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Sadly, there are many instances of lottery winners for whom the prize brought misery and sadness, even loss of life, instead of happiness. The first thing to say that is, as psychologists we must reiterate that ALL life changing events cause disruption of some sort in a person’s life. This includes even the happy times in a person’s life. For example, the joy that a new baby brings also may cause exhaustion, loss of freedom and even jealousy in a partner. Being head over heels in love with a new sweetheart may cause physical or psychological illness such as lack of sleep, weight loss or irregular heart rhythms. So, too, it is with money!
Going from penury or slogging long hours every day for an unsympathetic boss just to pay the rent on a home you’re never in is stress of one sort. But so too is shock. Even a life shock like winning millions can disturb a person’s personality and life rhythms so much that it becomes damaging to physical and emotional health. Lack of sleep and over-stimulation are familiar first symptoms of prize win events. Then comes disruption of daily routine, which later bring profound and often irreversible changes. For example, a person may desperately want to give up a hated job, not realising how much he depended on chummy colleagues for daily socialization and moral support. Ex-colleagues may not be able to hide their envy and hostility and rejection may result, leaving the prize winner isolated and lonely, having to buy new false fairweather friends. The same is true for that life-giving and nurturing support network - the family. members who can’t be helped indefinitely may become threatening, abusive or rejecting with the result that the prizewinner ends up feeling used and unwanted for his real self. neighbours may be missed and home sickness may ensue when a house move becomes necessary in order to protect privacy and identity and for security reasons. What happens if a couple both want different things? Rows may ensue and relationship breakdown can occur, affecting children and spouses adversely. Then there is the issue of will power when the opportunity to have a surfeit of what is bad for body and mind is possible. Drugs, alcohol and unhealthy food all await and an unloved isolated friendless and lonely person can wake up one day wondering what went wrong. So that is why big prizewinners often have counselling and therapy nowadays - because the change can be a negative one for emotional wellbeing.
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