Also known as “spoiled brat.”
You may have heard this week from north Texas, a state that has a long standing history of execution, that teenager Ethan Couch received ten years probation for killing four people.
Couch was driving 70 miles per hour with three times the blood alcohol limit and Valium in his system when he slammed his vehicle into a disabled car and the stranded motorist, Breanna Mitchell, age 24, and the three good Samaritans who were providing assistance; mother and daughter, Hollie Boyles, 52, and Shelby Boyles, 21, and youth pastor, Brian Jennings, 41.
Another teen, who was a passenger in Couch’s vehicle is paralyzed as well as other friends riding in the bed of his pick up truck were also hurt (a total of 9 people involved). Luckily, it seems like Couch walked away from a collision that could easily have killed him, and this week he walked away a “free man”.
Apparently this was not Mr. Couch’s first run in with trouble. “That’s the incredible thing,” Cooper said to Boyles. “He has prior experiences with alcohol and the law. This is not his first offense. So you have a multiple offender who has killed four people who is not going to spend any time in jail — simply because, it seems to me, his family has money.” (An interview with Anderson Cooper with Eric Boyles – victim’s family).
The defendant was facing twenty years in prison, until Psychologist Dick Miller presented a case in which Couch was a victim of his parents’ wealth, of their constant arguing which led to their divorce, and his sense of entitlement which led to irresponsibility, poor decisions, and drug use. He was unable to discern from right or wrong.
Affluenza (Affluence + Influenza) is a term that was coined in the 1990’s as a criticism of the social phenomenon of consumerism. Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in excess (shop ’til you drop).
It is not a medical diagnosis recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Miller defended his diagnosis on AC 360 the other night, based on his 24 sessions (equaled to about 40-50 hours total) he had to examine Couch.
Apparently about 80% of us suffer from affluenza and Dr. Miller even went to so far to link it as a cause to obesity:
“…The people who are obese and feed you, and offer you food…that’s– you got more food than you need. Let’s eat it,” said Dr. Miller.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) does not list this as one of the causes for obesity.
The victims’ family were upset by the sentencing, “There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day. The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can’t buy justice in this country.” said Eric Bolyes.
Judge Jean Boyd, a highly respected official, was also criticized for her decision to send Couch to a rehab center in California, which his parents will pay the $450,000 a year bill.
This same judge also sentenced a young (14 years old) African American (nonwealthy) teenager to prison for ten years after he punched one person, and the victim fell and hit his head and died.
Dr. Miller argued that this was a better choice for the state, financially and socially as the parents will pay for treatment and Mr. Couch will be able to re-integrate back into society once probation is over and contribute meaningfully as an adult.
The Newport Academy has a robust treatment program of equine therapy (horseback riding), yoga, martial arts training, nature hikes, and teens can get the “unconditional love they need to heal.”
There is currently an online petition to Governor Rick Perry to remove Boyd from the bench, however it is announced that she plans on retiring at the end of her term next year.
Click here for the petition. Only 172 signatures are needed, if you “like” this post, you should sign it too.
There were no statements from Couch’s family or Judge Boyd’s office.
The defendant’s father, Fred Couch, is the owner of a Fort Worth sheet metal manufacturing. The family and his company is being sued because the truck Ethan was driving belonged to the company.
I must say, although I dismiss affluenza as a mental health phenomenon, it does come with a grain of truth. And one does wonder whether this verdict only “spreads the disease.”
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