The one-sentence summary

Most middle class people have too much of everything, but it hasn’t made them any happier.


  • This is not a book about communications but it provides deep insights into the psychology of humans and as such is important for consumer understanding.
  • Affluenza is defined as a contagious middle class virus causing depression, addiction and ennui. This is an epidemic sweeping the world.
  • In order to counteract it and ensure our mental health, we should pursue our needs rather than our wants – the majority of which are unsustainable.
  • There is a questionnaire at the front to establish whether you have the virus, and a manifesto at the end suggesting how it can be stopped.


  • There are hundreds of examples from all over the world and sources from academic studies to demonstrate that this is not simply a biased rant.
  • He outlines many possible vaccines to the virus, which include:
  • Have positive volition (not Think Positive) – make choices
  • Replace virus motives (with intrinsic ones) – for the right reasons
  • Be beautiful (not attractive) – don’t conform to a marketing ideal
  • Consume what you need (not what advertisers want you to want)
  • Meet your children’s needs (not those of little adults)
  • Educate your children (don’t brainwash them)
  • Enjoy motherhood (not desperate housewifery/househusbandry)
  • Be authentic (not sincere), vivacious (not hyperactive) and playful (not game-playing)
  • In addition you need to sort out your childhood and reject much of the status quo in order to be a satisfied, unstressed individual.


  • It contains a pretty blistering condemnation of the advertising industry and goes so far as to recommend a total ban on exceptionally attractive models.
  • Because the author is a psychologist, he is prone to recommending therapy, which may not suit everybody. Willpower could be just as effective.