LET’S TALK ABOUT…..SHOPAHOLICS!!! “Shop til we drop!” is a common phrase as you are planning a day of shopping with your friends. There are movies, games, jokes about Shopaholics—but being a Shopaholic is serious.
One of my clients, that I treated several years back for being a shopaholic, recently dropped by to update me. We both agreed that this would be a great topic to spread the word through my column.
Her husband had originally brought her to me because their marriage was in real danger. “I just can’t do this anymore.” he said as I was interviewing both of them. He explained that they had already declared bankruptcy for over $150K in “shopping” related expenses, and, lost their home because they couldn’t meet the mortgage.
A “shopaholic” is someone that is a frequent shopper that is unable to control spending. The husband of my client reported that she had an entire wall of the garage lined with tubs that contained items she purchased that still had price tags on them.
Shopaholics fall under a psychiatric disorder group known as obsessive compulsive behavior spectrum disorders that include over spending, employee theft, hoarding, as well as shoplifting/kleptomania.
I had never treated a shopaholic, but, an assessment indicated that she met the criteria for “addiction”.
According to a Stanford University Landmark Study, “approximately 17 million Americans are compulsive shoppers/spenders”. Another report by the Journal of Consumer Research puts the number closer to 25 million.
Terrance Shulman, Director of The Shulman Center for Spending, Theft, and Hoarding, and, author of “Something for Nothing”, says that shopaholics have “a sense of entitlement….life is not fair issues….they get a rush from risk taking.”
The first thing I did was bring her husband aboard with the agreement that he would take all forms of currency—cash, credit cards, checks, etc—away from her; she would not be allowed to even go to the grocery store. He faithfully did this.
He called three days later to say that he was worried about her because she had become very depressed, has been in bed since our appointment, and is suffering from sweats, vomiting, and loss of other bodily fluids. The same bodily reaction any person with addiction experiences when they stop their drugs—She was withdrawing.
She and I diligently worked on identifying her “issues”; which, as Shulman pointed out, centered around her lifetime sense of feeling she was never treated fairly from child to adult. On this recent visit, she said “What it really was about is my husband’s vision of a lifestyle that I didn’t fit into.”
The entire time she was working on her “addiction”, HE! was buying toys: a motorcycle, golf clubs, a motor home. It was like a recovering drug addict living with a drug dealer.
Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce. “I’m doing much better now.” she reported. While I do shop, I am not overspending and I think about ‘why’ I am buying things.”
If you think you may be having problems with spending, hoarding, shoplifting, go to http://www.shopaholicsanonymous.org/facts.htm and take their self-test.
If you need help, contact someone that is a Certified Addiction Councilor to help you.
Of course, it is just my opinion.
Glad we talked.
“Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield, OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at http://www.springfieldtimes.net/.
This column is reprinted on the internet at HealerToday.com. You can comment on this article and make suggestions for future columns, at maxfabry@HealerToday.com.
Or, snail mail your topics to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440.