Kleptomania is a rare condition where one has the constant urge to take something that is not his. It doesn’t have to be of any value, or he doesn’t even need it. Kleptomaniacs feel satisfaction after a successful theft. This condition has been very controversial and mysterious as people who have kleptomania are living with shame and keep their situation a secret. According to Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, “Kleptomania is behaviorally categorized as an impulse control disorder. Not only is the person fighting the kleptomania, they often have comorbid issues to deal with as well. Other types of mental disorders including eating, drug use, mood, impulse control, and anxiety are often present in conjunction with the kleptomania.”
Kleptomania is believed to be correlated with mental disorders such as anxiety and depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is most common in females and could manifest at the early age of 5, but the average age of this condition is 35. “Women tend to shop compulsively, binge eat, or exhibit kleptomania,” according to Dr. Hindie M. Klein, a psychologist and psychoanalyst. This means that women who shop in an addicting manner may also manifest kleptomaniac tendencies.
“People steal for many reasons, ranging from poverty to criminality. For this person, stealing is not a rational decision, executed with planning, but instead is a faulty way of coping with unwanted thoughts of feelings,” according to Samantha Smithstein Psy.D.
Can kleptomania be treated?
Some therapies such as behavior modification therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy and psychodynamic therapy are used to help in treating people with kleptomania. These treatments are usually used to treat an underlying mental disorder that may have contributed to the condition.
Behavior Modification Therapy
Behavior modification therapy is imposing a discipline on a person. It’s like acknowledging what good behavior and bad behavior is and how not repeatedly to do it. It’s like disciplining children and training pets. You tell them what to do and what not do.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is understanding how you perceive things and how you function. This approach helps in identifying the cause and effect of your actions, therefore giving clarity to what may be triggering a particular behavior. After understanding how you function based on your perception, the therapist then can determine the approach that should be applied.
The goal of family therapy is to educate the family, to have a better understanding and to have an idea about what might have caused kleptomania. The family is always in contact with the patient giving the possibility that they are contributing to the condition. Therefore, they are a big help in the treatment process.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on our subconscious. Specific events in our lives may have impacted our personality and behavior that we are not aware of. We just moved on but did not deal with the negativity caused by a particular incident. Your therapist aims to identify this and help you deal with it, so you can finally heal and live life without the negativity.
There are also specific medications prescribed by doctors to help people with kleptomania such as antidepressants. Antidepressants used for treating other kinds of mental disorders. It is always best to consult your doctor when it comes to medications as there are risks and contraindications for these drugs.
When to see a specialist:
If you are suspecting yourself to having this kind of condition, it is best to seek advice from professionals who specialize in this case. They should have extensive experience in dealing with people with kleptomania and would know what to do.
People with kleptomania are often too ashamed of this condition and are too scared to seek help, but asking medical advice before it gets worse is better than facing the awful consequence. Remember that theft is punishable by law, meaning you could go to jail!