Shopaholic Describes Childhood Trauma, Need to Buy

The Deep Secret at Source of Addiction

A few things became clear early on. Logan-Cannon was not happy in her job. During the course of her treatment she eventually decided to take early retirement and is now jobless. Her marriage was still struggling. And her shopping addiction?

It's not really about shopping at all.

"It's one of the few times you may feel," Sophy said, explaining to Logan-Cannon the allure of shopping. "And that's not a good thing."

For Logan-Cannon, Sophy says, shopping triggers a pleasurable chemical rush in the brain, just like any drug.

"When I am shopping, I am just, it's me and I am just... floating," Logan-Cannon said.

But like a binge eater, after Logan-Cannon indulges, spending more than she has, she feels remorse.

"I am feeling really good," she said. "Then I start driving home. ... And then you start to feel like, was that really necessary which you just did?"

To break the cycle, Sophy had to dig deeper, into Logan-Cannon's past.

Appreciating fine clothing runs in Logan-Cannon's family. She was a model for a time, as was her grandmother. Her father was an impeccably dressed ladies' man, she said.

"My dad would take his credit card out and he would sit with his newspapers and say go," said Logan-Cannon. "I mean, for about two hours, I would just be going for it. That's where it started, too." But Logan-Cannon confessed that her father was also an alcoholic. The family vulnerability to addiction may be genetic.

"My dad was a narcissistic, self-absorbed individual who always put himself first and if you fit in for that day, it was great," Logan-Cannon told Sophy. "I was a typical little girl who worshipped her dad, but I have made excuses for him my entire life."

And as Sophy digs, another, deeper secret emerges. Logan-Cannon grew up in Berkeley, Calif., in the 1960s. Schools were being integrated. She was sent to a predominantly white school. One day at a bus stop, a group of white boys pushed her in front of a speeding bus, she said.

"And the bus just screeches and I think I weigh like 90 pounds," Logan-Cannon said. "I got on the bus, I was sitting there and what he had done was go and put on brass knuckles and he just beat my face to a pulp. I went blind, I couldn't really see. "Well that incident, I removed it. ... I just ... like it never happened. And it took me years to remember it."

Logan-Cannon and her family never spoke of the beating. Sophy said her tendency to disconnect from emotion is a big part of the reason she shops.

"After years of stopping the bleeding with the Band-Aid of shopping, you create a good feeling in your brain because you feel good and it releases chemicals and that becomes an ingrained mind frame," said Sophy. "I am bleeding, I buy, I stop bleeding, I feel good, I now can go on until I bleed again then I buy and then I feel good. It's a cycle that you have created. ... It's your Band-Aid, and you are going to have to find other more appropriate and less expensive Band-Aids, like talking about how you feel and dealing with yourself on a day-to-day basis."

Some of the most difficult pressure, it turns out, comes from Logan-Cannon's personal shoppers, and the friends who shop with her. She compares them to drinking buddies.

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