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Kleptomania: How Relevant is it?

Kleptomania is an impulse control disorder which is characterised by the profound difficulty in emotional and behavioural self-control. Kleptomania can also be described as a recurrent inability to control our mental urges to steal items. These items may or may not be most significant or much of cost with very little value. This is a rare but severe mental health disorder which causes many emotional concerns. The individual mostly develops Kleptomania and is entirely psychological in nature, but different from conduct disorder.

Symptoms of Kleptomania:

  • Powerful urge persisting in stealing items which is much less significant in value

  • The feeling of the sudden development of tension, anxiety and mental arousal which absolutely lead an individual to attempt theft

  • Continuous feeling of negativity and guilt after the theft attempt

  • Continuous repetition of Kleptomania behaviours

Causes of Kleptomania:

  • The cause of Kleptomania is found to be unknown and more research studies are under process

  • Kleptomania is also found to occur due to the changes in the brain functioning like some concern with the neurotransmitters like Dopamine, Serotonin and Brain’s opioid system

EXAMPLE 1: A case study of a person with Kleptomania

The case was the student pursuing 7th grade in Government High school. She was from a poor background where her mother was a daily wage worker, and her father was passed away during her childhood days. She also had a younger sister. Her mother was married to the girl’s stepfather in her second marriage. However, the girl’s stepfather was not in touch with the girl. At her school, she had a habit of stealing her own classmates’ pencil, pen, pen covers etc. One day she was caught by her classmate and taken to the headmaster of the school. The headmaster warned the child and left her with a brief counselling session to not repeat the same behaviour. But also she has not changed her habit and used to repeat the same kind of behaviour, and nobody found her behaviour. Then on one day, she repeated stealing behaviour and taken to the headmaster. This time the headmaster punished the child by complaining to her parent. Her mother beat her badly and asked not to repeat the behaviour, but the child didn’t change her behaviour. She also felt it was terrible. At the next attempt, she was caught. Her mother found many sealed items in her bag. The headmaster asked her mother to take her to the clinical psychologist, and she was taken to the clinic. During the interaction session with a psychologist, they realised she was not doing it willingly or for some other benefits. She underwent theft for small attractive things, and she developed anxiety during the time of the theft. She felt no control over her behaviour to avoid the act of theft. She was diagnosed with assessment and found that she had Kleptomania.

EXAMPLE 2: A case study of a person with Kleptomania

The case was 45 years old male working as an HR of the multinational company, married and had two children, and pursued a highly sophisticated and luxurious life. He used to steal items from shops, in his office even from his friends and family. He felt bad about his behaviour and used to control these habits, but he doesn’t control his impulses. One day he was caught while stealing in one small shop, and he felt awful and ashamed, but he could not stop his habit. He introspected his actions. Finally, he checked his symptoms by surfing the internet and found it may be a psychological problem. He itself decided and reached out to the psychologist and was diagnosed as Kleptomania and under treatment.

Treatment of Kleptomania:

  • Kleptomania, like other mental disorders, cannot be cured but can be treated.

  • The prescription of medications is the most predominant treatment for Kleptomania such as antidepressants and deaddiction medications

  • The psychological therapies also help an individual with Kleptomania to some extent like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Psychotherapy, Systematic desensitisation and Aversion therapies

  • The Self- help groups helps to know about other’s methods used to manage the urge of stealing

Stigma and level of awareness about Kleptomania among the public:

Even many educated individuals do not aware of Kleptomania and consequences. They usually consider the individual who steals to be imperfect, and they don’t think why this happens. The general public will not know the difference between conduct disorder and Kleptomania. The stigma can be broken, and the awareness level can be raised to make the public aware of it. This may help to know about the symptoms they found with them or their close relationship, which may lead to seeking support from the professionals.


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Easton Taylor
Easton Taylor
Sep 13, 2021

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