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Affluenza. The symptoms are subtle at first: although the used Alfa Romeo once felt like a Ferrari, it now doesn’t quite cut it

The symptoms are subtle at first: although the used Alfa Romeo once felt like a Ferrari, it now doesn't quite cut it at the firm's garage. After all, your colleagues have all moved on to Porsches, so why should you be any different? Then the house doesn't feel quite 'new' enough, not as new as the neighbour's recently renovated house. Then they go off and buy a country house, so that's a must too. Affluenza is a disease of the first world: no matter how many comforts we can afford, we want more. The kids really, really want the latest £100 robot – that is, until they really, really want the next toy. We're not any happier than when we had less, but that doesn't stop us. Affluenza is an affliction that is notoriously difficult to treat – selling all material goods and moving to a deserted South Pacific island might do the trick temporarily, but this is a disease that even psychiatrists can't treat. Your visits are funding their Porsche habit, after all – something they're not ready to give up.

Helen Kirwan-Taylor – helen@kirwantaylor.com

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