IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The medicalization of compulsive buying


  • Lee, Shirley
  • Mysyk, Avis


Compulsive buying has recently been the subject of numerous articles from both consumer research and psychiatric perspectives. Identified by some researchers as a compulsion and by others as an addiction, common solutions to the problem have included drug treatments, participation in self-help groups and cognitive behaviour therapy. The purpose of this article is to examine critically the labelling of compulsive buying in terms of medicalization from the perspective of both medical and non-medical social control of "deviant" consumers. We suggest that the attempt to categorize compulsive buying as an illness represents the ongoing trend to medicalize behavioural problems which may be better understood within the wider context of related phenomena such as the fiscal crisis of the 1980s and 1990s and the consumption-driven economy of North America.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee, Shirley & Mysyk, Avis, 2004. "The medicalization of compulsive buying," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(9), pages 1709-1718, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:58:y:2004:i:9:p:1709-1718

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:58:y:2004:i:9:p:1709-1718. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.