Is there such a thing as compulsive shopping?

Most of us like to shop and who has not had the experience of buying something you really do not need or can not afford? We live in a consumer culture and we can not avoid going through a day without having literally hundreds of products and services pushed at us — through TV ads, billboards, walking down any city street, radio, and of course, the Internet. But does buying a few unnecessary items or spending more than we should mean that we have a psychological problem? Can shopping really be addictive – like drugs or alcohol?

According to April Lane Benson, Ph.D., a nationally known psychologist who specializes in the treatment of compulsive buying disorder, yes, compulsive shopping is a real and growing problem that in many cases requires treatment. Clients who consult with Dr. Benson are asked to evaluate their shopping habits to determine if they have a shopping compulsion: Compulsive Shopper Test.

For some, the Internet has only made their shopping problem worse. Online, it is impossible to escape the multitude of temptations and special offers that retailers bombard us with – via email, website advertising, newsletters . . . and now with the move to smartphones and the technologies that allow marketers to better target consumers using location and other personal information. Consider all of the new ways of pushing products that have been developed by retailers leveraging Internet technology – Coupon groups with tempting time limited offers, online reservation systems that allow you to accumulate points, online sweepstakes, pushing products via email based on your previous buying habits being used by mega retailers like Amazon. It’s endless and more and more applications will be introduced to ensure that retailers can maximize their ability to market to each of us 24/7.

Dr. Benson has appeared widely in the media, including What Would Jesus Buy?, a documentary about overconsumption in America during the holidays. She has appeared on CBS , CNN, ABC, BBC and more. If you suspect you or someone you know is over shopping and it may be out of control, take the shopaholic assessment test on Dr. Benson’s site:

If you want to reduce your exposure to Internet shopping and get in control of your family’s online spending habits, install a web filter now.

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