November 19, 2009

A case of the “I wants”

I'm posting this with the Frugal Friday Posts at Life as Mom. Enjoy!

I think that the “I wants” should be added to the newest edition of the diagnostic manual. Can you tell that I walked in the mall this week???

Diagnosis—the “I wants”

Diagnostic Criteria—Two or more of the following symptoms lasting for at least 2 minutes

  • Overwhelming desire to purchase items

  • Darting eyes, looking from one item to the next in rapid fashion

  • Racing pulse related to “buyer’s high”

  • Labile mood—elevated while in store and in presence of advertisement, irritability or depressed mood following related to buyer’s remorse

  • Temper tantrums often found in younger patients characterized by high pitched whines, stomping of feet, sudden inability to move from same spot, reddened face, excessive holding of breath, and tearfulness

  • Invasive thoughts related to purchasing items, often fixating on the item, considering how patient would use the item, how patient “needs” the item

  • Item dysmorphia--in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her current possessions, exaggerating positive aspects of new and store bought items in their abilities to increase happiness and sense of wellbeing in the patient.

  • Financial distress related to purchasing items outside of financial means


The “I wants” Childhood type—symptoms are exaggerated and seem to be exacerbated when watching commercial television, when cartoon spokespeople and characters are used to sell items, and when child witnesses other children with symptoms of the “I wants”. Enablers include grandparents and Santa Claus.

The “I wants” Adult type—symptoms are exaggerated and seem to be exacerbated when menstruating, when under extreme stress, and when feeling blue. Enablers include shopping buddies and celebrity endorsers.

The “I wants” Seasonal Disorder—symptoms are exaggerated and seem to be worsened at or near the holiday shopping season.

The “I wants” Late Adulthood Onset—also known as “mid life crisis”, characterized by unusual dress for the patient, purchasing of expensive automobiles, flashy jewelry, and trips to exotic locations.

The “I wants” Pastry Shop type—symptoms are exaggerated and seem to be exacerbated when menstruating, when under extreme stress, when feeling blue. Very similar presentation as Adult type. Differential diagnosis based on items purchased. Pastry Shop type more present when near pastry shops, candy stores, ice cream shops, and near any of Grandma’s famous goodies. Enablers include grandmothers and Betty Crocker.

Recommended Treatment Regimen--

Early placebo and drug based studies are inconclusive, though some early data shows that indulging in one Hershey’s kiss, letting it melt in the mouth slowly, will reduce urge to buy for the Pastry Shop type.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy—Patients are encouraged to become more self aware of triggers, thoughts, and feelings related to spending.

Avoidance Therapy—Patients are encouraged to stay out of stores (especially malls), cancel catalog mailings, and turn the television channel during advertisements. Shopping networks are strongly discouraged for these patients.

Budgetary Therapy—Patients are encouraged to use the cash envelop system further developed and researched by therapist Dave Ramsey. Patients are also encouraged to use shopping lists to avoid impulse purchases.


Prognosis is especially good for those patients with a baseline personality of budgeting and discipline. Instruction and reinforcement are especially helpful when working with Childhood Type. With early intervention for all types, prognosis is excellent.

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