BOOKCASE : Affluenza

• Oliver James • Vermilion • $39.99

I reviewed significantly smaller book by the same name for these pages back in July 2005. This latest examination of the “virus” that is infecting the struggling middle classes has the topic in common but is delivered differently. The Affluenza reviewed couple of years back dealt with the spread of the disease in Australia. Affluenza Mark II is rather more global treatment, rendered by British psychologist and writer Oliver James.
James travelled to eight far-flung cities, including Auckland, to report on the spread of the possessions plague that besets us. Our scramble for wealth, status, things of questionable worth and eternal youth is causing depression, anxiety, substance abuse and personality disorders, many of which are amusingly encapsulated in Desperate Housewives and more.
The author searched, so he said, for people “in the hope of finding what causes Affleunza” and suggestions about how to guard against it. I’m not convinced he delivers many answers but his explanation of the condition makes, as with the earlier Aussie-based version, interesting reading. At 340 pages it takes more dedication to digest however and probably doesn’t tell any reasonably open-eyed observer of life much she doesn’t already suspect – with some personal apprehension no doubt.
Reg Birchfield

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