Cover image for Affluenza : the all consuming epidemic
Affluenza : the all consuming epidemic
1st ed.
Publication Information:
San Francisco, CA : Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2001.
Physical Description:
xvi, 268 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
General Note:
"Based in part on the PBS television programs "Affluenza" and "Escape from affluenza."
Symptoms. Shopping fever -- A rash of bankruptcies -- Swollen expectations -- Chronic congestion -- The stress of excess -- Family convulsions -- Dilated pupils -- Community chills -- An ache for meaning -- Social scars -- Resource exhaustion -- Industrial diarrhea -- The addictive virus -- Dissatisfaction guaranteed.

Causes. Original sin -- An ounce of prevention -- The road not taken -- An emerging epidemic -- The age of affluenza -- Is there a (real) doctor in the house?

Treatment. The road to recovery -- Bed rest -- Aspirin and chicken soup -- Fresh air -- The right medicine -- Back to work -- Vaccinations and vitamins -- Political prescriptions -- Annual check-ups -- Healthy again.
"In chapters with titles like 'Swollen Expectations' and 'A Rash of Bankruptcies,' Affluenza uses the whimsical metaphor of a disease to tackle a very serious subject: the damage done -- to our health, our families, our communities, and our environment -- by the obsessive quest for material gain. The authors examine the origins, evolution, and symptoms of the affluenza epidemic. But more importantly, they explore cures and suggest strategies for rebuilding families and communities and for restoring and respecting the earth"
Added Corporate Author:
Added Uniform Title:
Affluenza (Television program : 1997)

Escape from affluenza (Television program : 1998)


Material Type
Shelf Number
Item Note
Book 306 DEG 1
Book 306.0973 DEG 1
Book 306.0973 DEG 1
Book 306.0973 DEGRAAF 1 .SOURCE. LOW
Book HN60.D396 2001 1
Book HN60.D396 2001 1 .SOURCE. ING,70085,11/01

On Order



affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.

We tried to warn you! The 2008 economic collapse proved how resilient and dangerous affluenza can be. Now in its third edition, this book can safely be called prophetic in showing how problems ranging from loneliness, endless working hours, and family conflict to rising debt, environmental pollution, and rampant commercialism are all symptoms of this global plague.

The new edition traces the role overconsumption played in the Great Recession, discusses new ways to measure social health and success (such as the Gross Domestic Happiness index), and offers policy recommendations to make our society more simplicity-friendly. The underlying message isn't to stop buying--it's to remember, always, that the best things in life aren't things.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"Affluenza" is more than a clever pun. De Graaf argues that overconsumption is a disease whose symptoms include overload, debt, anxiety, and waste, and he warns of its pathological impact on society and the environment. De Graaf produces documentaries for television. Much of the content in this book was part of a 1997 PBS special with the same title. That show attracted more than 10 million viewers, was widely rebroadcast throughout the world, and is available in video format. De Graaf followed up with a second television special, Escape from Affluenza. He admits that "television, even at its most informative, is still a superficial medium." Therefore, he recruited Thomas Naylor, an economist and author of Downsizing the USA (1997) and more than two dozen other books, and David Wann, author of Biologic: Designing with Nature to Protect the Environment (1994), to provide more depth and offer more examples, more evidence, and updated data. The three explore "affluenza's" symptoms in depth, look for causes, and recommend treatments and cures. --David Rouse

Choice Review

In the world of truly silly books, this one takes the organic cake. Unfortunately, just as the authors want to make the case that Americans are being duped at every turn by sinister forces of crass consumerism and economic expansionism in a valueless, disposable society, the nonsense they themselves peddle will find a broad, sympathetic appeal among the uncritical, adoring eco-liberal public. Based on the 1997-98 two-part PBS series Affluenza and Escape from Affluenza, the book trots out every familiar shibboleth--Americans are shopaholics driving themselves into literal and ethical bankruptcy as they work themselves to death at the office in order to sit in traffic congestion in their SUVs to beat the Joneses to the mall so they can clutter their lives with useless stuff, while at the same time depleting the earth's resources, increasing its temperature, polluting its waters, and filling it up with garbage. That so many of the authors' claims are factually inaccurate or have been debunked by serious research is no deterrent. Thirty chapters take readers through a three-part, self-help program--the symptoms, causes, and treatment--to combat their obsession with consumption and material possessions. One good way to begin: Don't buy this book. Not recommended for academic collections. A. R. Sanderson University of Chicago

Library Journal Review

De Graaf, producer of the PBS documentaries Affluenza (1996) and Escape from Affluenza (1998); David Wann, a former EPA staffer and expert on sustainable lifestyles; and Thomas H. Naylor, professor emeritus in economics at Duke, have assembled an updated and more in-depth look at the epidemic of overconsumption sweeping the United States and the rest of the world, based on de Graaf's documentaries. They define "affluenza" as "a painful, contagious, socially-transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more" and examine the spiraling cycle of overconsumption, spending, stress, and broken relationships caused by America's obsession with uncontrolled economic growth at any cost. This witty yet hard-hitting book provides evidence of the social problems caused by the American obsession with acquiring "stuff" and proposes solutions for living more sustainably. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Mark Bay, Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. Lib., Indianapolis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the First Editionp. ix
Foreword to the Second Editionp. xi
Prefacep. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xxi
Introductionp. 1
Part 1 Symptomsp. 9
1 Shopping Feverp. 11
2 A Rash of Bankruptciesp. 18
3 Swollen Expectationsp. 23
4 Chronic Congestionp. 31
5 The Stress Of Excessp. 38
6 Family Convulsionsp. 47
7 Dilated Pupilsp. 54
8 Community Chillsp. 63
9 An Ache for Meaningp. 72
10 Social Scarsp. 81
11 Resource Exhaustionp. 89
12 Industrial Diarrheap. 100
13 The Addictive Virusp. 109
14 Dissatisfaction Guaranteedp. 114
Part 2 Causesp. 125
15 Original Sinp. 127
16 An Ounce of Preventionp. 133
17 The Road Not Takenp. 139
18 An Emerging Epidemicp. 146
19 The Age of Affluenzap. 153
20 Is There a (Real) Doctor in the House?p. 160
Part 3 Treatmentp. 171
21 The Road to Recoveryp. 173
22 Bed Restp. 177
23 Aspirin and Chicken Soupp. 182
24 Fresh Airp. 188
25 The Right Medicinep. 197
26 Back to Workp. 206
27 Vaccinations and Vitaminsp. 214
28 Political Prescriptionsp. 221
29 Annual Check-Upsp. 234
30 Healthy Againp. 242
Notesp. 248
Bibliography and Sourcesp. 263
Indexp. 276
About the Contributorsp. 284
About Redefining Progressp. 286