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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oniomania, otherwise known as Compulsive Spending

I thought I would start this blog with reality. Compulsive shopping is a true disorder. The medical term, according to Wikipedia, is Oniomania, the compulsive desire to shop. I italicized desire because desire indicates a feeling not necessarily an action. Feeling and doing are most likely related but not the same thing. So when a person who feels like shopping that doesn't mean, a) that the person will shop or b) that the person has to shop or c)that the person will buy something. It just means the person experiences an overwhelming urge to shop.

I make this distinction because I think in the treatment of compulsive shopping it is imperative to separate feelings from actions. I say this because as I am doing research for this blog I am finding tips on the internet that address compulsive shopping like things to do instead of shop, or things to do to keep yourself from shopping. For instance, go for a walk or take a bath... hmmm, that doesn't sound quite as enticing as say, Marc Jacobs shoes at Nordstrom, or a stroll through Target. My point is two fold. One, the suggestions offer actions to get rid of feelings which is a substitution for the symptom in the first place. And two, the suggestions are intellectual, rather than emotional, and therefore, the suggestions do not work in the long run because emotions typically override intelligence and what one "knows is right". I propose addressing Oniomania from an emotional point of view which would mean attempting to understand the feelings, and eventually tolerate them, rather than get rid of them. And, two, recognizing the resistance to do the right thing. For example, my favorite suggestion to stop compulsive shopping is to develop a budget, which, of course, there would be no compulsive shopping if one was able to follow a budget. From my theoretical perspective, I recommend writing down ten reasons to resist having a budget.

These 10 reasons will offer more insight into why compulsive shopping and not having a budget has a curative, purposeful effect on one's emotional life than any steps taken against the urge and action to compulsively shop. This new understanding can lead to sustained change over time as opposed to a quick fix.


  1. Hi,
    I found your blog very helpful. I need to know all I can from this illness. I have a mother who has compulsive spending. It has consumed her life! It has affected my relationship with her. I am now going to seek help in how to deal with this behavior that has grown larger than life.

  2. Thanks for your comment and I hope that the blog and it's resources can be helpful to you.

  3. Hi

    Please check out the page : " Addicted to Shopping: Oniomania" on FACEBOOK.

    Prof.Shiladitya Verma