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Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth: A Life Guide for Inheritors Hardcover – January 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thayer Cheatham Willis was born into a world cushioned with wealth. Her father and his brother had built their lumber company into the success that today is Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Willis knows firsthand the comforts and the challenges inherent to the lives of those who have inherited great wealth.

Willis earned an MA in English from the University of Oregon and worked at writing, teaching, and leading counseling groups as an apprentice. Desiring to find ways to better help her peers with the emotional issues common to inheritors, she returned to graduate school to earn an MSW, leading to a License in Clinical Social Work.

Willis has a national reputation as an expert, caring presence in assisting people who are working through issues related to wealth. She has presented at numerous conferences, workshops, and seminars in connection with professional associations across the country.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 201 pages
  • Publisher: New Concord Press (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972549404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972549400
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #613,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

An internationally acclaimed author, educator, speaker, and leading authority in the area of wealth counseling, Thayer Cheatham Willis has been a licensed, practicing psychotherapist since 1990. Her primary focus is on facilitating a national and international clientele of inheritors and their families as they cope with the psychological challenges of wealth. A child of wealth herself, born into the founding family of the multinational Georgia-Pacific Corporation, she brings to her increasingly important field a unique insider's perspective on contending with family dynamics as they relate to the mental and emotional challenges of wealth.

Accredited with an M.A. from the University of Oregon and an M.S.W. from Portland State University, Thayer is a licensed clinical social worker, LCSW, specializing in wealth-related issues. Thayer offers over twenty years of hard-earned experience in a field she helped pioneer and dominates as one of its most prominent, foremost authorities. Working privately with a global client-base, she has helped thousands of inheritors and their families in six countries and four continents resolve wealth-related family conflicts.

Noted for her eloquent yet down-to-earth, no-nonsense, practical approach, Thayer has earned an international reputation as a renowned expert, charismatic educator, motivating presenter and inspiring keynote speaker. Her interactive approach to her specialty of relationship dynamics among families of wealth is based on field-tested methods that clarify and facilitate understanding, problem-solving and action-planning. Particularly proficient in assisting clients to create pathways between generations, Thayer helps clients prioritize parenting tasks while instilling financial responsibility in younger family members.

Thayer is the author of Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth: A Life Guide for Inheritors. This invaluable handbook for families on the difficult journey to freedom beyond wealth serves, in her own words, "a largely invisible, often misrepresented, long underserved population that commonly struggles with the psychological challenges inherent in the stewardship of wealth." Thayer has wrtitten many articles for Worth Magazine and writes a quarterly newsletter, available on her website. She also has been interviewed for top financial publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Business Journal and Time Magazine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Richard Trachtman, Ph.D. on April 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a book for anyone who has to deal with the challenges of wealth, but it is especially for the rich who either have inherited large amounts of wealth or expect to pass such wealth on to their children. It is written in a clear, compelling, easy style. In it, Thayer Cheatham Willis, who is both an accomplished psychotherapist and an inheritor of substantial wealth herself, shares both her own very personal experiences dealing with the pitfalls of her inheritance and her professional observations of the many patients she has treated for problems related to inherited wealth.
Most people who are not acquainted with the realities of being wealthy imagine that it is an idyllic condition. But, as Ms Willis came to realize, when she learned of the fifth suicide among her peers from the beautiful, sheltered neighborhood of her childhood, wealth does indeed have its dark side. The patients she describes suffer from guilt, poor self-esteem and problems with interpersonal relationships, as well as lack of a sense of drive, purpose, motivation to be productive and the discipline to stick to goals and accomplish what they set out to do. Happiness, for many of them is elusive despite the fact that inheritors may have a sense of entitlement. The fact that they can afford to have whatever they want, without having to struggle to earn it, may rob them of the challenges which foster healthy personal development in others. Because of the envy and resentment they encounter when they do reveal their circumstances, it is also difficult for many wealthy people to develop and sustain relationships with others, especially those not of similar financial status.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Davis Virginia Tech on August 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As an author of three regional-bestsellers and a book reviewer for a metropolitan paper with a circulation of more than 100,000, I read with great interest Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth, A Life Guide for Inheritors, by Thayer Cheatham Willis because I (an average middle class American) grew up with a friend that my classmates used to call "the poor little rich girl." After reading the book, I gave it to my friend because I thought it was insightful, useful, and a valuable tool as she herself is still trying to establish "normalcy" even at age 57. Very little emotional nurturing seems to come out of wealthy families, and that sad deprivation was noticeable enough to my friends of youth for them to realize that our very wealthy classmate was indeed the poorest of us all when it came to what matters the most in life.
While some may mock this book, the truth is it is hard for most people not to resent people of means and harbor bitterness or jealousy over not having financial wealth. It is only human nature. If you can get past this attitude, you will recognize that the book is long overdue for people on either side of the wealth line to understand the dynamics of what money does and does not do. It's an honest book.
It's also very well articulated and presents discussions on several levels, from a basic primer to the more sophisticated challenges wealth presents. The author, who has a national psychotherapy practice specializing in the needs of inheritors, sprinkles her personal experience with those of her clients. She sensitively covers the gamut of topics that inheritors must deal with, including the spiritual, which in this day of political correctness would be ignored by most writers.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kerri Patrick, CFP, CLU, ChFC on August 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put this book down while reading it on the airplane. It's frank and to the point, yet gentle and hopeful; it offers practical and common sense suggestions to inheritors of great wealth; and it's written by someone who herself was an inheritor of great wealth. Thayer Willis has the unique gift of blending her personal story with the stories of other "real people" who sit in her office on a daily basis and share with her their heartfelt fears, disillusionment, and hopelessness that often plagues them (inheritors). She offers some very practical and positive guidance to inheritors who deal with the issues of the "dark side of wealth". As a financial planner, I'd say this is a must read if you are working with high net worth families and their children. You will catch a glimpse of the myriad of issues that face wealthy families now, and that will be facing those families' future generations. Also, by being more aware of these issues, you can help bring inherent value to your clients by letting them know of the availability and the genuine hope that a good "wealth counselor" can bring...and Thayer Willis is one of the few leading the charge.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Pat Ouasri on August 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In over forty years of working with and counseling persons of unusual wealth (millionaires and beyond) Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth appears out of the blue at this most critical hour in world economic history.
There have been other outstanding books for the rich across the years such as Amy Domini's The Challenges of Wealth, Robert Wuthnow's God and Mammon in America, and The Crisis in the Churches: Spiritual Malaise, Fiscal Woe. But none that are as inspiring and practically helpful in my opinion.
This book written by a professionally trained psychotherapist who just happens to write very personally from her experience of being from a very wealthy family and a co-owner of a major Fortune 500 corporation stands to be a classic in the field, if there ever was one.
While written for persons of inherited wealth, this book provides great help and hope for all who are affluent.
Donald McClanen
Founder and former Director of Ministry of Money
Founder and Director of Harvest Time programs for the wealthy
(See Barron's September 18, 2000)
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