Stealing or kleptomania is a strong urge some people feel to steal something they don’t need. These people cannot resist this felt impulse and may steal unplanned. You can find more information below.
What is kleptomania?
Kleptomania or compulsive stealing, also known as the stealing disorder , is a common cause of stealing that many people don’t know about. This type of stealing, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) , relates to a psychological compulsion/impulse rather than a desire to gain something material or financial.
Stealing is a recurrent failure to resist the urge to steal. In most cases of kleptomania, the person steals things they don’t need. Stolen items are often of little or no value, and most people can afford to steal them anyway. This is very different from theft that is done for need or because it has any value.
People with kleptomania feel the anxiety, tension, arousal, and strong urge to steal that accompanies stealing, and then a feeling of pleasure and relaxation. Many people with kleptomania feel guilt and remorse after the stealing is over, but then they can’t resist the urge again.
While most cases of theft are premeditated, people with this disorder do not make decisions ahead of time, they are often snappy and unable to restrain their impulses. Unlike the theft for necessity, items stolen by people with kleptomania are rarely used. They’ll probably hide them, throw them away, or something similar.
How common is it?
Although theft is common, true cases of stealing disease are extremely rare. It is 0.3% to 0.6% of the general population. It is difficult to know exactly how many people have the disorder, as it is a disgraceful crime and is not shared with anyone. Kleptomania appears to be more common in women than men.
What causes kleptomania?
Little is known about the exact cause of stealing disease. Researchers are investigating a possible link between impulse control disorders, including stealing disease, and certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters help nerve cells in the brain send messages to each other. An imbalance of these chemicals can affect how the brain controls impulses. It is believed that a great deal of stress can trigger impulsive behavior.
People with kleptomania often have other mental disorders as well. The most common are depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse. This suggests that there may be a link between such disorders and the development of stealing disease.
What are the symptoms of kleptomania?
A person with a stealing disorder has a repetitive and irresistible urge to steal. Some people with this disorder may feel guilty afterwards and may even try to return the objects they have stolen. Other symptoms that occur with stealing disease include:
- Feeling of tension and excitement associated with the drive
- A feeling of relaxation, satisfaction, or pleasure after acting on an urge to steal an object
- Sudden and unplanned theft
- Theft without any objective reason
How is kleptomania diagnosed?
If symptoms are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical examination. There are no tests such as x-rays or blood tests to diagnose stealing disease , but tests can be used to rule out any physical cause, as it could be a sign of a head injury or brain disorder.
The doctor may refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist (healthcare professionals specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illness). Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for impulse control disorder.
How is kleptomania treated?
Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) is the main treatment for impulse control disorders. The goal of treatment is to help the person understand why they are acting on the impulse and learn how to respond to impulses more appropriately. It is also important to treat other conditions that may be present, such as depression or anxiety.
Steal disease treatment typically focuses on behavior management. In some cases, it can be used as part of a drug therapy program. Some antidepressant medications, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , can help reduce very intense urges.
Other drugs are being investigated for use in people with stealing disease. Some newly developed drugs have shown some promise in controlling impulse-based behavior. Some of these drugs are now used to help alcoholics control their urge to drink.
Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take and how.
Can kelptomania be prevented?
There is no known way to prevent stealing disease. However, getting treatment as soon as symptoms appear can help reduce problems with a person’s life, family, and friends. It may also be helpful to avoid situations that may trigger the urge to steal. For example, he may avoid stores when he feels the urge to steal.
Stealing treatment has proven successful in some cases, but because it is a crime, many people with this disorder never seek treatment. However, evidence suggests that the urge to steal may decrease as a person ages.
People with kleptomania may have problems in relationships due to stealing from family members and friends. Work-related problems can also arise if a person with kleptomania steals from their employer or coworker. Because stealing is a crime, people with kleptomania are at risk for legal trouble. Often, a person with kleptomania seeks treatment only when challenged by the legal system. Kleptomania tends to persist even after the person has been repeatedly arrested.