More Men Hooked on Shopping
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Of the estimated 30 million compulsive shoppers in the US, about 50% are men. Contrary to the stereotypes, the disorder is not gender specific, according to Terrence Shulman, founder and director of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding. “Men will overspend on vacations, new homes, cars—they bite off more than they can chew to keep up with the Joneses,” he explains. Shulman says that he sees clients who are typically in their 40’s and 50’s, married or engaged, and well-educated. Many tend to have developed shopping addictions after recovering from prior addictions to drugs or alcohol. “I had one client who was a recovering alcoholic from Florida who stopped working due to a disability, so he had a lot of time on his hands,” says Shulman. “The guy spent over $200,000 on computer equipment, then built a C.D. radio tower in his back yard. But he would never finish his projects. Then he started buying guns—that kind of shifting can happen a lot.” He says the rise of shopping addiction among men is partially due to technological advances, which allow easier access to shopping via the Internet, TV and smartphones. "We are becoming more of an impulsive, consumerist society and men are even more susceptible to this," he says, "I also think we're becoming an increasingly materialistic and empty culture.” Signs of compulsive shopping include: obsessing over items, keeping secrets about purchases, and isolation. Shulman adds: “Although shopping is legal, there is a lot of shame and embarrassment with it.”