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Psychiatric Treatment for Extreme Affluence

“Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact.”

Martha Beck

An extra layer of shame accompanying a mental illness

Contrary to popular belief, the ultra-affluent are just as susceptible to mental illness as those from lower socio-economic groups. Clinical depression impacts individuals from all walks of life, regardless of social status and access to resources. While it’s true that it’s significantly more challenging to feel optimistic and fulfilled without having one’s material needs met, it’s important not to confuse feeling unhappy or frustrated with a clinically diagnosed mental illness such as depression or bi-polar.

It’s well documented that alcoholism, drug addiction, and eating disorders can decimate ultra-high-net-worth families, just as much as families in disenfranchised or marginalised communities. However, the two economic classes will be met with a very different perception regarding their mental illness from the public. Very little empathy and compassion will be directed towards ultra-affluent individuals particularly those deemed to be in this class due to “privilege” or by dint of birth.

Click-bait “journalists”, and social media talk show hosts, have openly mocked ultra-wealthy people (some of whom are in the public eye) for disclosing their battles with mental illness and addiction. Harsh criticism/judgement is routinely directed towards those born into extreme wealth for succumbing to an addiction; the critics point to their net worth and privilege, deliberately overlooking the stark reality that environment isn’t the only factor that plays a part in developing an addiction or mental illness. Genetics, for example, often determine the likelihood of succumbing to a mental illness or an addictive behaviour (although, most genes can be altered by a healthy lifestyle).

There have been myths peddled about the rich for millennia, and they’ve been exacerbated in the last fifteen years or so by legislators, opinion columnists, and social media influencers. This often makes it challenging for ultra-high-earners and affluent individuals to seek help and talk about their mental health issues, for fear of being judged or not taken seriously by a mental health clinician.

Shame is often felt when seeking help, which can then lead to resorting to masking “putting on a brave face” or withdrawing altogether from psychiatric and therapeutic treatment. At Addcounsel, we know that it takes immense courage to seek professional help, let alone engage with a team of mental health clinicians and persist with treatment.

The heavy emotional toll of extreme wealth

A relatively new ultra-high-net-worth individual who has say, created a unicorn company or benefitted from an unexpected inheritance, might experience different forms of discrimination and prejudice from an individual born into a super wealthy legacy family. Nevertheless, both can be burned by the adverse effects of extreme wealth.

New to vast resources

A person experiencing vast wealth for the first time will have to discard many mainstream concepts and deeply ingrained beliefs around capital and lifestyle such as processing the guilt of being ultra-wealthy when the majority aren’t. Social stigma and shame around wealth has seeped into the collective psyche in the West, forcing ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNW) to further isolate or withdraw into a tight inner circle. Observe the general discourse on online platforms or during political debates where the timeworn trope of the “rich need to pay their fair share,” is regularly trotted out even though many ultra-high-net-worth individuals have paid hundreds of millions of dollars and pounds in taxes.

In the UK, post 2008, it was deemed acceptable to demonise city bankers for their substantial salaries and bonuses, adding to the pressure already felt by those in the financial sector where the high stakes and fast pace are already more than likely to lead to problems with addictive behaviours/extreme stress. No one wants to feel shamed or ostracised for their good fortune, and this often leads to super affluent individuals experiencing a growing sense of social isolation.

If an individual has created a unicorn company, and is new to being reported and ranked in economy news and indexes, it can feel overwhelming, especially if they’re denigrated for successfully building from scratch. This unfriendly attitude towards a meteoric rise to financial success often causes a course correction in their thinking, prompting an exodus to a location where they can be left alone in relative peace whilst benefitting from friendlier tax policies (in recent years, there has been a marked increase in ultra-affluent individuals deserting Canada, the USA, and the UK, seeking passport diversification and strategic tax planning for this very reason).

In an article published by Truist Bank it states: “Wealth creators may experience feelings of shame and guilt if their success has distanced them from their families, friends and peers, or created difficulties for their children. In extreme situations, they may even feel unworthy of the created wealth and think negatively about their success.”

If you consider the personal, social, and political unease that can occur for an ultra-wealthy entrepreneur who has legally and successfully built a large company, it’s understandable that they may feel a deep sense of isolation when living with an untreated addiction and/or undiagnosed mental illness. Even if the individual avails themself of the services of a private medical doctor, there’s no guarantee of long-term recovery, especially if their doctor/inner circle are dependent on them for income and may feel threatened if their employer seeks outside consultation with a high-end clinic.

Old money—powerful legacy families

There are some very well-regarded memoirs of ultra-wealthy family members who in some cases have had to resort to changing their names to avoid social judgement and the stigma of being viewed as a “trust fund kid”. There tends to be an assumption that those born into extreme wealth are somehow buttressed from the stresses and strains of modern life. The problem with this assumption is that it fails to consider family dynamics/dysfunction, personal relationships, or the overall standing of a family’s emotional wellbeing. Many born into powerful affluent families have reported feeling isolated, ignored, overlooked, and viewed with suspicion or envy by the vast majority of those in less fortunate economic circles.

Mental illness, from bi-polar (formerly labelled manic depression), schizophrenia, alcoholism, drug addiction and clinical depression to eating disorders and self-harm is well documented in affluent legacy families. For those in this category, reaching out to a mental health clinic can be deeply embarrassing and daunting for fear of shame and ridicule, or leaks to the press. At Addcounsel, we take privacy extremely seriously and client confidentiality is sacrosanct knowing what’s at stake for those seeking help for a mental illness and/or addiction. We know that in some cultures, mental illness and addiction is still taboo. The burden of extreme wealth is a reality for many UHNW individuals, and this must be considered with holistic planning and a tailor-made recovery programme for an addiction or mental illness.

In her heartfelt memoir Being a Rockefeller – Becoming Myself, Eileen Rockefeller, the great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller (co-founder of Standard Oil) writes: “As an heir to the Rockefeller legacy I have found that real richness and power comes not from the amount of money but from our connection to ourselves and one another. I am just as much “Eileen” as I am “Rockefeller”. I struggle with my weight. I am getting more lines on my face every year. I have fights with my husband, I get impatient when I have to wait for a long time in the grocery store or gas line, and I hate going through airport security. And just like you, I am unique.” She continues with a potent statement which compliments the sentiment of this article. “I am part of a long line of venture capitalists and philanthropists. It’s hard to talk about my grandfathers without them taking over. Their accomplishments overwhelm me. I feel small and insignificant in comparison.”

In an article published by the Economist titled “Rich Man’s Burden” it states: “For all the existential angst that may go with being rich, there is no evidence to suggest that those with money would rather be without. Yet there are specific problems associated with being, and particularly with becoming, exceptionally wealthy. The world’s leading private banks now encourage some of their clients to seek advice from psychoanalysts on their relationship with their wealth—not just in America, but also in more reticent parts of the world, including stiff-upper-lipped Britain.” At Addcounsel, our world-class experts have successfully treated such individuals regarding both mental illness and the challenges of having access to an abundance of resources.

Contact us today to start your treatment

Our team of experts have a wealth of knowledge and understanding when it comes to treating a wide range of mental health issues. We recognise the value of discretion and privacy in the treatment of mental illness, especially in ultra-high-net-worth individuals for whom these problems can carry unnecessary stigma. Treatment takes place in an intimate, one-to-one setting—no groups, no other patients. Your comfort, safety and privacy are our priority.

At Addcounsel, we draw on the world’s most extensive menu of mental health treatment options to build a programme of individually tailored support that will help you overcome these issues. Our team boasts of world-leading experts and consultants in a variety of fields, all carefully vetted and committed to providing discreet, high-quality care.

You don’t have to go through this alone. Our dedicated team will help and guide you through the entire process from start to finish, in the comfort and anonymity of our luxury, private mental health and addiction treatment accommodation in Mayfair, Chelsea, Knightsbridge or Notting Hill, London. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.

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