Lufkin Counselor explains whether 'affluenza' exists - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Lufkin Counselor explains whether 'affluenza' exists

Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: CNN Source: CNN
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff

Affluenza: it’s the term that rocked the nation when Ethan Couch's defense used it as a way to explain his drunk driving that resulted in the death of four people and injured several others.  

Does affluenza actually exist?

"It's not an actual disorder that has a set of criteria, that has a description, that has certain symptoms,” said Dr. Debra Burton, a Lufkin-based licensed professional counselor. “It is not, in my opinion, a legal defense at all.”

Burton said she isn't buying the punishment that was handed down to Couch by the judge.

"It doesn't make any sense,” Burton said. “To give him back to the people who supposedly caused this in the first place doesn't make a bit of sense."

While Burton doesn't think affluenza exists, she does believe Couch suffers from another problem.

"Obviously, he's showing signs of [poor] impulse control; a lot of times we see that with adolescence,” Burton explained. “To say his parents did not give him proper consequences for his behavior, therefore he should have been let off the hook, I think we've done that young man a big disservice."

In fact, Burton said the light punishment he received is the reason Couch continues to misbehave, breaking his probation and fleeing the country. Had she been in the judge's shoes, she said,  things would've gone very differently.

“He probably did need some time in a juvenile detention center, and if he did get treatment it should've been very long term in an adolescent treatment facility that was not in the country club range,” Burton said. “Somewhere he could've actually learned that his behavior is going to determine his consequences."

Burton said she hopes this case is a wake-up call for parents who let their children off the hook too easily.

"That's what you want to do as a parent, is have firm consequences for actions,” Burton said. “That way, that young person can begin to learn to make good choices instead of poor choices.”

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