels quite prescient as more and more people seem to be reject material consumerism. In other ways it's getting a little bit dated now. The political chapter especially has reference to politicians that were undoubtedly big names in their time but really date the book (when was the last time I heard of David Blunkett?). The US-bashing also feels very 2000s to me. I thought it was ironic near the beginning when the author criticises US self help books. Affluenza is clearly a self help book. Speaking of self help, one of the author's political antidotes to Affluenza is to have more direct democracy. Given Brexit I can't imagine such advice will be going down so well at his London dinner parties these days! I did skim the chapters about parenthood, and perhaps that's where the gold was.

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