Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Affluenza Defense, In the News, and Enjoy

The Affluenza Defence - 16-year-old Ethan Couch drove while drunk and killed four people and injured two others. He had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood (the limit for adults, that is—minors should have NO alcohol in their blood). He also had Valium and some THC in his system.

Couch was drunk on stolen beer. He was driving a pickup owned by his father's company. When his passengers told him to slow down, he drove faster!

Rather than the 20-year sentence for which the prosecution asked, Texas Judge Jean Boyd instead sentenced him to 10 years of probation and time in a long-term treatment facility. That facility costs $450,000 per year, paid for by Couch’s wealthy parents. Among other amenities, it offers equine therapy and organic food choices.

During the sentencing phase of the trial, the defense argued that Couch should not be held as responsible as he might be because his parents were so permissive in their style of child rearing that Couch did not experience socially appropriate consequences for his socially inappropriate behavior. The defense’s argument for a lenient sentence is summed up in the word affluenza.

Psychologist for the defense Gary Miller is reported to have said that Couch’s parents gave their son whatever he wanted, including "freedoms no young person should have."

Examining the psychological underpinnings of the "affluenza defense" leaves me fully diametrically opposed to the concept! In essence, the defense’s argument rests on the assumption that knowing the law is not enough to deter someone from criminal acts. Instead, the person must have experienced deleterious consequences for his or her socially inappropriate or illegal behavior in the past. I feel that concept is totally without merit and completely unsupportable. Even though Couch’s parents may not have taught him that his inappropriate behavior has negative consequences, this in no way means that he was incapable of learning this lesson in other areas of his life. Even rats and other animals learn to make analogous types of discriminations based on context. Even preschoolers are sensitive to context. They learn intuitively how much they can "get away with."

I believe the judge is sending a message to Couch by allowing him to live in a "private rehabilitation home." The message is that his wealth and privilege can obviate the negative consequences of his criminal behavior. That wealth and privilege can buy someone’s way out of going to jail or to programs that are part of the public juvenile justice system. Judge Boyd’s cure for affluenza seems to be more of the same.

Affluenza is used as a diagnosis to explain Couch's behavior and why he should not be criminally responsible. The logic seems to be that young people with this affluenza suffer from a psychological deficit or even a developmental disorder. This is unsupportable by logic. It is, in fact, a paradigm of illogical determination.

At the core of this illogical argument is the undeniable fact that affluenza is not a mental disorder. It is not identified by any mental health professional organization or diagnostic manual. It is not a diagnosis for a mental disorder. In the hands of this defense team, it is a fabrication invented to serve a specific purpose.

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    Enjoy - Relax and enjoy these images and videos!