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Oniomania, the disorder of compulsive buyers

Oniomania, the disorder of compulsive buyers

November 27, 2021

We can not deny that consumerism in Christmas times increases considerably . In fact, In the market there is a huge variety of products offered that are exposed to the public eye, being the object of desire of thousands and thousands of consumers who pass in front of carefully mounted shop windows and overflowing with articles.

However, although the average consumer has constant visual contact with these consumer products, they do not have the financial comforts necessary to acquire them. This can generate anxiety and frustration, in addition to feeding the need to have fashionable objects and products to differentiate themselves from other people.


Oniomania: buy, one of the great modern pleasures

To be carried away by the action of buying disproportionately, beyond our own material possibilities, is unsustainable and for many families it can lead to a serious malaise generalized by the consequences that it brings.

This abnormal acquisition of items is called compulsive buying Y is defined as a persistent, irresistible, assaulting purchase motivation that happens in a repetitive way, its action is experienced as a pleasant sensation and reducing discomfort, but in the long run it can be a behavioral pattern that generates serious problems.

Currently, compulsive buying affects between 1.1% - 5.9% of the general population.


Women are more compulsive in their purchases

A recent study published in Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings (2015) concludes that among the subjects evaluated, Women show a more compulsive attitude when making unnecessary purchases , and describe feeling more pleasant and intense emotions compared to men. In another case, Kraepelin affirmed the same conclusion, between 80% and 92% of the cases studied occur in women who are around 30 years of age.

It is concluded that women tend to make compulsive purchases in relation to clothing, shoes and accessories and the few men who suffer from this addiction are more likely to spend money on electronic devices and articles arising from new technologies in general.

The psychological profile of a compulsive buyer

We are in front of psychological disorder, not a vice.


In the current DSM-IV (clinical diagnosis manual) This behavior is not described as a recognized disorder , so, who suffers it is relegated to the category of "Control disorder of unspecified impulses"

Among people suffering from onychomania, a high degree of comorbidity is reported, which is why it is often Compulsive buyers meet criteria for other disorders , specifically those related to mood, anxiety, substance abuse and there are even studies that indicate a remarkable link with eating disorders.

Already classic studies on this subject reveal a hereditary tendency; McElroy et al. Found that of 18 compulsive purchasers, 17 had a relative with mood disorders, 11 with substance abuse, 3 with anxiety disorders and 3 more with compulsive purchases.

The origins (causes) of oniomania

There are two possible origins that lead to developing a compulsive behavior. On the one hand, one of the causes refers to the relationship between performing a repetitive behavior that generates satisfaction. That is, a person begins to perform the behavior of buying repeatedly because it brings a strong dose of satisfaction and pleasure , until finally it ends up becoming a habit that ends in compulsion.

Contrarily, it is possible that it arises because the person does not feel capable of facing an aspect of his reality, or he does not know how to deal with the personal problems that overwhelm him, so he seeks to solve his shortcomings through excessive purchases. In this case, the compulsive behavior would be due to a kind of Emotional escape route .

The 4 phases of compulsive buying

We observe the phases that govern all compulsive purchases:

1. Anticipation

There are thoughts, impulses and worries in relation to a specific product or the habit of buying

2. Preparation

Decisions begin to be made about where the product will be purchased, how the payment will be made (bank cards are normally used), how to get to the store or the way in which the product will be acquired (online, physical store ...). In certain cases, extra information about the desired article is inquired.

3. Buy

They live it as a frankly exciting and pleasurable experience. For people with onychomania at the time of making the purchase is an expected and that makes them feel good.

4. Expenditure and disappointment

Once the purchase is made and the money is spent, there is a feeling of disillusionment with oneself along with feelings of guilt, anger, resentment and the firm intention not to repeat the behavior.

Why is it bought compulsively?

If we wanted to cover all the possibilities of response that this question offers, I am sure that we would not have enough space, so we are going to focus only on the most common causes and those that most influence this compulsive behavior.

  • There is a real feeling of loneliness or personal emptiness . The person performing the behavior is convinced that it can fill that internal gap, however, what happens after the compulsive purchase is that the gap becomes increasingly larger, entering a loop from which it is difficult to exit.
  • The sensation experienced when a new product is acquired . The positive emotions that take place during the purchase can encourage behavior to repeat itself.
  • In time of sales, the fear of losing a good offer It directly influences the behavior, encouraging the buyer to buy as soon as possible.
  • The disorder itself It leads to making these purchases. Control is lost and only seeks to satisfy what is experienced as a vital need.

And after the purchase ... what?

The compulsive buyer experiences, once the purchase action is carried out, strong feelings of guilt and anxiety that can even lead to depressive symptoms in response to behavior and excessive expenses.

However, these effects can not be attributed solely to making irrational purchases, since most people who show this behavior also have strong compulsive features, which manifest themselves in the form of some behavioral, cognitive and / or physiological symptoms. In order to overcome these feelings of anguish and depressed mood the person can resort to making new purchases, so the circle narrows more and more.

It is this dynamic of looping activities that makes compulsive buying something that is very difficult to disengage. Among other things, because recognizing that one is addicted to something is a blow to our beliefs and ideas that can be explained by the theory of cognitive dissonance: the more we buy, the more we are forced to justify that habit by making more purchases. In this way, compulsive buyers have an increasingly narrow margin of maneuver, and the situation worsens because the lack of money is increasingly evident, which transforms oniomania into a problem in many areas of life.

Treatments for oniomania

exist different ways of dealing with these cases . Sometimes, several types of treatment can be used simultaneously or in chains.

1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Treatment with cognitive-behavioral therapy begins by expressing the need to introduce a change in the life of those who suffer from the obsession with shopping. It is very important discover how the person himself conceives himself and in what way he tries to satisfy his needs , as well as analyze what kind of ideas govern their personality to start modifying them.

Great results have been observed through group therapies, where one's own experience is shared with subjects who present the same problem.

2. Pharmacological treatment

Currently, the drug treatment (SSRI) used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder has proved to be the most effective, since the premeditation associated with the act of buying could respond to an obsession and his physical behavior resembles that of a compulsive ritual . The only difference between a compulsive buyer and someone suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is that in the latter the behavior is totally involuntary from the start.

As mentioned, both treatments can be performed at the same time offering better results.

5 final tips to be forewarned about this obsession

These tips are applicable at any time of the year, but we can come very well in Christmas periods and in times of sales where it is easier for us to feel a greater need to purchase products and articles.

  • Avoid last minute purchases
  • Go shopping in public transport
  • Write down what you will need in a list
  • Avoid buying in moments of euphoria or discouragement
  • Create a weekly budget

Compulsive shopping (November 2021).


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