A therapist I know treats people who are addicted to shopping. The advice he gives them is to put their credit cards into a big bucket and freeze them. Then the chunk of ice that contains the cards is stored in the freezer. Whenever patients are tempted to make a spontaneous purchase, they are forced to invest a lot of time and effort into unfreezing the cards. While they do that, the urgent desire to make a purchase might subside.

This technique worked very well until a patient of his told him the following story. She experienced a profound desire to shop, took the chunk of ice with the cards from the freezer, ran into the garage, grabbed a wrench, ran back into the house, and demolished the piece of ice. Just smashed it to smithereens.

The patient was a small, skinny woman, yet her desire to shop was so powerful that she destroyed a huge piece of ice within a minute.

Psychoanalysis, in the meanwhile, can help one address the root causes of shopaholism (alcoholism, workaholism, etc.) instead of dealing only with the symptoms.

One thought on “Shopaholics

  1. Psychoanalysis can certainly do that, in theory. But you’ve got to be sharp, really sharp, to be able to pick yourself out for doing that which, by going unnoticed, defines the limits of your character. I actually don’t think any psychoanalyst,in a thousand years, would have enabled me to understand the core aspect of my character that was giving me trouble — which was that I habitually projected the better parts of myself into esteemed others. Once I realized that this is what I was doing, I was cured. However, most people I spoke to, which was anyone who was willing to guess, made assumptions based on personal weakness or malignancy — in any case, ideas entirely unrelated to anything I was doing.


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