Oniomaniac | Compulsive Need to Buy Things

Oniomaniacs can’t stop shopping

What happens when shopping is a compulsion instead of a hobby? Image from www.designmom.com.

What happens when shopping is a compulsion instead of a hobby? Image from www.designmom.com.

Many people who love spending time at the mall and filling their closets with the latest fashions call themselves “shopaholics.” Usually it’s followed by a laugh or a joke, but this habit can sometimes take the form of a destructive disorder called oniomania, which is the clinical term for the compulsive desire to buy things.

You might know an oniomaniac — someone who is already in debt, already in some kind of trouble but keeps buying more and more stuff. Sometimes oniomania, from the outside, looks like another disorder: hoarding. People who compulsively buy things end up filling their houses to the brim with stuff to the point you can barely get around the house.

Does America create oniomaniacs

It’s not surprising that oniomania exists, especially in a country that has entire historical period called “the rise of consumerism.” The introduction of credit, including loan lenders, in the U.S. changed consumer behavior radically. I highly doubt oniomaniacs would exist if people had to stop buying things as soon as they ran out of money.

Rather, perhaps oniomania would still exist, but people would not be able to act on their compulsions so much. As you can probably tell, I think oniomania is a disturbing and dangerous disease, but why?

Bad for people, bad for the planet

As anyone who has ever watched the A&E series “Hoarders” knows, oniomania and the conditions it spawns can be very dangerous to people’s health and relationships. For anyone who is not extremely wealthy, oniomania can cause serious debt and an overabundance of stuff to the point that it is dangerous. Debt and money issues are at the root of many relationship problems, and oniomania sometimes is at the root of debt and money issues.

Furthermore, as U.S. consumers buy more and more stuff, companies make more and more stuff. Most of that stuff ends up in a landfill, and someday we’re going to run out of space for garbage. If you think you might be an oniomaniac, seek help for the sake of yourself, your finances, your loved ones and the planet.

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