Would popping daily citaloprams, I wonder, have restrained Jackie Kennedy's celebrated spending sprees and prevented the purported ensuing marital discord? How about a fluvoxamine prescription? Or natrexone? And what about publisher William Randolph Hearst who, at the peak of his purchasing power in the 1920s, spent $15 million a year? Even after achieving near bankruptcy, Hearst continued feeding his mania for antiquities, tapestries, oriental rugs, paintings, and other collectibles. Would meddling with a remedy to restore what some consider a chemical imbalance in the brain have tempered the nearly (some would say definitively) self-destructive shopaholic behavior of this 20th century tycoon?

We'll never know. But some day, psychiatrists may know enough to begin prescribing drugs to treat so-called compulsive shopping disorder, a condition that affects millions of Americans. After all, the rich and famous aren't the only ones who spend, spend, and continue to spend, even as their compulsion leads...

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