Adult Resources
Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders

Compulsive Stealing

This problem is popularly known as Kleptomania. It involves an impulse to steal objects which are not needed for the personal use of the individual or for their monetary value. This kind of behaviour is impulsive and occurs with out extensive planning. The individual feel that his/ her action is irrational and wrong. However, he/ she is unable to control his/ her impulsive behaviour.

The individual experiences increasing tension before the act and pleasure, gratification or relief at the time of committing the act of stealing. The stealing is not committed to express anger or vengeance and is not in response to any other psychiatric disorders. Kleptomania should be distinguished from shoplifting, in which the action is usually well-planned and motivated by monetary gain.

This disorder is mainly seen in women. The average age of patients is generally about 35. The causes of kleptomania are unknown, but there is indirect evidence linking it with abnormalities in the brain chemical serotonin. Stressors such as major losses may also precipitate kleptomanic behavior. Treatment will include counseling and psychotherapeutic approaches and in some cases combined with drug therapy.

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