47 pages 1 hour read

John de Graaf, David Wann, Thomas Naylor


Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2001

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Part 3, Chapters 17-20

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3: “Cures”

Part 3, Chapter 17 Summary: “Diagnostic Test”

The third and final portion of Affluenza examines responses to the disease that the authors believe can help the reader to cure their affliction. Chapter 17 begins by repeating a scene from the original Affluenza documentary (1996). The proverbial Joneses, the model American family of middle-class consumers with whom we are all supposed to be keeping up with by working and buying more, finally surrender to the pressures of affluenza:

‘It’s just not worth it’, says the fictional Janet Jones, ‘We never see each other anymore. We’re working like dogs. We’re always worried about our kids, and we have so much debt we won’t be able to pay it off for years. We give up’ (160).

The family vows to “live better on less” with their remaining years (160). 

After this vivid scene, the authors present a diagnostic test for affluenza (160-2). Consisting of 50 yes-or-no questions, the test, admittedly unscientific, is designed to determine the extent to which the reader is currently suffering from affluenza. The point of the exercise is to lead the reader to recognize his or her affliction with the harmful consumer lifestyle. This will presumably motivate the reader to adopt the changes suggested in the closing chapters of the book.