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What Newly-Minted Millionaires Struggle With (medium.com/duncanr)
21 points by Elof on July 15, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 17 comments

> Anyone who tells you that, “I had a perfect childhood” is either lying, in denial, or deluded.

Wow. Anyone else feel that is rather over-cynical? Edit: Duncan holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, so maybe he has a sampling bias? The Psychologists I have know well were all very abnormal (selection bias?!)

Personally, I had a lovely childhood, and nothing traumatic ever happened to me. Maybe that doesn't mean "perfect childhood" but I could use the phrase without cringing. Maybe I am just lucky: one ex did give me a peculiar nickname because she felt I had never experienced misfortune!

> Personally, I had a lovely childhood, and nothing traumatic ever happened to me.

I think that's the point. Lovely != perfect. Not that I'm trying to be pedantic here...but "perfect" says a lot. If you think you had the "perfect" childhood you're essentially claiming that there is no possible way your childhood could have gone better. It's just sort of myopic thinking that there aren't other ways to enjoy life and that might reveal other things, such as a lack of empathy or perhaps masking something else.

What do we think the author means when he uses the word "perfect"? He uses the words "in denial" and "deluded." He's implying that everyone's childhood contains some flaws that make later psychological introspection beneficial.

In that sense, he's obviously right. That's why "nobody's perfect" is such a bland truism, just as "no one's childhood was perfect."

So the real problem comes down to equivocation. The author means one thing when he says "perfect" and the reader understands it as another: "I had a lovely childhood, and it was filled with memories that I cherish, and it lacked any of those traumatic things you see on TV." Neither meaning refers to "perfect" in the sense that someone can get a 1600 on their SAT test.

My main beef is there is a mindset of some people that think that everybody has serious trauma in their childhood (maybe repressed memories or in denial). However plenty* of people have great childhoods.

I think it is normal for someone to say that they had a "perfect childhood", just like someone might say "There is nothing worse than" or "I would never" etc. Yes, we often could say things more precisely. But most people regularly say things that are 100% incorrect if we were to treat their words as logical truths.

I guess I feel he straw-manned the statement, and that the subtext of Daniel's statements is that he denies that anyone can have a childhood without trauma, and even if they think they did, he says they didn't!

Edit: I think the reason this pisses me off is because I have a friend who is a psychologist and when you get him drunk he gives every single one of his acquaintances a mental diagnosis label! I have seen the same pattern with other psychologists: they act as though they are all seeing, that they can always discover issues if they dig deep, and their reading of someone is correct (even against the consensus of everybody else).

* 33% of people in a statistically invalid web poll selected that they had a "perfect childhood": https://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/did-you-have-a-perfect-c...

Have you ever gotten into a fight? Did you know someone who did? Were you ever hit by an adult? Was anything you owned ever stolen?

Remember that perfect means perfect.

Perfect doesn't mean absence of pain, conflict, or struggle. Certainly a physical fitness regiment would suffer under that attitude. Why should a mental or social fitness program be any different? Yes, perfect means perfect, but that doesn't actually tell you what perfect means.

> There’s often an overwhelming amount of confusion that people feel when their train-of-life suddenly runs out of rails. Nobody else is now telling you what you should do.

Nobody was telling you what to do, prior to receiving your windfall. Sure, society forced your hand a little bit (you had to work to put food on the table, and a roof over your head) but that doesn't fundamentally change whatever non-financial challenges you were facing. Maybe your lack of wealth masked it, since you were too busy to really think about any of it. Later, the author says:

> The ultimate discovery is that nothing fundamentally changes when you have a lot of money. ... So now you have to face the fact that you’re in control of your own destiny and that you get to choose what you want. This is actually true for everyone

I haven't experienced a windfall ever, but this is how I'd imagine it occurs to receive one. You're still the same person. I suppose this is comforting information, since I imagine there's a decent number of readers here who will eventually experience a windfall.

The question I have for people in such situations, as in “suddenly wealthy”, is how do you manage your dependents?

Some background may be in order. I suspect for many such people the wealth was earned, and so I am disqualifying inheritance and lottery. In the case where wealth is earned there may be some people who had to toil with excess work in great risk with need of excessive discipline in the face of potential failure. For these people I suspect the discipline and patience necessary set expectations accordingly and so the realities of sudden wealth are but merely a new challenge, in a line of many, to manage with prudence. While such people may have the personalities and experience to leverage careful decisions about the day to day realities of the new wealth those personalities and experiences are likely not equally present in their spouses, children, and other personal beneficiaries.

How do the wealthy manage their dependents with regard to new wealth and access thereof? I imagine there might be new problems with spending habits or that they may develop a new sense of personal entitlement or arrogance among the immediate dependents. The change can be sudden or it can be gradual such that the changes rise slowly in proportion to the resources available at any given time.

I have personally observed this phenomenon on a tiny scale in my own life as my earning power has increased over time and it destroys any lust I might imagine for any sort of wealth accumulation. Has anyone wealthy encountered something like this and solved for it?


The straightforard but unpopular answer is that you should't squander wealth on yourself, and certainly not squander it on your dependents. Put your wealth to good use making the world a better place, by investing in a business and employees, or paying people to do good charitable work.

The other answer to put your wealth into generating as many offspring (and grand-offspring) as possible, and giving them wealth, and trusting them to figure out how to spread your genes far and wide.

Why is this pure chum article ranked up so high.

I think this is a great article.

IMHO last line is the best.

Agreed, great article (though I prefer this line from the penultimate paragraph: "Why wait until you’re rolling in money to discover that you’re not living your authentic, fully-empowered, best life? Why not start digging-in now?").

I "retired" at 28 on what, in retrospect, was a laughably small nest egg from stock options. But I was unhappy at my job and wanted freedom from work, and I leapt at the earliest opportunity. It took me a long time to rediscover that meaningful work is one of the great joys in life. If I'd figured that out sooner, I probably could have transitioned into a better role at my current company, or found something suitable at another company ... anything rather than just checking out for years and trying to find a way to fill my time.

What did you find as meaningful work?

Running a community theatre. Although that's just where I ended up; I don't think it's necessarily more meaningful than programming. Meaning is individual.

I wonder if people who retire at a more usual age struggle with similar issues? It seems like there ought to be lots of other people writing about this?

He's only speaking for one newly-minted millionaire, one that admits to having spent it all. Maybe not the best teacher.

He’s speaking from experience

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