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On the last track, we discussed three factors that exacerbate a compulsive spender’s habits. These factors included: denial; social pressures; and contradicting personalities.
On this track, we will examine the various motivations that shop-aholics have for compulsive spending. These motivations include: substituting for love and affection; gender-related motivations; and thrill seeking.
#1 - Substituting for Love and Affection
Sam stated, “I just want to show you I love you. Is that so bad? Everything I bought for you was because I thought you might like it. Apparently, I’m just not appreciated around here.” I asked Sam how his parents showed him affection. He stated, “Whenever my dad came home from a business trip, he would bring us back gifts. It was nice because when he left again, and sometimes for weeks, those gifts would remind us of him.” I then stated to Sam, “I think that your need to express your love comes from the fact that your father was often absent and unable to express his love for you physically. Instead, he left you with things, items that you soon interpreted as a substitute for love.”
Think of your Sam. How would you explain to him or her the concept of substituting love for affection?
#2 - Gender-Related Motivations
On the other hand, men use purchases as a testament to their masculine prowess. Greg, age 32, spent most of his life savings on big cars and electronics. He stated, “Whoever has the biggest, fastest toy is automatically the bad ass in the room. Little car means little dick. Big car means, well, you know. Ultimately, though, it’s just a way to pick up chicks, but the more chicks you bang, the more of a man you are.” Obviously, these are generalizations. Not every female client buys things to make her look more beautiful. Likewise, not all male clients make large purchases to appear more masculine.
Think of your compulsive spending client. Does he or she fit into these generalizations?
Technique: Compulsive Spending Phases
Think of your compulsive spending client. Would he or she benefit from this exercise? Would playing this track to your client be beneficial?
#3 - Thrill Seeking
Thrill seekers like Daren are difficult because they do not see the resulting debt as an incentive to quit. The debt, in fact, is another thrill that they can experience. I have found that the only way to treat a compulsive gambler is if he or she willingly asks for help and is remorseful for his or her mistakes. Think of your Daren. Is he or she a thrill seeker?
On this track, we discussed the various motivations that shop-aholics have for compulsive spending. These motivations include: substituting for love and affection; gender-related motivations; and thrill seeking.
On the next track, we will examine techniques to incorporate a shop-aholic partner into their therapy. These techniques include: destroying inhibitive myths; hoarding questionnaire; supportive detachment; and increasing affection.
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