This page provides published and unpublished psychology and wealth articles, papers and newsletters about the psychological issues surrounding Wealth and Affluenza such as sudden wealth syndrome, health and wealth and the psychology of success. We hope you will enjoy reading them and will be happy to hear from you.

Articles:

Lami, R., (2007), Affluenza and its impact on resisting pressure of keeping up wit the Joneses, Worth Magazine, NY, USA

Lami, R., (2005), Affluenza Cocktail: Money, Power and Gender, Private Wealth Management, Campden Publishing, London, UK

Lami, R., (2003), Family Business: A case Study, Private Wealth Management, Campden Publishing, London, UK


Lami, R., (2003), ‘Affluenza and its affect on the family’, Family Business Magazine, BDO Stoy Haward, June, London, UK

Lami, R., (2003), ‘Affluenza’, A Wealth of Solutions, Issue 2: June, Ansbacher, London, UK

Lami, R., (2002), ‘Brawling Brothers’ a Case Commentary’, Family Business Review, The Family Firm Institute Publication, USA. 

Lami, R., (2002), Understanding the Concept of Coaching in the area of Wealth Management, Private Wealth Management, Campden Pub., London, UK

Lami, R., (2001), Coaching for Improved Performance, Risk & Rewards, October, London, UK

Lami, R., (2001), Heirs and Grace, Business Age, October, London, UK


Heirs and Graces

Less is more, say the spiritualists. However, for many an inheritor, the opposite is true. While it is difficult to generalize, in many cases the more financial security they are given, paradoxically, the less emotional security they seem to have. Their external life may appear solid and well furnished, but inside, they frequently harbour debilitating concerns about self worth, shame, guilt, fears, failure, inadequacy, responsibility and ironically even survival. Societies assumption that material success guarantees happiness merely exacerbates these concerns. 


These concerns usually develop as a result of parent-child relationships. A common issue is the conflict between the parent's desires and the child's. The parents expect their children to follow their expectation, and often use their money as a blackmail mean. The parents 'encourage' the children to follow a certain career path, or to join the family business. Without considering their children's personality, desires and needs. As a result many inheritors develop complexes around love and money, a feeling of dependency and lack of control with regard to life choices. In many instances I observed how disconnected are inheritors from their self and their true desires. Many wealthy parents have set up their children life without taking into account all these rudiments.


Dr Doolittle, a film played by Eddie Murphy, illustrates one of these issues that inheritors face. Although the character in the film does not come from an affluent family, the psychological dynamics he experienced in his relationships with his father are similar. Eddie Murphy plays a child who has a gifted ability to understand animals' language. However his father denied him from using his unusual senses and forced him to follow a more 'conventional' way of living. So, the child grows up and becomes a traditional medical doctor, detached from a critical part of his self. Until his unique powers are revealed again as a result of an accident he is involved in. At this point he is afraid of himself and thinks that he may be affected by a mental illnesses. At the end, however, Dr Doolittle overcome his fears and uses his gift in a positive way.  

So a key role for parents is to recognize that the child has his or her own independent path to follow. Independently, though, the parents need to prepare children for the opportunities and pressures presented by the wealth they will inherit and how to cope with these. If many children who come from wealthy families develop problems around inherited wealth it is because they are not prepared to handle it. Financial matters are above all not discussed within the family and heirs are at complete shock when, on their 21st birthday, they learn that they have inherited a large trust fund. 

The bewildered response to the new freedom offered by an inheritance may lead to denial of their money, shame or guilt. With no material need to work, the heir may feel lose of direction and motivation in life. Where the heir is in a job, they may give it up all together. Recognizing the new opportunities presented by the new circumstances, the inheritor may feel swamped by choices, leading to relinquished responsibilities: lavish spending and in extreme cases alcohol and drug use. 

There is no magic formula for how to address these problems, and each individual is unique and has a different set of personal issues. But I have found that a two-pronged approach is most effective: one working on the personal level and the other focusing on practical financial aspects. 

At the personal level the primary objective is to explore with the individual the underlying concerns and issues. Employing a variety of counseling and coaching methods and exercises to solve them. This may take the form of either face-to-face or a phone conversation. Where possible, these may involve the family through inclusive workshops, discussions or even outdoor bonding exercises. 

The above support is often best supplemented by helping the inheritor develop practical skills to manage the new wealth. This may include focusing on creating effective communication between the inheritor and the wealth manager. Sometimes the focus of the client is with precisely this person - the banker, or trustee, for example. I also recommend other organizations that focus on providing specific training in managing investment and understanding financial markets, such as the Swiss-based organization Loedstar. Separately I encourage clients to engage in charitable or philanthropy work, developing self-worth through helping others. 

Unfortunately, only a few of those who are experiencing difficulties with their wealth have the confidence to approach a professional. Not only are people generally too embarrassed to ask for help in unraveling their feelings. Inheritors suffer the double stigma, since their problems are caused by wealth, which supposedly should be make them happy. It is crucial for people to understand that a professional can offer guidance without imposing decisions, accept the client as he is, without making judgments and above all, listens in a way that provides the client with clarity in realizing the way forward in the maze to happiness. 

Copyright, Dr Ronit Lami, 10/09/2001
Published in Private Client Magazine, October 2001 Issue 



Affluenza and Inheritance

"How to handle wealth - Making money is one thing, passing it on, is another. How prepared are heirs to handle wealth and its trappings?" 

One of the reasons for not being able to handle wealth is known as 'Affluenza'. 

Affluenza, by its simple definition, is an unbalanced relationship with money/wealth, or the pursuit of it. This can manifest itself as: shame, guilt, anger, fear, rampant materialism, hoarding and/or all manner of addictive/compulsive behavior. "The psychological dysfunctions of Affluenza are generational - passed from parent to child" (Jessie O'Neill). 

Abundant wealth has a way of separating heirs from the grist of life. For some inheritors this separation manifests as a painful inability to identify their real needs and longings or to connect with meaningful work or occupation. Others find it difficult to establish authentic and trusting friendships, whereas some simply cannot handle their inheritance. However there are ways to overcome these issues. One way will be working with the children and their parents

and enabling them to change their relationship with money. In many cases it is the parents' attitude to money, or the lack of education on money issues, that causes the children to lose their inherited money. Heirs need to learn from early stage both how to handle and how to relate to their money. The learning cycle, in the main, should focus on 2 levels:


1. Psychological [i.e. behavior, emotions, spirituality]
2. Financial [family offices, etc.].


This can involve different criteria, for example, charity projects, academic achievements, professional advice, etc. The education should start early in a child's life with the 'small' things, like parents focusing their awareness on how they behave towards others. For example, holding the door not only for people they know or admire but also for the cleaner or the gardener, being patient, giving way to a driver in your lane, etc. There is a famous term in psychology coined as 'modeling'. It suggests one way of learning is by observing role models. The most important role models for children are their parents. A child learns by modeling the parental behavior in every aspect of life. Thus it is vitally important for parents to pay careful attention to their own behavior particularly in the smallest 'unimportant' things. Another part of education is to get involved in charity work. Emphasizing offering assistance to those in need. This will reinforce learning by modeling and will contribute to an increased value of oneself as a leader and contributor to society rather than 'a trust benefit person', as one heir described himself. The latter manifest symptoms of guilt, shame, and rampant materialism. The former ensures that heirs can develop the tools to value themselves, their lives and the money they possess, putting it into good use and keeping the flow of money in their society.

Copyright Dr. Ronit Lami, Director, Affluenza and Wealth Psychology, May 2001


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