I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self brings together, for the first time, the most important thinking about this disorder. As more and more therapists encounter compulsive buying (whether as a presenting problem or revealed in the course of ongoing therapy), the need for an in-depth clinical understanding of the disorder has grown. Dr. Benson has responded admirably to that need with a practical, comprehensive, and wonderfully readable work.
While the book focuses a wide-angled lens on the many aspects of compulsive buying, it emphasizes understanding the disorder as a desperate search for self in people whose identity is not securely established. It defines the syndrome of compulsive consumption, examines the range and variations within it, discusses assessment and associated disorders, and delineates successful treatment modalities. Offering insights from a broad spectrum of therapies-psychopharmacology, psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral treatment, couples and group therapy, self-help, and financial counseling-this book is an indispensable toolbox for the increasing number of therapists who see patients with shopping, buying, or debting problems.
Here’s What Colleagues are Saying:
“Intellectually and clinically substantial, I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self is so timely it ought to be on bookshelves everywhere, from the consulting room to the training institute. Given the remarkable explosion of e-commerce, Benson’s focus on this subject seems almost prescient. It is impossible to imagine any therapist who doesn’t come across the problem of compulsive buying-and equally impossible to imagine most clinicians having any idea about how to handle it. Dr. Benson has courage to take on this much disparaged, yet central aspect of everyday life.”
Ron Taffel, Ph.D.
Director, Family and Couples Treatment Service,
Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy
“This is an important book that should be read by every clinician in practice. It is the first work ever to attempt-and largely succeed at-a serious, comprehensive examination of the nature of compulsive or addictive shopping, spending, and buying, problems now astonishingly widespread, usually denied, and nearly always concealed…. This work is a significant and valuable contribution to healing in the new century. Dr. Benson has begun a much needed dialogue with this substantive and impressive book.”
Author, How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously
“Shopping, often ridiculed, pathologized as an obsession and a perversion, and associated with frivolous women, has now been given serious, balanced, and substantive treatment. Using current contributions from infant research, motivational systems theory, self psychology, and relational psychoanalytic perspectives, Dr. Benson and her contributors add to the literature on shopping by indicating its self-sustaining and self-enhancing aspects. Richly illustrating all aspects of the shopping experience, this book addresses the multitude of psychological issues encompassed and negotiated in the process of shopping.”
Frank M. Lachmann, Ph.D. and Beatrice Beebe, Ph.D.
Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity, New York City
April Benson’s “I Shop Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self is a comprehensive and timely examination of an understudied but emerging public health problem. Our understanding of compulsive shopping, along with the other impulse control disorders, is rapidly changing and this book will surely facilitate a reexamination and reconceptualization. Including material on shopping as a drug; gender and self-image issues; psychiatric assessment; psychopharmacology; and psychodynamic, couples, and self-help approaches, this book is a tour de force.”
Eric Hollander, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, Director Compulsive, Impulsive and Anxiety Disorders Program, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York City.
“Dr. Benson and her colleagues have given us the first serious, scholarly, comprehensive (and fascinating) study of compulsive buying, its root causes, accompanying disorders, and treatment approaches.”
Joseph A. Califano, Jr.
Chairman and President, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University
I Shop, Therefore I Am is a Shopping Bag filled with a veritable cornucopia of well-made and carefully placed articles. Exploring the contents of this book-bag takes the reader into its deepest depths, as if into the “fabric” of the bag itself wherein lies the previously taboo realm of compulsive buying, spending, and shopping. For this reason alone the book is singularly important and a “must read” for interested persons from a wide range of perspectives.
I Shop, Therefore I Am is at once thought provoking and behavior challenging. Being part introduction, part overview, and part anthology, the book nonetheless unpacks its material with purposeful movement and in clear and readable language. Indeed, the more one reads, the more one wants to read! Each chapter contains compelling insights, all of which are brilliantly woven together into a single piece in editor April Lane Benson’s own concluding essay. Nuances of definition are revealed as writers from behavioral, biological, psychological, social and spiritual disciplines present their understandings of the scope and nature of problems related to money-use, as well as assessment and treatment options.
But Benson does not leave us consumed by the bag! Quite the contrary-in noting that the exchange of money for goods and services can be done as “conscious shopping” she suggests that shopping can be about the “process of search…about being” rather than having or buying. She thus leaves the reader searching for the next book-bag(s?) of goodies, in which one might hope to find essays attending to issues of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status and downward mobility in relation to “shopping gone bad”, as well as a fuller exposition of the reparative use of shopping, or “shopping gone good.”
When all is said and done, however, I guarantee – after reading this book you will never shop the same way again!
Martha Jacobi, M. Div., MSSW