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Oniomania: A Buying Obsession

Oniomania in simple term is defined as the obsession of a person with very costly things. It is also called as CBD (Compulsive Buying Disorder).

When life hasn’t got a swing anymore, people may give in to obsessive oniomanic compulsions, in as much as they are going out of their way to construct a flamboyant life style and change their identity from “don’t- need” to “must-have” consumers, so as to satisfy their gripping buying desire. Erike Pevernagie

Man is a creature of instincts, desires, feelings, volitions and all that. These instincts, desires, feelings and volitions of man increased with an influx of digital and technological revolution. Technological revolution, as is evident, has amplified desires and abilities of us humans over the last couple of years. Due to the scientific advancement, modern man has become a kind of post-human. He accomplishes everything in a very easy way. Most of the works are done by him while sitting on a comfortable arm chair. This is because of technology. But this scientific advancement and technological novelty have some flipsides attached to it as well.

Alongside other facilities, modern man has also online buying options available to him. He buys things online from online shopping portals like Flipkat and Amazon etc. He orders an item online and next day it reaches him in the wee hours of the morning. These online shopping portals are very alluring and enticing. No doubt they save our time, but due to this online shopping, modern man has degenerated into an oniomanic and shopaholic being. Oniomania and shopaholism are two newly discovered psychological obsessions of a modern man. Seeing an item online enchants and entices him. The brilliant color and gaudy style motivates him to buy things even at very dear rates online.

Oniomania in simple term is defined as the obsession of a person with very costly things. It is also called as CBD (Compulsive Buying Disorder). This term was coined by the French psychiatrist Valentin Magnan. The term gained currency when Max Nordau, the German physician, used it in his book Degeneration (1892). Nordau defines Oniomania as a “buying craze” a “stigma of degeneration”. Thorstein Veblen (sociologist and economist) has used a different bionomial term for this buying craze or oniomania. He calls it a conspicuous consumption. It is defined as the spending of money on costly and luxury goods and services in order to make the display of one’s economic power and clout.

Oniomania is a fact these days. Modern man has certainly become an oniomanic being. He goes for shopping frequently. Brands and tags have obsessed his mind. He runs after the brand names like Adidas, Nike, Levis and many others. Wearing these brands gives him psychological comfort and social identity.  Local, indigenous and unbranded items no longer attract him. Modern man thinks that unbranded and local items are bland and lack identity, social respect and elitist magnetism. This line of thinking has led to extravagance and desire for extravaganza. Extravagance and desire for extravaganza can surely impoverish us. It can have negative economic implications for us. We should use our senses and discretion while shopping. Discretion is the best part of the valor. We should not be driven by our elite instincts and romantic tendencies.

Prior to digital revolution and online shopping options, shopping was not so frequent and maniac. Shopping was done on yearly or half yearly basis. But these days, shopping has become an obsession. Modern man goes for shopping on daily basis. I do not try to discourage people from shopping; I only suggest that we should not be much obsessed with it. We should not consider costly goods and apparels as desiderata. We can survive without donning ultra-modern suits, saris and shoes. We should avoid being lavish, spendthrift and profligate. We should follow frugality and thrifty life style. Lavish life style and extravagant attitude are the signs and symptoms of oniomania and shopaholism. Both Oniomania and shopaholism can lead to psychological disorders. It can make us social misfits. We should try to be less lavish and simpler. Thereby hangs a tale!

Postscript: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci

Bilal Ahmad Dar is a Research Scholar at the Department of English, AMU. He has qualified JKSET and UGC NET in English Literature. He can be mailed at:

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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