The Price of Privilege is a non-fiction book by psychologist Madeline Levine. The book’s primary thesis is that teenagers from affluent families have more intense psychological problems than expected. Levine maintains that children from rich families with psychological dysfunctions have been ignored because many people assume the wealthy have the resources to take care of themselves. Her findings are based on her experience as a psychologist working with children in Marin County and related clinical studies. She defines affluence as a yearly household income in the $120,000 to $160,000 range.
Over the course of her practice, the author observed many teenage patients, from affluent households, with excellent grades in school, extracurricular involvement, and an appearance of thriving in their environment. According to Levine, many of these teens suffered debilitating neuroses, such as anxiety, depression, drug addiction, anorexia, and self harm. She noted two key indicators of this dysfunction: achievement pressure and emotional isolation from parents. In affluent communities, according to Levine, external accomplishments such as prestige, power, and money for adults, or grades, clothes, and electronics for kids, become more important than happiness or human agency.