Apr 21, 2009

something shopaholics might want to know

Bonjour! I write this thinking that this might be a subject of interest for my fellow shopaholics.

“With a surge of excitement I hurry toward the Barkers Centre. I won’t go mad, I promise myself. Just one little treat to see me through. I’ve already got my cardigan --- so not clothes … and I bought some new kitten heels the other day --- so not that … although there are some nice Prada-type shoes in Hobbs … Hmmm. I’m not sure.
I arrive at the cosmetics department of Barkers and suddenly I know. Makeup! That’s what I need. A new mascara and maybe a new lipstick…”

-Rebecca Bloomwood, Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Shopping, who doesn’t love shopping? Every girl’s mind run a tad wild the moment they enter the mall, and why not? Shopping is simply a joy. It makes one feel great; and when the gloom sinks in, shopping chases the woes away.

If you’re a fan of the Tyra show, you’ve probably seen the episode on compulsive shoppers. If you missed it, then, did you know that some have been divorced and others tried in court for the crime of excessive shopping?

Well, basically, shopping is not a crime and so is excessive shopping. The root of the catch lies in the reality that some people shop way beyond their means. Just like emotional eaters, some, if not most women turn to shopping to temporarily evade anything and everything that stresses them. However not all have the resources to pay for this stress-buster, and this is where the delinquency begins.

Rewinding a little bit to the part where people resort into shopping to treat pressure --- this is called retail therapy. Its history dates back to Christmas Eve of 1986 where a sentence in the Chicago Tribune read, “We’ve become a nation measuring out our lives in shopping bags and nursing our psychic ills through retail therapy.”

Here’s more history. In the late 1800s, German and Swiss psychiatrists by the names of Emil Kraepelin and Eugen Bleuler formed the theory of shopping addiction or compulsive shopping, otherwise known in the 21st century as shopaholism. Of course this concept has symptoms, but the pathognomonic sign is this: the irrepressible and unmanageable desire to shop. Kraepelin came up with the word “oniomania” which is Greek in origin, “onios” which means “for sale” and “mania” meaning “insanity”. At the moment, only the Deutsche Gesellshcaft Zwangserkrankungen, has recognized oniomania as a psychiatric disorder.

Oniomania for the most part hits people who are emotionally unstable or who get easily depressed. These people fall back on shopping especially when subjected to trickles of off-putting sentiments. So, off they go to hinterlands of shopping precincts.

More facts are these. Serotonin, a brain chemical, as all of us in the medical and paramedical arena know, has something to do with mood and its control. Shopping or the act of it, according to psychiatrists, causes an increase in serotonin levels. In depression, serotonin is low; therefore shopping is a way of stabilizing the mood. A psychiatrist at the Stanford Medical School, Lorin M. Koran says, “The point of the buying is not to have, but to enjoy the pleasures of shopping.”

While inside the edifice of expenditures, an air of high is felt as the compulsive shopper frolics and wounds around in the stalls of commodities. The aim of evading the sense of doom is accomplished but sadly, shortly after exiting paradise, a rebound is experienced. The positive spirit wanes and is then replaced by gloom. Because of the refusal and intolerance to feel stressed, the oniomaniac then goes back and embark in another shopping bout. The cycle repeats. And mind you, this is not wholly exclusive to the female species; reports and statistics claim that men have also fallen into prey.

What are the buys, you may ask. Well, it’s a mixture of necessary and a majority of unnecessary etceteras. However the upshot of compulsive shopping is not as delightful as purchasing sounds. As the cases in the Tyra show revealed: deep debts, mammoth credit card debits, separation and/or divorce, economic failure, and even theft; while some have opted a rather tragic end: suicide.

Was our heroine, Becky Bloomwood an oniomaniac? I’m not at all sure. The thing is, she recovered and got back on her feet. There is nothing wrong about being a shopaholic and stress-shopping, as long as we keep ourselves in check. Knowing this stuff helps in taming and moderating the inevitable hobby of every girl, shopping. Knowing keeps us grounded.

Au revoir, fellow shopaholics! ‘Til the next shopping spree!