Because the big spending season is upon us, I thought it would be a good time to direct attention to WHY people shop. More than 18 million Americans are shopaholics and many more haven’t yet been identified. Instead of shopping to purchase necessities, shopaholics use the experience as a source of self-definition, self-expression, creativity or healing.
Rather than enhancing quality of life, however, the shopping becomes problematic when a shopper goes into debt and experiences feelings of guilt and anger. Another difficulty arises when the shopper continue to buy things and has no place to put them, leading to a disordered home environment.
Compulsive shoppers compare their experience to the “high” a narcotics user gets. Afterward, they are left feeling empty and search for the familiar sensation that buying and acquiring give them. They don’t buy things to use or enjoy, necessarily; rather, the activity of shopping is the enticement.
If you or someone you know is addicted to shopping, I recommend two books: To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop by Dr. April Benson and SPENT: Memoirs of a shopping addict by Avis Cardella.
Dr. Benson’s books are more clinically based, while Cardella’s book tells about her years dealing with a shopping addiction. Both of them have a lot to offer to people who are dealing with shopping addiction. There is a lot of free information about the condition, including a downloadable self-assessment on Dr. Benson’s site.
Do you shop only when you need to replace something? Have you ever felt that you were becoming a shopping addict?