Can You Really Be Addicted To Shopping?

Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.

Every so often, when a celebrity enters rehab for something not normally regarded as addictive, the media gets into an argument over definitions: can behaviors that don't involve altered states of consciousness truly be described as addictions? Or are we simply using public awareness of drug and alcohol dependence to condemn certain behaviors — or garner sympathy?

Into that category falls the problem of shopping addiction, a dependence which is aided by no chemicals or potions whatsoever (unless a stray spritz of department store perfume counts). Yet various psychologists argue that for some people, shopping ranks up there alongside booze and hard drugs as a serious addiction that can wreak real havoc on lives and credit ratings. And, somewhat surprisingly, they look to be correct.

The idea of compulsive shopping as a problem actually dates to the very beginnings of the 20th century, where two separate theorists identified it and called it oniomania, or excessive buying. One of them, Eugen Bleuler, wrote in 1924:

“The particular element is impulsiveness; they cannot help it, which sometimes even expresses itself in the fact that not withstanding a good school intelligence, the patients are absolutely incapable to think differently and to conceive the senseless consequences of their act, and the possibilities of not doing it. They do not even feel the impulse, but they act out their nature like the caterpillar which devours the leaf”.

Modern science, however, has given us more of an understanding of how the psychology of shopping addiction works, what spurs it, and how it may be cured. Bustle talked to addiction expert Dr. Carder Stout about the realities of shopping addiction and how it works.

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