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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1994 May;16(3):205-12.

Compulsive buying. Demography, phenomenology, and comorbidity in 46 subjects.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City.


Compulsive buying has been generally ignored in the psychiatric literature, although it is apparently frequent, underrecognized, and can lead to severe financial and legal consequences for its sufferers. The current investigation was designed to assess the overall life-style and problems of subjects identified as compulsive shoppers. Forty-six compulsive buyers were assessed for comorbid psychiatric disorders with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, the Structured Interview for DSM-III-R Personality Disorders, and a semistructured interview to assess buying behavior. The typical shopper was a 31-year-old female who had developed compulsive buying at age 18 years. Subjects spent their money on clothing, shoes, and records/compact discs. The average debt load accrued was $5,422 out of an average yearly income of $23,443. More than two-thirds met lifetime criteria for a major (Axis I) mental disorder, most commonly anxiety, substance abuse, and mood disorders. Nearly 60% were found to meet criteria for a DSM-III-R personality disorder, most commonly the obsessive-compulsive, borderline, and avoidant types. The authors conclude that compulsive buying is a definable clinical syndrome which can cause its sufferers significant distress and is associated with significant psychiatric comorbidity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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