Affluence Disorders; What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker

New words and phrases enter our lexicon regularly, often in response to new and highly specific inventions and behaviors, such as ‘social media’ or ‘sexting.’ The big picture still tends to be summarized by the older concepts that capture unchanging basic human impulses, words and phrases like ‘animal spirits’ or ‘ennui.’

The new phrase that has come to my attention, one that captures a new trend in human behavior, is ‘affluence disorders.’ Often called ‘diseases of affluence,’ or ‘affluenza,’ these are afflictions that come as the result what was previously thought to be the universal good of greater wealth and material well-being.

The list of ailments that fall under this heading is a long one. There are the obvious, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. These ailments are the result of too many cheap calories. Then there are the less obvious conditions, which include cardiovascular disease, high…

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