Earlier this year, Thomas Gilbert Jr, a Princeton graduate, shot his father in the head at his Manhattan apartment. While murders are an unfortunately common thing to crop up in the headlines, this crime was particularly shocking, as it occurred immediately after the 30-year-old had had an argument with his father over a cut to his monthly allowance. Yes, his allowance.
A Distinctly American Murder
This bizarre and distinctly American murder drew the attention of journalists everywhere, bringing up a profoundly tough question. How could a man of this age, having graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, still receive pocket money? Perhaps more importantly, what led to him being prepared to kill for it? What could have happened during Gilbert’s upbringing that moulded him into one of the most despised spoiled brats in recent history?
-Suniya S. Luthar Ph.D, Psychology Today
So What’s the Issue?
Statistically speaking, you were probably raised in a lower middle-class environment, with parents who were determined to keep you out of trouble, in education, and ultimately on the way to a higher-paying job than them. While you’d probably be earning more today had your parents been exceptionally wealthy, an insightful article in Psychology Today suggests that you’d also be more inclined to develop an eating disorder, steal from your parents, and suffer from depression.
For most of us near the bottom of the pyramid, the conclusions of these studies are a little hard to believe. What could those kids you see in private school uniforms being chauffeured to polo lessons know about sadness? According to the psychologist who wrote the article, the money providing for a superior education and sickeningly extravagant birthday parties is at the core of the problem.
Apparently the pressure put on kids born into elite society has led to serious anxiety problems for many. Because they are given all the resources they need to get the very best grades, they become aware from an early age of an obligation to perform exceptionally well, making their focus in life the number on their future pay slip, rather than their overall happiness. In short, by trying to make their children happy, wealthy parents can create an extremely damaging mental attitude.
Later in life, young men of all backgrounds and wealth brackets become enticed, and sometimes trapped, by the offer of sex and substance abuse. But it doesn’t take a genius to see how these vices, when combined with money, have the potential to kick-start an emotional catastrophe. Another investigation found that narcissistic exhibitionism was almost twice as common in boys at private schools than those from a less affluent background. These findings are worrying, as the highly educated test subjects are likely to hold huge concentrations of power in later life.
Current attitudes may be creating hordes of narcissistic kleptomaniacs, ready to take up massively influential posts in business and politics, from which they will have a significant influence over millions of other lives. Whether it will be as bad as all that or not, it’s out of our hands. We can only hope that these findings spark new and more accepting methods of parenting.
See Also: The Top 10 Rich, Powerful and Powerfully Sexy
Do you think that rich kids are more likely to turn into narcissistic monsters?