Is there such a thing as “wealth addiction”?

Citing the writings of a PhD in sociology, a commentator suggests that we should pay attention to wealth addiction:

The Occupy Wall Street and the 99 Percent Movement named the core issue of our time: the overwhelming power of Wall Street and large corporations. Now it’s time we named the problem underlying this issue. It’s called addiction. I’ve been treating addicts for more than 40 years and when I hear the descriptions of those for whom millions and billions of dollars in wealth drives them to want more and more, I know we’re dealing with addiction.

Philip Slater has an A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard and taught sociology at Harvard, Brandeis and UCSC. He is the author of numerous books including Wealth Addiction. He says:

“Those who devote their entire lives to amassing or retaining huge sums of money are neurotically addicted, trying to fill an inner void with money. And since such psychic voids cannot be filled with money — any more than with alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, food, or sex — even a billion dollars doesn’t satisfy them.”We say people who can’t stop drinking when they’ve had enough are alcoholics. We say people who can’t stop eating when they’ve had enough are food addicts. We say that people who can’t stop gambling when they know they should quit are gambling addicts. “But people with a billion dollars who can’t stop trying to make more,” Slater says, “we call successful.”

I imagine this could be a good conversation starter. But this would have to be part of a larger conversation taking place right now about some other kinds of addiction including sex addiction and Internet addiction. Some might ask whether saying billionaires are suffering addiction lets them “off the hook” for amassing so much wealth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s