TARRANT COUNTY, TX - You'd be hard pressed to find scientists working toward a cure for 'affluenza.' Let's be serious. Is it even real? Can being too privileged actually affect your judgment?
Houston-licensed psychologist Dr. Debbie Grammas says yes. She explains, "The child can learn that because I'm privileged, I can get away with more or the rules that apply to other people don't apply to me." That can lead to substance abuse, as it did with Ethan Couch, the infamous 'affluenza' teen.
It can also lead to anxiety and depression. Research shows those disorders are two to three times more likely to affect affluent kids. "Sometimes these kids don't get the attention that they need," says Grammas, "and so they might engage in other harmful behaviors such as cutting as a cry for help."
And it's not just children of the rich that suffer. Any child can be too spoiled. "What's really important is that parents set boundaries with their kids," says Grammas. "And all kids will balk at boundaries and act like they don't want them, but deep down, they really crave for them. It actually makes them feel safe."
Tonya Couch has admitted she has trouble disciplining her son Ethan, a terrible mistake as a parent, says Grammas, "If you don't discipline a child, they don't learn right from wrong."
And so Ethan Couch sits in custody in Mexico, fighting deportation. His mother was brought back Thursday to a Tarrant County jail cell. It's easy to label her one of "The Worst Parents Ever" as D Magazine did, but if you overindulge your kids to the point they never learn right from wrong, you might just find yourself walking in her shoes.