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Not surprisingly, statistics show that woman tend to report feeling depressed
more than men, and may be more amenable to seeking therapeutic help via
shopping. Women with this compulsive disorder often have racks of clothes and
possessions with the price tags still attached which have never been used. They
will go to a shopping mall with the intention of buying one or two items and
come home with bags and bags of purchases. In some cases, shopaholics have
an emotional “black out” and do not remember even buying the articles. If their
family or friends begin to complain about their purchases, they will often hide
the things they buy. They are often in denial about the problem. Because they
cannot pay their bills, they often drown in debt.
addiction problem. Another red flag is
lying; if you lie about your shopping in an
effort to cover up what is really going on,
there could be a problem. And finally, if
you feel guilty after a shopping spree, this
again, can indicate that you could have a
Root Causes
Quite often, adults who have learned to
attach emotional wellbeing to material
objects can be led into believing that
shopping is the way to make themselves
feel better, points out Sridharan. “With
some individuals, they may have grown
up always wanting affection, time and
attention from their primary caregivers,
but have instead been given gifts and
toys,” she explains therefore these
individuals tend to link happiness and
security to objects. “So every time they
acquire something new, they feel loved,
wanted and whole,” she says. And those
individuals who have issues regarding
their belief in themselves and lack self-
esteem can try to compensate by using
acquisition of objects as a proof of how
much they are worth. These individuals
versus Abnormal
Researchers estimate that up to 6 percent of
Americans are so-called shopaholics. There
are many social and cultural factors that
tend to increase the addictive potential of
shopping and spending. The easy availability
of credit and the material focus of society
in general, encourage people to accumulate
possessions now and worry about financial
responsibility later. Purchasing has also
been made easier with the availability of on-
line shopping and TV shopping networks
devoted to selling goods 24 hours a day.
Unfortunately, Sridharan explains that this
behaviour isn’t yet thought of as a serious
problem. “Compulsive shopping disorder
can go unchecked for years, especially with
those individuals who don’t live on a budget,”
she says and has not been given the same
attention as other addictions and negative
behaviours. Therefore it is not very common
to find a person seeking help for this but
rather, Sridharan explains, “More common
are individuals who seek professional help for
the accompanying symptoms of depression,
anxiety, self-esteem issues and need for
affirmation from material gain.”
often associate their identity with what and
how much they own.
The Perils of Shopping
Shopping addiction, reinforces Sridharan,
is a serious problem and can cause people
a number of difficulties. “People who
associate wellbeing to things will constantly
need to acquire new objects which can
obviously then place a tremendous strain
on financial resources,” she says so the
lower a person feels, often the larger the
acquisition. “And as is the case with any
addiction, the individual can begin to
isolate themselves and withdraw from social
contact, depending more on the process of
buying and the objects they buy for their
happiness,” she says, and these people are
often unable to function normally in their
daily lives and look for the “high” moments
wherever they can. “In extreme cases,
individuals who have such a problem can
cause damage to their relationships, often
putting their need for shopping before their
partners, children, and family,” she says. The
strain on their finances, she adds, can lead
to excessive borrowing and even stealing to
satisfy the spending habit.
Jan/Feb 2014