Is the Excessive Want for Money is a Mental Disorder ?

This morning I saw a tweet from none other than the shameful Texas Senator Ted Cruz in which, without facts or justification, he blamed President …

Put The Blame Where It Belongs!

—- This post reminds me of an idea I had about 10 years ago.

It’s excessively hypothetical but I think very sensible and it’s route.

Here we go…

…it goes like this:

Greed Disorder

My idea is that excessive want is actually a mental disorder. I was thinking this way before I was even beginning to ponder about being a mental health counselor, so don’t think that I am Mr. Therapist over here thinking that selfishness needs to be corrected because I’m a counselor. 😄

My background and coming with this idea is that I married into a pretty wealthy family (now divorced). I am from basically middle-class upper middle-class upbringing in the suburbs. And when I met my ex-wife, she had basically rejected the attitudes of her upper class upbringing and went out on her own. So as I got to know her about how wealthy her family is, I just kind of put it in my pocket like an interesting tidbit of information. But as well, because I had never met anyone who was very wealthy, I had my ideas and biases about how these people were, and my ex-wife was not really like that.

She would tell me about her brother, family friends and friends friends etc. of pretty famous people. And, me, not being that impressed about famous people, again, just put it in my pocket as a piece of tidbit information.

When I finally met her brother, he was nothing like I thought wealthy people were, and it kind of destroyed my stereotype. He was just a regular guy, very nice guy, very thoughtful, considerate, caring, concerned for others. But he also had a very giant, nice house with all that modern technology stuff, very expensive cars and I knew how much money he made a year, and I knew from just hearing about his lifethat he could just basically do anything he wanted at any time he wanted. He could buy pretty much anything he wanted. And this could happen simply because he decided.

I reflected on his life compared to me and my wife’s life. Our life with perhaps again middle upper class-ish but I don’t think people would think that. Together we may be made 150 K. So, not rich, but not poor.

I reflected on our life. We were pretty happy. We had what we needed. We could basically do what we want with some planning. But we pretty much were content in our life.

And I thought about her brother. Just for the sake of this post here, I’m going to throw out a number that’s probably near what he made in a year. Which is, $6 million a year, not including family assets. Now, he wasn’t lazy at all. He worked 70-80 hour weeks. He was very devoted to his career and business, which involved serving people, caring for them. He had a chef that would make him lunches. He had a yoga teacher that would come to his house, and a some sort of martial arts trainer as well. And then every once in a while, maybe every couple months or some thing he would just disappear. He would go to Cabo for a week and party insanely with his friends from Cornel that he still had. Or maybe the Mediterranean.

The reflection that I had upon this situation, the discrepancy or disparity between how he lived and how I lived really struck me. Personally, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that I would never work 70 or 80 hour work weeks end on end. And I’m not really sure that I would really want to do all the things that he likes to do.

But what crossed my mind was, how much money does a person need to make to do whatever the hell they want to do whenever they want to do it? How much money does it take for a person to be able to buy whatever they want whenever they want it?

Somehow I feel that some motivated graduate student or PhD person could do a study of economics and determine roughly a pretty good estimate of how much person would need to make to fit into those categories.

The Diagnosis

My idea, my conclusion, my proposal, really just comes off of my feeling about the matter and knowing somethings about my brother-in-law. So, not science at all.

From my mind, here is this guy that makes five to $6 million a year and he pretty much does and can buy anything he wants to, at the drop of a hat.

And my mind goes to what about the people that make $100 million a year? What about billionaires. What are they doing? I mean this in the sense that what else could they possibly be buying or doing that makes them more happy then say myself or my brother-in-law? Are they more happy, more content because they have that excessive amount of assets?

So, hypothetically let us bring the question before us and think about it constructively and practically.

If my brother-in-law only makes maybe 6 million a year and do whatever he wants, let’s just figure some people need more shit in their lives than he does. So let’s just put some arbitrary number out there as the amount of money that a person could make and be able to have whatever sort of accessories in their life that they could possibly want.

Let’s just say for argument sake $500 million.

So, let’s say that if a person feels in order to be happy and content in their life that they need to make over $500 million a year, as evidenced by that they indeed do make over 5 million a year, then they are mentally compromised, that they have some sort of mental disorder.

Because, that’s the standard we use for every other diagnosis of mental disorder. The evidence has usually nothing to do with what is actually going on in their head, but has everything to do with the assessors version of the persons behavior.

Now, we gotta think about the world. We gotta think about this situation that the post that I linked to above is talking about. We got to think of a social situation.

It seems to me one of the most obvious things is that some people just have way, way, way, too much money, way too much money than they could possibly ever spend even if they had 10 children who are in their 20s.

So I was thinking…

Mental disorders are a social convention. The very idea of mental illness and mental disorders is based around Ideals, ethics, norms, and if a person behaves outside of these conventions then they are deemed to have a mental illness or mental disorder. Indeed, one could go so far —I think Erich Fromm was the first person to talk about this, and Michel Foucault for sure — That these norms and forced upon people as a way to know themselves in the world creates subjects that soon police themselves. And it’s not too far a step to say that that is what mental disorders are, for the most part. They are the result of people policing themselves against these ideological standards, for how they are supposed to be, how they are supposed to think and what they are supposed to do.

If people don’t police themselves and their behavior is too excessive, then we stick them in a mental hospital and we say they have a mental illness.

(We don’t much anymore. Anymore we just let them wander around the streets in misery basically, or throw them in jail.)

Anyways… I have diverged from my proposal.

The Proposal

So, how about we just start thinking about these people with an excessive amount of money, in so much as they might feel that they need this excessive amount of money in order to be content and happy in their life, as having a mental illness. 

Something is wrong with these people. Let’s just say it. Not in the sense that they are bad or evil, but in the sense that they have a mental disorder, and we need to figure out what to do with them, because it’s screwing things up for the rest of us.

What do you think?

Author: landzek

My name is Lance Kair, a philosopher, a counselor and a musician who is being questioned.

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