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Christmas Excesses Leave Consumers Empty

Psychologist Patricia Dalton says rampant consumerism, once confined to the holidays, has become a year-round American affliction. She observes unhappy people trying to fill the emptiness of their lives by irresponsible spending and then consulting psychologists like her to figure out what has gone wrong in their lives.

"Those of us who lived through the '60s," she says, "seem to have forgotten the warning that everything you buy owns you." To pay for all their junk, people now work so hard that they're ruining their marriages, their families, and their health.

No wonder many of us feel "spiritually empty" as the year winds down.

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