Kleptomania is a mental disorder where one, bothered by extreme urges to claim something that does not belong to him/her, becomes addicted to stealing items. A kleptomaniac does not have to have motives behind his/her actions, be it monetary or any others. Rather, this person steals because he/she craves for this action, regardless if this involves stealing something from a mall or a small shop without paying for it, or taking things from other people's houses.
Kleptomaniacs are among Us
Be aware that there is one kleptomaniac on every 11 people in the US at this very moment, if you are to believe the statistics. This percentage of compulsive thieves cause damage to the economy of the state, causing retail sales to be deprived of millions of dollars.
Luckily, kleptomania can be dealt with and controlled, with the help of one's own moral and conscience. However, before this happens, these people need to be understood and given adequate support since they do not want to steal. Rather, they believe they have to.
These people are usually quite confused and do not even realize that they are doing anything wrong until someone tells them that they suffer from a mental disorder. This facing with reality often triggers a willingness for a change, leading to adequate treatment.
Signs of Kleptomania
This condition is usually kept covert by the people affected. Since kleptomaniacs rarely have control over their mischievous actions, they are ashamed of what they do and almost never reveal their secret “hobby” in order not to get caught, ridiculed and convicted. Depression can easily lead to kleptomania. Moreover, people with bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders may be prone to this compulsive stealing too. Interestingly, people with obsessive or compulsive behavioral disorders tend to become kleptomaniacs too.
Why Do They Steal?
Once a kleptomaniac steals something, he feels happy, overwhelmed with positive emotions of pleasure and satisfaction, getting the relief which he/she sought beforehand. Keep in mind that these people are not antisocial or bipolar. Additionally, they do not need the things they steal and focus more on the act than on the object. However, sometimes they might stick to stealing specific objects, considering these fetishes. Also, they have no anger or resentment issues.
These people are completely sane and aware of the wrongness of their acts. Amazingly, they commonly give the stolen items to people they like or even return them to their owners. Nevertheless, there are cases where they pile up stolen items, never using them again.
Treatment for Kleptomania
Most commonly, upon being diagnosed with kleptomania, people are prescribed with some mood stabilizers which suppress their urge to steal. Lithium is the most common one. Antidepressants like SSRIs can help, even though they have some side-effects. Finally, anti-seizure or anti-addiction medications can be used against kleptomania. Either way, a proper diagnosis and medical assessment is a must before any possible treatment.