Madeline Levine has been a practicing psychologist for 25 years, but it was only recently that she began to observe a new breed of unhappy teenager. When a bright, affluent 15-year-old girl, a seemingly unlikely candidate for emotional problems, came into her office with the word 'empty' carved into her left forearm, Levine was shaken. The girl and her cutting seemed to personify a startling pattern Levine had been observing among her teenage patients, all of them bright, affluent, and clearly loved by their parents. Behind a veneer of strength, many of them suffered extreme emotional problems: depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. What was going on?Meticulous research confirmed Levine's worst suspicions. Privileged adolescents nation-wide are experiencing epidemic rates of emotional problems, more than children from any other socio-economic group, including those in dire poverty. The various strands of this perfect storm - materialism, pressure to achieve, and parental difficulties with attachment and separation - point to a crisis in America's culture of affluence, a culture that is as unmanageable for children as it is for their parents, particularly their mothers.
While many privileged kids have the ability to make a 'good' impression, alarming numbers lack the basic foundation of psychological development - the self. They are bland, disinterested, uncreative, and most of all unhappy. And their parents often fail to see that anything is wrong. A controversial look at privileged families, this book disposes of the 'overparenting' paradigm now in vogue, exploding one child-rearing myth after another.