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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 52 (2010) 1, 29 - 39

Review article

Compulsive buying or oniomania: An overview

J.A.J. Boermans, J.I.M. Egger

Compulsive buyers feel a continual urge to buy things, irrespective of their financial means. Interest in compulsive buying has increased in the last 30 to 40 years. Since excessive buying is a regularly occurring feature of various illnesses encountered in clinical practice, one wonders whether it should be regarded as a sign of the times, as a symptom of a psychiatric illness or as a distinct psychiatric syndrome.
aim To gain insight into the concept of compulsive buying.
method We searched the literature via Medline, PubMed and PsycInfo for the period from 1966 to August 2008.
results Compulsive buying is a relatively unknown and poorly defined phenomenon, despite its high incidence and high comorbidity. It is characterised by chronic, repetetive behaviour; it occurs mainly among women and should be classified as an impulsive-control disorder nos. Current aetiological models lack explanatory power and, so far, the most successful treatment results seem to have been achieved with behavioural therapy.
conclusion Compulsive buying should be considered from a neuroscientific perspective. Future research needs to have a neuropsychiatric focus and a contextual psychological and behavioural analytical approach in which inhibition, self-control and rule-governed behaviour play a central role.


keywords compulsive buying, oniomania, self-control