Kleptomania And OCD

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August 25, 2016

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An Overview on Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a disorder of the mind which on impulse, a person will steal, even if the object is immaterial. There is this compelling drive that makes a klepto unable to resist the urge to steal something not because they want to. They take things that don’t belong to them because they can’t help it. In their minds, they have to steal because with stealing, they can find comfort and relief. Before they take away something, kleptomaniacs feel stressed out and tensed. It’s not about the things they take or the value of those things. They just need to steal it to pacify their being.

Is Kleptomania a mental illness?

Clearly, Kleptomania is a mental illness. The mind is controlling the person with thoughts of taking what is not theirs or else, there will be stress, anxiety and perhaps, panic episodes. It will be an emotional roller coaster for the person. There is an urge to do something that is not right which is stealing. No normal person would steal a used underwear, but a klepto would do that and they can’t even provide a reason why. So, yes. Kleptomania is a very serious mental health disorder and it is not easy to treat.

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Can Kleptomania be considered part of OCD?

Kleptomania is under the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder category. It is an impulse-control disorder with the extreme urge to take things from other people, usually worthless things. There is a compulsion to do it and the person cannot control this impulse. Kleptomania is often connected with OCD and Bulimia, an eating disorder which also happens to be a mental health illness, as well.

Is Kleptomania an addiction disease?

For kleptomaniacs, they feel stress and tense before stealing. After the deed, they are relieved and for most of them, they sense this thrill or excitement. In a way, Kleptomania can bring forth an addiction because of this “thrill”. If not addressed, it can become addictive.

What makes a person Kleptomaniac?

In the United States, 6 out of 1000 people suffer from Kleptomania, according to the NCBI or the National Center for Biotechnology Information. It means that 1.2M American adults are kleptomaniacs and they are struggling every day to be “normal”. Anyway, researchers believe that there is a brain chemical called serotonin that is linked with why a person become kleptomaniac. It is an imbalance of brain chemicals which produces a confusion in the mind.

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How can Kleptomania be diagnosed?

Medical experts cannot pinpoint an exact medical plan on how to diagnose Kleptomania, but as observed by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:

– A person just can’t resist stealing worthless things regularly.
– They feel stressed out and tensed which makes them steal to find immediate relief. Sometimes, it provides a state of “highness” after taking things that doesn’t belong to them.
– The act of stealing is not prompted by any other emotion like anger, sadness, revenge, hallucinations and others. They just feel the need to steal.

There will be a series of questions which will be asked to a kleptomaniac and from there, psychiatrists can provide their diagnosis.

In general, why do people steal?

People steal for a variety of reasons, but mostly it’s about monetary needs. For kleptomaniacs, they are not particular about stealing something expensive. Although, there are some kleptomaniacs who steal costly objects, but it’s not always the case. Their disorder is compelling them to steal whatever they can steal when it “attacks” them.

Is there a way to help those suffering from Kleptomania?

There is no known cure for a Kleptomaniac, but with proper medication and intensive psychotherapy, the person can be helped. Some antidepressants, mood stabilizers and prescription medication given to drug addicts can help curb their urges to steal. If they don’t have the urge, they won’t be able to steal. The imbalance of brain chemicals may be corrected. Also, when a person with kleptomania undergoes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, he or she will be more aware of what’s happening and that can put a stop to his or her stealing.

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