Compulsive buying disorder

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Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying behavior that causes adverse consequences. According to Kellett and Bolton (2009, p. 83), compulsive buying "is experienced as an irresistible–uncontrollable urge, resulting in excessive, expensive and time-consuming retail activity [that is] typically prompted by negative affectivity" and results in "gross social, personal and/or financial difficulties".[1] Most people with CBD meet the criteria for an axis II disorder.

CBD is found in 5.8% of the United States population and may be almost as common in males as it is in females.[2]


CBD is frequently comorbid with mood, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders. People who score highly on compulsive buying scales tend to understand their feelings poorly and have low tolerance for unpleasant psychological states such as bad moods.[3] Onset of CBD occurs in the late teens and early twenties and is generally chronic. CBD is similar to, but distinguished from, OCD hoarding and mania. Compulsive buying is not limited to people who spend beyond their means; it also includes people who spend an inordinate amount of time shopping or who chronically think about buying things but never purchase them. Promising treatments for CBD include medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and support groups such as Debtors Anonymous.[4][5][6][7]

Identity seeking[edit]

A social psychological perspective suggests that compulsive buying serves an identity-construction function. Compulsive buying may be seen as an exaggerated form of a more normal search for validation through purchasing.[8] Without a strong sense of identity, pressures from the spread of materialist values and consumer culture over the recent decades can drive the vulnerable into compulsive shopping.[9]

In a global context where we are all encouraged to "shop till we drop"[10]—to find solace in possessions[11]—compulsive shopping inevitably poses the further question, "Minority pathology or Mass problem?".[9] With advertisements offering not so much products as narratives (of success, glamour) to identify with,[12] compulsive buying may seem only an extreme aspect of what consumer culture demands from us all.[13]


Treatment involves becoming conscious of the addiction through studying, therapy, group work, etc... Research done by Michel Lejoyeux and Aviv Weinstein suggests that the best possible treatment for CB is through cognitive behavioral therapy. They suggest that a patient first be "evaluated for psychiatric comorbidity, especially depression, so that appropriate pharmacological treatment can be instituted." Their research proves that patients who received cognitive behavioral therapy over 10 weeks had reduced episodes of compulsive buying and spent less time shopping as opposed to the patients who did not receive this treatment (251).

Lejoyeux and Weinstein also write about pharmacological treatment and the studies that have been done to question the use of drugs on CB. They declare "Few controlled studies have assessed the effects of pharmacological treatment on compulsive buying, and none have shown any medication to be effective" (252).

The most effective treatment is to attend therapy and group work in order to prevent the continuation of this addiction.[14][15]

Historical and cultural examples[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kellett, S., & Bolton, J. V. (2009). Compulsive buying : A cognitive-behavioural model. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 16, 83-99.
  2. ^ Koran, L. M., Faber, R. J., Aboujaoude, E., Large, M. D., & Serpe, R. T. (2006). Estimated prevalence of compulsive buying behavior in the United States. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163, 1806-1812.
  3. ^ Rose, Paul; Segrist, Daniel J (June 2012). "Difficulty Identifying Feelings, Distress Tolerance and Compulsive Buying: Analyzing the Associations to Inform Therapeutic Strategies". International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction 11 (1): 65–68. doi:10.1007/s11469-012-9389-y. ISSN 1557-1874. 
  4. ^ Hartston, Heidi J.; Koran, Lorrin M (June 2002). "Impulsive behavior in a consumer culture". International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice 6 (2): 65–68. doi:10.1080/136515002753724045. ISSN 1471-1788. 
  5. ^ Black, Donald W. (2001). "Compulsive Buying Disorder: Definition, Assessment, Epidemiology and Clinical Management.". CNS Drugs 15 (1): 17–27. doi:10.2165/00023210-200115010-00003. ISSN 1172-7047. OCLC 30488303. PMID 11465011. 
  6. ^ Black, Donald W. (February 2007). "A review of compulsive buying disorder". World Psychiatry 6 (1): 14–18. ISSN 1723-8617. OCLC 55586799. PMC 1805733. PMID 17342214. 
  7. ^ Vyse 2008, p. 28
  8. ^ Helga Dittmar/Emma Halliwell, Consumer Culture, Identity and Well-being (2008) p. 95-7
  9. ^ a b Dittmar/Halliwell, p. 97
  10. ^ Jenny Diski, The Sixties (London 2009) p. 18-20
  11. ^ Oliver James, Britain on the Couch (London 1998) p. 301
  12. ^ William Gibson, Zero History (London 2010) p. 21 and p. 213
  13. ^ Dittmar/Halliwell, p. 119
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ D. K. Goodwin, Team of Rivals (2013) p. 305, 401-2 and 681-2
  17. ^ Kate Cann, Hard Cash (London 2000) p. 218
  18. ^ Few controlled studies have assessed the effects of phar- macological treatment on compulsive buying, and none have shown any medication to be effective
  19. ^

External links[edit]