It’s called poor impulse control, people

It’s a psychological problem. But let’s relegate out of control shopping to a brain disorder too, so people can have one less thing to take responsibility for. This is really getting ridiculous. Pretty soon we won’t be responsible for any of our bad behavior as it all becomes pathologized and out of our hands. And you can be sure they’ll be a drug for it, too. Since they’re calling it OCD related it’s a good bet they’ll try out SSRIs.

From the NY Times: Attention, Shopaholics Your Weakness May Be a Proper Disease

First there was John A. Thain’s $87,000 rug. Then there was Citigroup’s planned $50 million corporate jet.

Then the world of politics got involved this week when the New York State inspector general released a report saying that Antonia C. Novello, the former state commissioner of health, had such an ingrained tendency for shopping that she had employees from her office squire her on buying expeditions to Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and three different Albany-area malls.

Ill-advised shopping has certainly turned up recently in the news, and yet the issue also forms the core of a much more contentious and continuing debate. As spenders spend while the economy plummets, the psychiatric world is trying to decide whether compulsive buying should actually be considered a disease. (rest of the article here)

12 thoughts on “It’s called poor impulse control, people

  1. Jane,

    “Some people are so out of touch with their inner world that they are incapable of honest self review, self analysis, self diagnosis and self therapy.”

    You said it all…..

    “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” – Pogo



  2. This will be remembered in the future as the era when quack psychiatrists, sham research and profit motivated pseudoscience conned the general public.

    An era when people were fooled into thinking that shopping sprees or having sex with three different people in as many days meant they had an incurable genetic chemical imbalance pulling their strings. An illness that required lifelong medication.

    Some people are so out of touch with their inner world that they are incapable of honest self review, self analysis, self diagnosis and self therapy.

    No one ever taught me when I was growing up. I had to take time out to go learn how to do that on my own.


  3. This reminds me of that new conditon called “Sleep Sex”, as it would seem that a lot of people are now using this conditon to get off from crimes such as “rape”, “stalking” and “marital unfaithfulness” – i.e, both men and women.

    For those of you who think that I am exaggerating, well, you should also consider those most famous “Stars”, who have used “Bipolar Disorder”, to excuse them from above, as well as from serving prison sentences.

    As a rule, it is certain elements in the Psychiatric community, who are possibly receiving generous payments, and thus are bringing mental illness and it’s victims a slanderous name of disrepute.

    So, there we have it, mental illness is now used as a guise, (by the financially well-off, peers and pillars of society), for every social ill there is, in order to avoid imminent justice.


  4. There’s a very interesting video you can google called “The Story of Stuff”. The narrator points out that during the 911 crisis, our former pres. did not tell us to grieve, or pray. No, what we were encouraged to do was, you guessed it, SHOP! Our culture and society has mastered the art of mixed messages. I know I grew up with them. Is it any wonder we are confused. Seems to be a sadly, but all too common practice for the large corporate organizations to exploit our confusion. And it’s done with such an obscenely clear message. We want you to shop until it becomes a diagnosable dysfunction, then you can spend some more money having it treated with drugs you don’t need, that won’t help, and as an extra added bonus, may carry a potentially fatal side-effect. I wonder where it all ends sometimes. This is a point, if I am lucky, I am reminded of who I am becoming. I am able to acknowledge the blessing of knowing I have a choice about such things. I can look for a way to drop my own tendency towards sarcasm and finger-pointing, take a look in the mirror and ask myself if am I reflecting back as part of the solution or part of the problem. Please take a few minutes to check out the video, if you are so inclined. I believe it shares a good message that is worth passing on.
    Many Blessings to you


  5. Gianna,

    I’ve been feeling a strong urge to rush out and buy a whole boat-load of clown outfits….

    And, send them out by UPS to the top execs in Big Pharma, the top psychiatric research chairs and doctors around the country….

    I’m beginning to get concerned now…..does this “urge” mean I have some kind of newly diagnosed mental disorder?

    Do you know anyone else who suffers from this symptom?

    Please help,



  6. I think I mentioned Dr James Le Fanu before? For many years, Le Fanu was a medical columnist at the Daily Telegraph, a London daily newspaper.

    Le Fanu was an leading opinion former – a mainstream propagandist who “pathologized” new psychiatric diagnoses, thrusting their acceptance on the non-medical masses.

    One day Le Fanu was pushing the diagnosis of Paruresis.

    He claimed that men who have difficulty urinating in public – e.g. while standing next to someone at a public urinal – have a serious brain disorder called… Paruresis…

    Le Fanu went on to report that Paruresis, then newly listed in the DSM, responds very well to Ambien®…..

    Fancy That!


  7. You know, I remember reading about this in an article posted on here about the new DSm and it’s new “diagnoses”. To think that they could actually justify shopping as a disease makes me laugh. I can only imagine what the commercials for the drug would be like..LMAO!!


  8. They’ve already had a clinical trial on compulsive shopping right here in the Bay area, run by Stanford. The drug that was investigated was Celexa and sure enough, it curbed those shopping impulses but what else happened to the poor souls who got slapped with an a/d was never adequately described.


  9. oh…it’s not that I don’t have compassion for those who suffer from poor impulse control…not at all…I have issues of this nature though not with shopping and not to any huge degree…but I choose to learn to be conscious and take responsibility…

    blame has nothing to do with it…and I’m not blaming anyone with psychological issues…not sure where you got that.

    of course if people choose to remain blind…that is their choice to some extent…but everyone’s journey is unique and we all have strengths and weaknesses….and that includes the most enlightened among us.

    it’s about taking responsibility for ourselves…that’s it.


  10. When we are completely aligned with the insanity of our egoic mind how can we be responsible? I know when I am completely gone my actions are only coming from a very unconscious place. I don’t think the problem is idnetifying compulsive shopping as some kind of dysfunctional brain structure.

    It is in the labeling and treatment…..and mostly the treatment. I am certain they will try to push some kind of a drug for this. However, like many other things OCD is being shown to respond best to things like Dialectical behavior therapy (which is really an expansion on the Tao, Zen and other ‘spiritual’ teachings about awareness, acceptance, etc.)

    I don’t look at this as bullspit at all. These people are suffering in their constant search for fufillment, but never getting it no matter how much they shop. I agree with you that a lot of this is the system trying to make more money. However, when we start talking about people taking responsiblity for “poor impulse control” we start blaming them for their own dysfunction.


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