Psychologist: lottery win may spell misery

The couple who scooped a record-breaking £56 million on the EuroMillions lottery may be facing a life of despair, a money psychologist has warned.

Nigel Page, a handyman, and Justine Laycock, a senior sales negotiator at an estate agent, are celebrating their EuroMillions windfall and have both since quit their jobs.

Dr Chris Boyce, an economic psychologist, argued that: “Money, as the age-old truism goes, does not buy you happiness”.

He said that “suddenly acquiring lots of money disrupts every aspect of our lives”.

“Someone who lives in a modest home with a close circle of good friends and neighbours may take one of several courses of action when he wins the lottery”, said Dr Boyce.

“He may think it judicious to stay in his familiar surroundings, but upgrade his run-down semi with a millionaire makeover, installing a pool in the back garden and planting several flashy new cars on the drive.”

But Dr Boyce commented: “I suspect he’ll quickly discover that his neighbours will resent the flashy accoutrements and be consumed with envy”.

Press reports say the family plan to move from their £235,000 three-bedroom semi in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, to a six-bedroom detached, ideally with a pool. But they want to stay in the same area where their children enjoy school and have lots of friends.

But the psychologist argued that moving house will leave the couple’s friends “no less jealous”.

Dr Boyce commented that the couple, in quitting their jobs, will certainly lose “another vital component of a joyful life – connection with other people”.

He said: “We do not appreciate – until we don’t have it any longer – how important this day-to-day commerce is. How will Mr Page and Mrs Laycock fill their days from now on?

“Without the discipline and structure provided by their jobs, there is a very real danger that their lives will lack purpose; their sense of self-worth will plummet”.

Dr Boyce added that his own research had shown how “psychologically devastating the loss of a job can be”.

He said: “It so often results in depression brought on by the sheer sense that life has lost its purpose”.

He added: “I’d suggest that most of us who enjoy our work are driven more by the rewards of achievement, by that inner glow of satisfaction that comes from doing a job really well, than by the money we earn. All that is lost to the lottery winner.”

In January one of Britain’s youngest lottery millionaires was found dead alone in his home.

Stuart Donnelly, who was 17 when he won £2 million in 1997, had become a recluse as he struggled to cope with his new found wealth.

In a 2003 interview Mr Donnelly said: “It was very hard to deal with all the attention I got”.

“It put a huge strain on me and my family”, he added.

In November last year a national newspaper cited a survey of 30 of the biggest jackpot winners and said it branded the lottery “Britain’s biggest marriage wrecker” when it found that a third of respondents said their lives had been blighted by their new found fortune.

Families had fallen apart, marriages had ended and envy had destroyed friendships, the survey reportedly revealed.

Since the start of the National Lottery a number of jackpot winners have admitted misery because of their windfall.

Last year Callie Rogers, 22, who won close to £1.9 million as a teenager in 2003, revealed that she is now facing bankruptcy.

She admitted her life was a “shambles” and the money she won had not made her happy.

Michael Carroll, a former dustman, won £9.7million in 2002 but claimed it had made him miserable.

After he won the jackpot, his wife Sandra left him and took their baby daughter with her. Mr Carroll turned to cocaine, was jailed and was later served with two anti-social behaviour orders.

In 1999 Stephanie Powell won £7.2million, but her family life began to break down as a result.

Her partner Wayne Lawrence walked out on her, claiming the stress of her riches as his reason.

Research published last summer warned that the lives of lottery winners could be cut short due to excessive alcohol-fuelled partying.

In 1999 Phil Kitchen, a jobless carpenter, won £1.8 million but two years later was found dead in his £500,000 home after drinking himself to death.

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