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Psychiatry's latest disease mongering scheme: Compulsive shopping called a disease requiring "treatment"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: shoppers, disease mongering, psychiatric disorders


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(NewsTarget) If you've ever bought items that you really didn't need, or bought huge quantities of items based on large discounts or other factors, some may brand you a "shopaholic." Now, some psychiatrists are pushing to label excessive shopping a mental imbalance that needs to be treated with prescription drugs.

There may be more than 10 million people in the United States psychologists classify as "shopaholics," according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Psychiatry. These people shop compulsively, buy things they do not need and often cannot afford; the unnecessary purchases can result in the jeopardizing of their jobs, finances, families and mental health.

Many researchers argue that categorizing binge buying as a strictly mental problem takes the focus away from social factors, such as the impact of advertising, easy credit and commercialization.

A new study looking at compulsive shopping was conducted by Lorrin Koran, a psychiatrist at Stanford University. One of Koran's conclusions was that some people who end up in financial bankruptcy are binge buyers -- and that they suffer from a disease similar to alcoholism. That fact, according to Koran and his team, should mitigate these people's responsibilities for the debts they run up as a result of compulsive shopping.

The American Psychiatric Association is considering whether to list compulsive buying as a new kind of disorder -- a move that will be added to the debate about whether psychiatry is turning every aspect of human behavior into a disease.

"With this latest disease mongering scheme, drug companies and psychiatrists will try to convince anyone who has ever made an impulse purchase that they are suffering from a brain chemistry disorder requiring chemical treatment," explained Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate.

"Yet the real mental illness is in psychiatry itself, where greedy practitioners push utterly fictitious disease labels onto countless victims, then drug them with dangerous psychotropic drugs."

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