Sat, Aug 04, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Couple divorce over wife’s shopping addiction

RETAIL THERAPY:Psychiatric professionals suggest that the woman whose obsessive shopping sprees resulted in divorce should undergo long-term psychiatric therapy

By Lin Liang-che, Tsai Shu-yuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with Staff writer

A husband’s appeal for divorce over his wife’s seemingly random but pervasive purchasing habits was granted by the Taichung branch of the High Court earlier last month.The court added that the marriage was defunct after a separation of 10 years.

The husband, surnamed Liu (劉), and his wife, surnamed Lin (林), were married 26 years ago, and since the wedding Lin had not taken a job, leaving Liu to support the family.

A decade ago, Lin began to develop odd purchasing habits, frequently buying large quantities of soap and toothpaste, throwing them on the floor and then buying the same products again, the court heard.

Unable to stand her seemingly random habits, Liu lived separately from Lin since 2002.

However, dissatisfied with Liu’s decision to live separately, Lin frequently harassed him, either by going to his residence and making a scene or calling him repeatedly, the court heard.

Growing increasingly exasperated by her behavior, Liu filed for divorce with the court, and after reviewing the case, the Taichung District Court approved his request.

Lin appealed the ruling, claiming that although she did not have any kind of psychiatric disorder, she had been seeing a doctor and was cured of her habits, adding that she did not purchase the large quantities of household goods for no reason.

When the High Court reviewed the case, it sent for the couple’s son to make a witness statement.

According to the son, Lin often bought items that were never used, citing for example that she had accumulated over 20 boxes of clothing, wigs and other miscellaneous items in the past decade.

“I’m of the opinion that my parents should be divorced and I am willing to provide for the basic expenses of my mother,” the son was quoted as saying.

On July 17, the High Court ruled that as Liu and his wife had been living separately for 10 years, the marriage was defunct and that both sides had contributed to the break-up of the marriage.

The ruling said Liu had not actively encouraged his wife to pursue medical or psychiatric treatment after discovering her symptoms and that Lin herself had contributed to the break-up of the marriage by verbally abusing and harassing her husband.

The High Court ruling sustained that of the district court, approving Liu’s appeal for divorce.

Commenting on the case, Hsu Ching-chi (許景琦), the superintendent of Wizcare Hospital, a facility specializing in the treatment of psychiatric disorders and mental illnesses, said Lin’s odd shopping habits indicated a personality disorder that might have started before she was 18 years old.

The disorder could stem from financial hardship during her youth, which caused her to feel insecure when she was not able to buy things, Hsu said.

This type of personality disorder must have existed before her marriage to Liu, and as Lin became increasingly impulsive, she would not have been able to keep her disorder in check, Hsu said, adding that Liu only found out about her habits during their marriage because she might have been able to restrain her actions before the couple got married or because she felt more at ease spending money that she had not herself earned.

It is impossible for the symptoms to only have developed during the marriage, Hsu said, adding that the treatment of the disorder would involve both medication and long-term, in-depth psychiatric therapy.

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