‘Tis the Season to Buy Drugs: Are You a Shopaholic?

Found this mention of oniomania, purported new entrants into DSM-V. Said article has the following tempting title: “Getting the Id to Go Shopping: Psychoanalysis, Advertising, Barbie Dolls, and the Invention of the Consumer Unconscious.” The digest version is:

  1. Big Pharma creates both supply and demand. Once a diagnosis is in the DSM marketing can begin in earnest.
  2. Research on oinomania funded by Forest Laboratories, Inc.
  3. That research found drugs they manufacture, Celexa and Lexapro, were pharmaceutical “cure” for oinomania.
  4. No mention of potential sources of shopping mania, finding a meaning. That would be the realm of talk therapy.

Here’s some of the text:

Following the news that oniomania, otherwise known as compulsive spending or shopaholism, will be recognized as a clinical disorder in the next diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association, watchdogs of the mind-control industries have been quick to note the “coincidence” that a Stanford University research team’s recent discovery of a pharmaceutical “cure” for oniomania was funded by a pharmaceutical company. Compulsive shoppers, it seems, will be encouraged to make one more purchase: a daily pill to make it all better.

Marketing a cure for a new disorder “itself an effect of excessive marketing” means first marketing the disorder. Some critics of the pharmaceutical companies “power to create simultaneous supply and demand for products like the shopaholic pill have responded by advocating the more traditional and personally ’empowering’ recourse of psychotherapy”varieties of the ‘talking cure’ as the better response to oniomania.

Such was the approach of the TV talk show program Oprah when it tackled compulsive spending as a self-help issue in 1994. Oprah’s guest expert was writer Neale Godfrey, coauthor of Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees (1994), who talked his audience through various cognitive and behavior-modification strategies to deal with an inability to control their spending. However, as Jane Shattuc complained of Oprah’s program in her book The Talking Cure: TV Talk Shows and Women: typically, “there was no attempt to ascertain the sources of unrestrained buying.”

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Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.


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Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

2 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season to Buy Drugs: Are You a Shopaholic?”

  1. Are you really surprised by this though? We can all agree Big Pharma is a growth industry and each year we become more dependent upon their pills for our internal and external aches. We have more power to influence our lives and even heal conditions like this obsessive buying behavior. For example, I was surprised to find many lifestyle changes that helped my OCD quiet down – without DRUGS! However, is that not why pills are so popular…. because it is the path of least resistence?


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