Compulsive many causes of compulsive shopping disorder,

Compulsive shopping
disorder is a disorder in which the individual has an obsession with shopping
and buying which is driven by an irresistible and uncontrollable urge, leading
to a decline in personal and/or financial wellbeing. These consequences may
include debt, bankruptcy, anxiety, a strained relationship, declining physical
health and a ruined credit history. It is classified as an impulse control
disorder however it may also be classified as a dependence disorder. An
individual may begin as an impulsive shopper and develop into a compulsive
shopper who is dependent on shopping and buying consumer products. An impulsive
shopper does not think about their behaviour and the potential consequences of
their actions whereas a compulsive shopper will purposely shop or buy goods in
order to relieve stress, gain a feeling of euphoria or a ‘high’. The individual
shops to get the rush of brain chemicals, endorphins and hormones which relieves
their stress and anxiety. This involves the reward complex within the brain as
Yusuf has explained.

There are many sub-divisions of the shopping disorder including compulsion-shopping
addicts, bargain hunters, trophy hunters, collectors, flashy shopaholics and bulimic

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There are many causes
of compulsive shopping disorder, for many individuals there is a complex net of
causes which may have developed over time from when the individual was young. For
example, if every time the child was sad/ upset/ lonely, their parents allowed
them to buy a toy in order to make them happy and prevent them from crying. If
this continued over their life and upbringing then this may become a habit and
so every time the child was sad/ lonely/ stressed they would go and buy
something to help cope. Furthermore, individuals who have compulsive shopping
disorder may also have or be associated with other mental disorders such as
depression, anxiety and poor impulsive control. This means they are likely to
be attempting to treat symptoms of low esteem through compulsive shopping, this
would play on the reward complex as Yusuf explained.

shopping disorder can soon become a vicious downward cycle where the individual
becomes dependent on shopping, to relieve their stress and anxiety, especially
if it is not kept under control. As compulsive shopping will place further
strain on their relationships and finances, this can cause the individual to
resort in buying more things and more expensive things to achieve the same
level of satisfaction exacerbating the situation. This can result in serious
repercussions such as divorce, bankruptcy and ultimately suicide.

I also found that
the social environment also contributed to the cause of compulsive shopping
disorder, with the rise of consumerism and spending of money making this
disorder a relatively modern addiction. I will go on to speak about the
psychology behind consumerism and how companies manipulate the consumers’
emotions in order to persuade them to buy their products. This includes how
they use human’s innate desire to have closure and complete goals, with the
reward complex being particularly important here.

Companies and
brands have designed many different techniques in order to entice shoppers to
spend their money with them or buy their product. Many of the ways in which
companies entice consumers is to play on peoples’ emotions and use human’s
innate desires and characteristics. One way in which companies communicate with
the public is through advertisement. Many adverts portray their product or
service in a way that plays on peoples’ emotions such as sadness, guilt,
happiness, fear and anger. For example there was a famous thai advert called
“my father is a liar” where the father lies to his daughter in order to make
her happy. This insurance company values the love that parents have for their
children and showed the sacrifices parents are willing to make in order to make
their children happy with the aim of this advert being to persuade parents to
invest in a savings plan for children’s higher education.

Companies also
play on the fact that humans need to be environmentally responsible and look
after the Earth and its inhabitants. One of the ways they do this is by using
certain words, logos and phrases such as homemade, free range, eco-friendly.
This involves the reward complex, as by buying these products they gain
happiness that they are looking after the environment, minimizing animal
testing, habitat destruction and water and air pollution and contamination.

Furthermore, by
promote exclusivity companies aim to make the shopper feel special. They do
this by selling seasonal products only available at certain times or in certain
shops or by selling a limited supply of goods. This plays on the superiority
complex within the brain where people feel proud that they own limited edition
goods and products.

In his book Influence,
Cialdini uses the example of companies informing us that their product is the
“fastest-growing” or “best-selling.” He explains that companies don’t have
to persuade
us that their product is good but only need to portray that others
think so. Cialdini notes that consumers often use a simple phrase: “Popular
is good”. By following the crowd, we feel that we are acting in a
socially acceptable manor and also allows us to function in a complicated
environment. Another reason why we follow others is that many of us do not have
enough time to research everything we are going to buy in order to find the
best price. Instead, we rely on signals such as popularity
with the underlying reasoning that everyone cannot be buying something bad. In addition,
another reason others influence us is that humans are social and that there is
greater chance of success and survival if we work together. This is further
shown when we see an emptier shelf in the supermarket, as this suggests
popularity, here the sheep ideology comes through.


Companies also
manipulate the Rewards complex by using and advertising a loyalty scheme with
points working towards more discounts. By giving people a goal to work towards
they have a natural urge to work towards completing it, this is the same for
games. Humans like rewards, recognition and acknowledgement, and this can come
in different shapes and sizes, whether that be discounts, collectable badges,
accomplishment trophies, feedback etc so if companies can give consumers that
they have succeed in their job to attract buyers. Also, when children go to the
dentist or fair or similar things they may be given stickers, lollypops or
balloons. This sends signals to the reward complex and creates feelings of
happiness which if associated with the right thing such as a company or brand
will be beneficial to the company. Humans are creatures of habit and if a
mutually beneficially agreement can be made with a company then we will
continue to shop with the brand.

For the treatment
of Compulsive shopping disorder, there was a review of compulsive buying
disorder by the official journal of the world psychiatric association and they
found that there was a very limited list of treatment options available for
compulsive shopping disorder.

Available treatments for those
suffering from a compulsive buying disorder include a shopping addiction treatment
such as cognitive behavioural therapy from a treatment centre, therapist or
psychologist. This therapy will usually involve regular one on one type sessions,
the therapist or psychologist would talk to the patient to try to make them
aware of their actions and the underlying problems and also to try and change
their behavioural patterns and habits. However, since many of the causes and
underlying issues are psychological there is the lack of a quantified,
well-defined diagnosis and so there is currently no one drug used to tackle
this disorder. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as citalopram and
opioid antagonist such as naltrexone are upcoming promising drugs that may be
used for compulsive shopping disorder.


The patient will also be made aware of some possible
lifestyle changes that they could make in order to try and limit and control
their disorder.


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