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Is 'Affluenza' a real disorder?

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You've heard of influenza. It's real. But a new term creating a lot of controversy is "affluenza."

It started much debate on social media Thursday, because it's the defense that attorneys for Texas teen Ethan Couch used, saying he was blameless for driving drunk and killing four people in June.

Couch, 16, claims his "condition" stemmed from having wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for him and therefor he never learned right from wrong.

Instead of serving 20 years in jail for killing four people, Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him Tuesday to 10 years of probation, saying she would work to find him a long-term treatment facility.

Eric Boyles, lost his wife and daughter in the crash. He told CNN, "There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day. The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can't buy justice in this country."

"Affluenza" is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, which is considered the "psychiatric Bible."

But the term highlights the issue of parents, particularly upper-class ones, who don't discipline their children and may protest the efforts of others who try to do so, including school officials, law enforcement and the courts.

Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University tells CNN, "There are families where very, very few limits are set at a time when they should be," she said. By age 16, she noted, it's too late: "The horse is out of the barn."

Atlanta psychologist Mary Gresham tells CNN, "Impulse control problems are seen across all socioeconomic levels in families where limits aren't set. We don't know if the rates of poor limit-setting are higher in affluent families or not."

In the crash, Boyles' wife and daughter left their home to help another girl, whose SUV had a flat tire. A youth pastor also stopped to help. All four where killed when Couch's pickup plowed into them.

Couch's blood alcohol level was 0.24, three times the legal limit. However, Couch wasn't even old enough to drink legally.

Couch's sentencing left some outraged, while others agree with the judge that he should be in treatment.

What do you think?



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