Aches and pains aches and pains ...

They buy anything and everything, slam their money without controlling themselves and are unable to meet their financial commitments. Reportage in a speech group for compulsive spenders ... who heal themselves.

Jean-Baptiste Drouet

Fifth arrondissement of Paris, a room installed in the basement. Arranged in a circle, about ten chairs are occupied. Laurence raises her hand and speaks. The emotion is palpable: "I remember my first session: where I said everything, or I was committing suicide ..." This Friday evening, she attends the weekly meeting of Debtors anonymous (DA), the association that welcomes and cares people suffering from serious dysfunctions in their relationship with money.

At 35, Laurence talks about her "dark years with money". It has the impressive serenity of people who come from far away: "When I was five years old, my mother screamed at me," How much do you love me? "This beautiful, sophisticated, castrating and neurotic woman lived in permanent seduction: spendthrift compulsively, she forced me to follow her in her delirious shopping sessions, and she took the opportunity to visit her lovers.To buy my silence, she gave me liquid secretly, as a drug addict, treating my dad failed. "

Money addict

High in what she calls" the addiction of money ", Laurence will in turn become a compulsive buyer ... from 8 years:" I ran the funfairs to snap the l dirty money from my mother. " In a situation of over-indebtedness at age 25, she begins a psychoanalysis, which will end in failure. At 30, in debt, anorexic-bulimic, insomniac, she discovers the existence of anonymous debtors. At a meeting, she burst into tears and delivered to an upset audience the depths of a ransacked intimacy: "I was able to talk about the incest my mother imposed on me until she was 10 years old. and the absence of a father whom I loved so much, and finally I understood: hating myself body and soul, I made myself pay, through my relation to money, this hatred of me. Yet I like the touch of the notes, reassuring and sweet like the hand of my father that I so rarely tightened. "

To break this spiral of failure, Laurence scrupulously respected, for seven years, the method of the association, modeled on that of Alcoholics Anonymous: attendance at meetings, listening to others, keeping a record of expenses, payment of all debts and emergency appeal to a phone sponsorship in case of a hard blow. So many "tools" that have allowed his great introspective work and his accountability to his financial commitments.

The need for benchmarks

"Individuals suffering from neurotic disorders with money do not all have a disastrous past, nuance Samuel Lepastier, psychoanalyst.They tend to position themselves as victims of others, but in reality they are the ones who create problems for others. I see a certain immaturity and a great difficulty in getting out of childhood. This is why the confrontation with rules, with laws, can be very "maturing" for subjects in strong demand of landmarks. "" Vulnerable beings, remarks for its part the doctor William Lowenstein, specialist of the addictions, which have often gone through difficult times in their lives - ruptures, abandonments - exacerbating narcissistic and affective loopholes. "According to him, none of us are immune:" From the moment we feel emotions, we are all potential dependents. "

Marie, 59, had a lot of money, daughter of a wealthy industrialist, she inherits a considerable amount of money, but at 20, a passion in love with her parents is an abortion. " With my strict Catholic upbringing, I was guilty of a crime. All my life I felt debtor to myself. In my eyes, I had only one right: pay. In my relationship, at work, with my friends and family, I had to pay a high price for this fault. "At age 50, she finds herself in debt of several hundred thousand euros, with two dependent children. 'a session with anonymous Debtors, it is advisable to write on a notebook his daily expenses. This inventory was a revelation, recalls Marie. I gave lots of presents to others and I did not spend a penny for myself. I suffered from financial anorexia. "An ailment that, a priori, concerns more men.

" We talk a lot about compulsive buying women, observes Marie-Claude François-Laugier, psychoanalyst, but few men, who can also have serious problems with money, often because of the need to revalue their father's image. Men speak less than women, but their need for help is even greater ... "That night, at DA, they were ten: seven women and three men ...

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