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Andrew Mellen

Friday, September 10, 2010

Compulsive shopping is not OCD ...

"Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety." Source, NIMH.com

Nowhere in the above description do they mention compulsive shopping.

As I wrote previously, whether online or in person, shopping is a multi-step process. You can't shop without doing several things, and at any point in that process, you could choose to do something else. Whether you successfully change how you're FEELING or not, you can manually manipulate your behavior enough to actually DO something else.

"Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is characterized by excessive shopping cognitions and buying behavior that leads to distress or impairment. Found worldwide, the disorder has a lifetime prevalence of 5.8% in the U.S. general population." Source, NIH.gov

So are you part of the 5.8%? Only you and a qualified medical professional (or three) can make that determination.

Or are you a bit willful and escapist? Do you seek the rush of shopping and distance yourself from the consequences? Are you or could you be aware of that while you're actually engaged in the act of shopping? Could you, would you, have you interrupted the shopping 'experience' successfully in the past?

Or once it's begun, are you stuck in motion and physically unable to break free from completing the transaction?

I can't answer these questions for you. I can only pose the questions and sit beside you, encouraging diligence and rigorous honesty in assessing your situation.

If you are engaged in self-destructive behavior and aware of the consequences, are you WILLING to do something different, not just when feeling remorse but before the behavior happens again?

That to me is a key to making new choices.

Foxhole prayers and seeking temporary relief from an activity you regret isn't the same as marshaling support, either within yourself and/or from someone you trust, to make a different choice BEFORE the behavior is repeated.

What will it take to do something different and eliminate at least one source of regret?