The poor girls who are LOADED.
Falteringly, they tell their stories - and it is a relief to share their secret shame after so many years.
But these poor women are not addicts or victims... or even poor. In fact, they are MEGA-RICH.
They have come to America's most exclusive support group, Resourceful Women, to learn how to cope with their millions.
Gathering just a stone's throw from San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Bridge, they discuss the millionaire mopes they dare not mention even to their psychiatrists...
Like how to tell who your real friends are and the difficulties of dating - like when to tell him about your abnormal bank account.
The tricky dilemma of how to SPEND all those troublesome millions is another problem. The organisation's executive director Judy Bloom said: "Most people think that if only they had a million dollars, they wouldn't have any problems.
"But what if you do have money and are having problems? Who is going to have any sympathy for you? No one."
Some of the women, who fork out just pounds 130 a year to join Resourceful Women, have just ignored their cash for years.
Judy said: "Most of the inheritors, when they come in here, say they didn't want to have to deal with all this. It's such a big responsibility."
The group - which also helps self-made millionaires - aims to help the women shoulder that burden.
And it sees itself as feminist and revolutionary, because it is helping women to take charge of their cash - so they can hopefully put it to good use and help change the world.
It was founded back in the early eighties by Pilsbury bread heiress Tracy DuVivier Gary, who inherited a pounds 2 million a year trust fund on her 21st birthday.
She flew to a college interview in the family helicopter and was always told by bankers not to bother her pretty little head about her cash.
But then she became an anti-Vietnam protester, was horrified to discover that so much of her money was invested in defence companies and decided to start looking after it herself.
Strident Barbara Stanny, 50, was one of her group's first members - and one of its big success stories. Today, she is the author of a suitably feminist book called Prince Charming Isn't Coming.
She is determined to teach women how to manage their cash, without waiting for Mr Right to come along and rescue them.
But when she first turned up at the group she was "a mess", with a compulsive Wall-Street gambler for a husband.
Matters reached a head when her hubby fled the country, leaving her with a million-dollar tax bill - and neither the bank nor her dad would bail her out.
The heiress to a huge accounting fortune confessed: "I was very scared. I didn't know how much money I had or where it was.
"Now I feel very strong. If somebody asked me if I felt wealthy, I would say yes. I understand my money, I manage it and I feel in control of it."
Michele McGeoy, 37, turned to the group for support, after she sold her computer software firm for a seven-figure sum. Managing money wasn't her problem - working out how to use it to do good was.
She admitted: "Most people who hear about this will go `Oh please! Rich whining women. Why do they want a support group?'
"But this is a group that wants to make sure we do the right thing with our wealth.
"I did make enough money so I could have lived comfortably for the rest of my life. I could have just sat back and enjoyed it and I did try that - but it didn't feel right to me."
Now she's found meaning in her life, has become a fully fledged philanthropist and is on Resourceful Women's board of directors.
It's enough to make you glad you haven't won the lottery...
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|Publication:||Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Oct 18, 1998|
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