Americans once got so wound up about the Christmas sales at Wal-Mart, security guard Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death by 2000 crazy-eyed bargain hunters.

"They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me," said Damour's workmate. "They took me down, too. I literally had to fight people off my back."

Well, a study has now proven what we already knew from experience: large crowded sales and other ladies' pointy elbows as they eagle-eye the bargains and block your view of all the nice things and bloody prams in your way and no more Nurofen in your handbag but head's thumping and EVERY. SINGLE. SIZE. EXCEPT. YOURS can actually make you go hands-in-the-air cuckoo.

In order to discover this, researchers probed the brains of people who'd recently shopped in a major sale. They found 20 per cent experienced high levels of anxiety; 23 per cent experienced de-realisation (a shift in their perception of reality); and almost half felt a lack of empathy for other shoppers/would possibly participate in some covert eye gouging if it meant getting what they wanted.


A quarter also said they fretted they'd miss out on the items they coveted, and nearly half said they felt "defeated". Participants were asked things like "While I was shopping, things didn't seem real to me," and "I felt like I was walking in a dream".

Many of them said: Yes, that is me! Which is a bit terrifying, but New Zealand sales aren't good enough to warrant that kind of mania anyway. And there's no Wal-Mart here, where life is cheaper than the goods.

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