Compulsive buying disorder

Compulsive buying disorder

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying behavior that causes adverse consequences. Most persons with CBD meet the criteria for an axis II disorder.

CBD is found in 5.8% of the United States population, approximately 80% of those affected are female.



CBD is frequently comorbid with mood, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders. 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.[1][2][3][4]

Evolutionary psychology

Evolutionary psychology has noted that 'compulsive buying seems to occur globally' and that 'the majority of sufferers are women', as well as that there are 'commonalities and differences between compulsive buying and other forms of compulsive consumption'.[5] Building on the way 'compulsive buying is a mood-enhancing mechanism', the fact that 'most purchases made by women in a compusive-buying episode seem to be linked to appearance-enhancing products, thus suggests that the compulsive "loop" is related to social risks associated with looking unattractive'.[6]

Identity seeking

In terms of social psychology, 'excessive, uncontrolled buying of consumer goods can be understood as a form of identity extreme form of identity seeking through material goods that lies on a continuum with everyday psychologically motivated buying'.[7] Against the background of 'the transformations of consumer culture over the last few decades, this model focuses on endorsement of materialistic values and identity deficits as vulnerability factors for compulsive buying'.[8]

In the globalized context of a consumerist system that has 'specialised in generating and then granting the wishes of human beings and thereby ruling the world' - where we are all encouraged to 'shop till we drop';[9] to 'seek solace in material possessions'[10] - CB inevitably poses the question, 'Minority pathology or Mass problem?'.[8] When 'all across the economically liberal world, the banks treated financial irresponsibility as a valuable commodity, cheap credit was everywhere',[11] and it was a point of social pride to be able to say 'my credit card is so far into the red it's turning purple'[12] - when 'consumers don't buy products so much as self-identify as'[13] - such 'identity seeking through consumption combines with a consumerist culture infrastructure...[as] an important dimension of compulsive buying'.[14]


The possibility has also been raised that 'virtual compulsive buying could be a future trend that effects young consumers of both genders'.[14]

See also


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Vyse 2008, p. 28
  5. ^ Gad Saad, The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption (2007) p. 261 and p. 159
  6. ^ Saad, p. 260 and p. 263
  7. ^ Helga Dittmar/Emma Halliwell, Consumer Culture, Identity and Well-being (2008) p. 95 and p. 97
  8. ^ a b Dittmar/Halliwell, p. 97
  9. ^ Jenny Diski, The Sixties (London 2009) p. 18-20
  10. ^ Oliver James, Britain on the Couch (London 1998) p. 301
  11. ^ John Lanchester, Whoops! (London 2010) p. 4
  12. ^ Kate Cann, Hard Cash (London 2000) p. 218
  13. ^ William Gibson, Zero History (London 2010) p. 21 and p. 213
  14. ^ a b Dittmar/Halliwell, p. 119


  • Vyse, Stuart (2008). Going broke: why Americans can't hold on to their money. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195306996. OCLC 153773333. 

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