You don't have to watch much tabloid television to know that a wave of cash can sometimes bring with it a riptide of trouble. While someone struggling on a middle-class income may have an opinion about the perils of prosperity, their comments don't carry quite the same weight as insight from someone who has had every material need satisfied during her entire life.
Jessie O'Neill was born into a family of great affluence (her grandfather was Charles Erwin Wilson, former president of General Motors). Ms. O'Neill lived "the American dream" in perfect luxury as a child and inherited much of her family's wealth. At age 40, O'Neill returned to college to get a master's degree in psychology and counseling. Although she has never needed to work, Ms. O'Neill now invests her time helping people of great affluence deal with the psychological challenges that accompany money. While you may wish you qualified to be one of her clients, this child of privilege knows from experience the fallacy of believing that money has anything to do with happiness.
If you've never read The Golden Ghetto (Hazelden, 1997) you will find in it Jessie O'Neill offers a perspective on the root causes of a problem she calls affluenza, "the myth of the American dream, the conviction that money can, does, and should guarantee happiness" (p. 37). She later states that, ". . . the affluent are desperate to believe, as most people in this country do, that wealth or the pursuit of it couldn't possibly be at the root of their discontent" (p. 165).
Problem solving requires getting to the root of a problem. In exposing the fallacies of the American dream, Jessie O'Neill reveals the root of problems that challenge both the few living in financial luxury and thousands of suburban wannabees.