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    This Therapist To The Super-Wealthy Explains Why They’re So Unhappy Despite All Their Money

    “What they do get right is is how wealth can be very toxic within a family dynamic.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed how accurately Succession portrays the mental health struggles of the super-wealthy. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

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    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to psychotherapist Clay Cockrell who specializes in treating the ultra-wealthy. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: Would you mind explaining what it is exactly you do for our audience?

    Clay Cockrell: I am a licensed clinical social worker. I'm a psychotherapist and I work with ultra-high net worth individuals.

    BuzzFeed Daily: And how did you end up specializing in treating the one percent?

    Logan and a family therapist in Succession
    HBO

    CC: Well, it's an odd story. About 20 years ago, I started a private practice, and I do something a little unusual. Instead of meeting a client in my office, I walk with them in Central Park, walk and talk. I think better on my feet. I think a lot of people do. And it's just a little bit more active than sitting two people in a room. So because of that, I think it was very attractive — this out-of-the-box approach — to a few entrepreneurs, some CEOs. And my name got passed around a very small group of people, and that I was someone who could work with people with wealth, with resources, and not bring a lot of judgment or negativity. 

    I've had a lot of clients say [that their] previous therapist didn't quite understand what [their] problems are. For example, this one woman had a $40,000/month budget that her husband put her on, and he was worth tens of millions of dollars. But she was running multiple households and staff on $40,000 a month. And her previous therapist said, "Well, you should just be glad — that's more money than most people have," and wasn't recognizing that this was a struggle for this woman. So I tend to think problems, even if they are — and I hear this phrase a lot — "first-world problems — they're still problems. And so I approach the counseling session like that. And one by one, more and more people found me, and all of a sudden, I've got a practice working with some very wealthy people.

    BuzzFeed Daily: What would you say is a common thread between most of the patients that you treat?

    CC: Money is hard to talk about. Some people are more likely to talk about their sex lives than their bank accounts. It's private and there is a lot of shame. There's a lot of guilt. There are issues of isolation because it's difficult sometimes to relate to people who don't have the resources that some of my clients do. And so each client is different. They come to the table with different issues. But there's some commonality that I've noticed in this population, and differences, too. And I like to think that there are two groups of people within this larger group. 

    One is people who were born into wealth, generational wealth. Their family has had wealth for generations and they are familiar with that world. They have the vocabulary, they know the culture, and sometimes they're protected because they have a history of how to do things wrong by the parents or grandparents. 

    And then you have a different group, where the money is new and they're not quite so familiar with the challenges that come along with it. So within those two groups, there are a lot of similarities, but there are a lot of differences too.

    BuzzFeed Daily: Are there specific issues that you see that patients will consistently deal with? I know you said there are differences and similarities, but is there something that's kind of underlying in every person that you treat?

    CC: Sure, several. Here are a few that come to mind: A lack of trust. If you look around friends, even within your family, and you don't know if they are in a relationship with you because of who you are or because of what you bring to the table. So there is a difficulty in building relationships that have that fundamental foundation of trust. There's always suspicion there and that can eat away at a person where you know their self-esteem is not there because they feel like people only like them or hang out with them because of their celebrity or their wealth. And that's hard. That's very isolating. 

    Another issue that comes to mind is that there is a lot of jealousy and anger coming from, you know, you and I — non-wealthy people — toward what they have. So they live with that every day. It's interesting. I've gotten some media attention recently because I wrote this article for The Guardian, and it was remarkable how much anger I received from commenters, about how these people should all die, I should die with them, and that the problems of the world are all related to them. Death threats, just for talking about the wealthy people. And so they live with this all the time, just an underlying anger toward them. And sometimes it may be justified that they're not spending their money well or I don't know, it's just a lot of anger coming toward them.

    BuzzFeed Daily: Like you mentioned, you wrote a piece for The Guardian comparing some of your patients to the Roy family from Succession. How accurate would you say that depiction is?

    Kendall, Shiv, and Roman Roy on Succession
    HBO

    CC: You know, they are heightened and dramatized for television. And they've done a really good job with it. I've watched a few of the episodes just because I was asked to write this article and I had already begun to watch it. But when you work all day with this population, I don't necessarily want to go home at night and watch a television program about it. So it's like, I would imagine you would not want to watch a television program about podcasting or journalism. It's just boring after a while, but I think that they have created characters that are engaging and dangerous and foul. It's just awful. But you know, it's for television, so not super accurate, but there are truths in there.

    BuzzFeed Daily: What are just a few of the things you think the show gets right? And what are some of the ones that are completely off-base?

    The Roy family having dinner on Succession
    HBO

    CC: Well, what they do get right is is how wealth can be very toxic within a family dynamic. I mean, you've got this father who has created this media empire, and the children were brought up with this wealth and they're all fighting for a piece of the pie, and they're fighting against each other. The way he pits them against one another, I have not seen that in my day-to-day practice, but they do get this jealousy and fighting and the toxicity within a family. And who got a little bit more at Christmas and who is getting a little bit more favor? And you could probably see that in most family dynamics, but when you add in wealth, it just magnifies everything. 

    [Another thing they get right is how] the characters interact with people outside their circle, whether it be a waiter or a receptionist, or just someone that works with them, or a driver. There is a nonchalant [sense of] not necessarily treating them as not human, but certainly not interacting with them on an equal basis. I've seen that, and I think that they're not always aware of how they treat others that are outside their circle. But, particularly in the show, they've been surrounded by staff, whether it's pilots or chefs or whatever, their entire life. These people are employees, and so they're very used to dealing with others in that manner.

    We also talked about Bella Hadid having to unlearn the quote “toxic views about femininity or sexiness” instilled in her during her time at Victoria’s Secret.

    Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images

    She told Marie Claire: “My life for so many years revolved around only working and...how I was going to lose that weight for one of those shows. Now, I just am who I am. And I don't need to change for anybody else — even when I see things online about people talking about my body or the way it fluctuates or this or that."

    Earlier this year, Bella also said that it wasn’t until she walked in a Savage x Fenty show that she felt sexy or powerful modeling lingerie on a runway — at which point she’d already walked in three Victoria’s Secret shows.

    Plus, Madonna recently put 50 Cent on blast after he criticized her for reposting a series of photos of herself.

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.