The price of privilege

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The price of privilege

One of the problems that kids from affluent families is having a heck of a time developing a robust sense of who they are. The reasons for this are complex and there are many. One of the things that I think is most important is that upper-middle class people like to look good. They dress well. They drive nice cars. Their homes look good. Kids have learned this as a way of presenting themselves to the world. For example, my book "The Price of Privilege," begins with a 16 year old girl. She pulls up in a BMW, dressed very well, and she meets me. I say, "It's a pleasure to meet you," which is always a problem because it's never a pleasure to meet a shrink when you are 16 years old, right? She sits down. She has a cutter T-shirt on. She pulls it back and she has carved the word "empty" into her arm. She's the reason I really got interested in these kids. Everything on the outside looked great; but on the inside, she was feeling empty. If you put all your effort in meeting other people's expectations, you are externally driven, externally motivated; you really don't have time or energy to construct an internal sense of self which is the basis of all mental health.

Watch Madeline Levine, PhD's video on The price of privilege...


Expert Bio

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Madeline Levine, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Madeline Levine, PhD, is a psychologist with close to 30 years of experience as a clinician, consultant and educator. Her New York Times bestseller, The Price of Privilege, explores the reasons why teenagers from affluent families are experiencing epidemic rates of emotional problems.  Her book, Teach Your Children Well, outlines how our current narrow definition of success unnecessarily stresses academically talented kids and marginalizes many more whose talents and interests are less amenable to measurement. The development of skills needed to be successful in the 21st century- creativity, collaboration, innovation – are not easily developed in our competitive, fast-paced, high pressure world. Teach Your Children Well gives practical, research- based solutions to help parents return their families to healthier and saner versions of themselves.

Dr. Levine is also a co-founder of Challenge Success, a project born at the Stanford School of Education. Challenge Success believes that our increasingly competitive world has led to tremendous anxiety about our children’s’ futures and has resulted in a high pressure, myopic focus on grades, test scores and performance. This kind of pressure and narrow focus isn’t helping our kids become the resilient, capable, meaningful contributors we need in the 21st century. So every day, Challenge Success provides families and schools with the practical research-based tools they need to raise healthy, motivated kids, capable of reaching their full potential. We know that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of the grading period.

Dr. Levine began her career as an elementary and junior high school teacher in the South Bronx of New York before moving to California and earning her degrees in psychology. She has had a large clinical practice with an emphasis on child and adolescent problems and parenting issues. Currently however, she spends most of her time crisscrossing the country speaking to parents, educators, students, and business leaders. Dr. Levine has taught Child Development classes to graduate students at the University of California Medical Center/ San Francisco. For many years, Dr. Levine has been a consultant to various schools, from preschool through High School, public as well as private, throughout the country. She has been featured on television programs from the Early Show to the Lehrer report, on NPR stations such as Diane Rheems in Washington and positively reviewed in publications from Scientific American to the Washington Post. She is sought out both nationally and internationally as an expert and keynote speaker. 

Dr. Levine and her husband of 35 years, Lee Schwartz, MD are the incredibly proud (and slightly relieved) parents of three newly minted and thriving sons.

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