03/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Shopaholism: America's Newest Addiction?

Ill-advised shopping has certainly turned up recently in the news, and yet the issue also forms the core of a much more contentious and continuing debate. As spenders spend while the economy plummets, the psychiatric world is trying to decide whether compulsive buying should actually be considered a disease.

At least for now, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -- which is known as the D.S.M. and is something like the bible of psychological maladies -- does not list the condition as a technical disease. While shopaholism, as the laymen say, has been recognized by the German psychiatric community as a subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder, it still awaits its day in the United States.

According to April L. Benson, author of "I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self," that day is almost certain to arrive.

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