Sudden Wealth Loss Syndrome

““Show me a good loser and I’ll show you an idiot.”” –  Leo Durocher

Want to catch the next new trend in mental health? How about a business that caters to all the Internet investors who find their mania-based stock-market wealth suddenly disappearing?

A Silicon Valley psychotherapist has done just that.

Two years ago, Stephan Goldbart, Ph.D., formed the Money, Meaning, and Choices Institute ( to help people deal with issues and symptoms due to the “stress” of sudden wealth. Goldbart labeled the problem “Sudden Wealth Syndrome.”

“They had problems dealing with the values, issues, and life choices that come along with wealth,” he says. “The stress was destroying their lives, families, relationships, mental, physical, and emotional health.”

But when the Internet bubble burst in March and share prices started plummeting, many of Goldbart’s clients found themselves with a new problem – and for Dr. Goldbart a new disorder to treat – “Sudden Wealth Loss Syndrome (SWLS).” 

One client, Goldbart says, watched his options take a value dive from $15 million to $7. The guilt and stress were horrible, he explains. “He was beating himself up, asking himself why he didn’t diversify, why he didn’t see the collapse coming.”

According to the good doctor, sufferers of SWLS can lose sleep, get moody, feel like a failure, or feel stupid. “They come to realize that they had confused financial well-being for emotional well-being. And that they didn’t look ahead in life beyond the next quarter,” he says.

Another sufferer had to return his two-month-old $250,000 Ferrari to the dealership where he bought it. He needed cash and his options had plummeted in value. “Fortunately for him,” Goldbart says, “Ferraris have a high resale value – at least better than his stock.”