Sunday, February 22, 2009

Taken Aback with Shopaholics

A couple of weeks ago, some family friends went to the movies and saw Taken, starring a post Obi-Wan Liam Neeson. As they are parents of a thirteen year old daughter, they recommended the movie to us and told us it was a flick to definitely share with our own thirteen year old daughter – teach her about the evil of men preying on the naivety of young women and making a fortune selling them into the sex industry. You know, how young girls are to never talk to strangers or share taxi cabs. Well, we thought it was a bit heavy for our daughter at this time, but my wife and I went to it. It’s a good, action-packed movie. I liked it. I do worry that it will become too popular and too well viewed – it’s really going to hamper my pickup lines at airport taxi stands.

But, I digress. You see, as we went to Taken, my daughter and her friends took in Confessions of a Shopaholic, and that’s where this guy has a problem. No, not with the movie – I’m sure it’s a fun way to spend two hours without providing any social benefit at all. My beef is with “shopaholism” and calls for it to be formalized as a disease or disorder. Please.

Okay, fairness in full disclosure – I’m not a doctor. However, I do feel qualified to offer a medical opinion based on these three facts: 1) my sister is an M.D. and my father is a Ph.D., 2) my handwriting is absolutely atrocious, and 3) thanks to my DVR and numerous USA network marathons, I’ve viewed virtually every House episode. C’mon, you and I both know that makes me qualified to be a department head at any HMO in the United States. As such, my medical qualifications are airtight.

If only the case for compulsive shopping as a disease could be.

Currently, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known by my fellow medical practitioners and researchers as simply the DSM, or the “bible of psychological disorders,” does not recognize compulsive shopping as a disease. Ah, but there’s a subset of maverick physicians and therapists who are campaigning for inclusion. The leaders of this merry band are the doctors of the German psychiatric community, who argue compulsive shopping is a subset of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

The first argument against Compulsive Shopping being a disease or disorder is its peculiar adherence to geography. It’s certainly not uncommon for diseases to be more prevalent in one geographic region over another – valley fever (Coccidioidomycosis), for example, is endemic to the American southwest and northwestern Mexico. But, for this professional medicine man, I find it odd that Compulsive Shopping seems so centered on the United States and Western Europe. What, no sub-Saharan Africa? It’s odd that Compulsive Shopping is absent from countries with a GDP smaller than the amount of money Bill Clinton spends annually on 1-900 calls.

Secondly, we’ll assume Compulsive Shopping isn’t caused by some strange toxin that has been recently introduced to our environment, although that would make a pretty cool storyline for a movie, and would maybe explain those plastic clogs, Crocs. With no toxin responsible for the sudden onset of Compulsive Shopping, we’re free to assume the “disease” we have today was around in – oh, I don’t know – let’s say 1840. So, how would Compulsive Shopping present at the little house on the prairie? I can’t see it happening. What, an undeniable urge to barter baby pigs for buffalo hide? A walk in barn closet housing a collection of designer dungarees – one for every day of the month? Endless labor under the hot sun so as to further the collection of Manolo boots? Nope, not buying it.

Not buying it. That’s funny, don’t you think?

No, my extensive medical research has proved that Compulsive Shopping is not a disease. Now, it could very well be a symptom – perhaps one for depression or OCD or whatever – and maybe I’ll explore that when my beer expenses don’t take so much out of my research budget. Compulsive Shopping is, for the vast majority of “sufferers,” a behavioral problem brought on by the easy availability of credit. People want, people can, and therefore, people do. Then, they feel bad about it. They want to feel better, and nothing alleviates discomfort more than a good, liberal application of “it’s not my fault.”

So, if you spent all your money on useless crap, Compulsive Shopping is not the disease you suffer from. Rather, it’s most likely a symptom of advanced Acquired Intelligence Deficiency Syndrome, the most prevalent planetary disease with the acronym AIDS. The treatment is simple – stop buying shit. It goes back to the advice a friend’s father once gave him – if, when in an argument, you find your position is digging yourself a bigger and bigger hole, the first thing you need to do is PUT DOWN THE SHOVEL. Cut up your credit cards, pay with cash, avoid the mall, and get off ebay.

And the guilt over destroying your family’s credit and spending your kid’s college fund? Forget about it! As the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, your kid wasn’t likely going to college anyway.

At least that’s this guy’s opinion.

Tweet me @RayHartjen

No comments:

Post a Comment