Lois Griffen of The Family Guy had a bout of it. Creed Bratton of The Office has admitted to being affected with it, and Dawn Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was diagnosed with it: Kleptomania.
Kleptomania is a condition in which a person has an uncontrolled urge to steal. Unlike shoplifters, it’s not because they want a particular item and can't afford it. In fact, sometimes, the things cost next to nothing like paperclips or candy. Also, they often throw away the stolen items, or secretly return them to the store from which they were taken.
During the act of theft, a kleptomaniac usually feels a lot of tension just moments before the desired object is stolen. This feeling continues until the theft is completed, and then person begins experiencing pleasure and satisfaction. In some cases though, the excitement also comes with guilt and remorse, which may cause them to return the stolen item(s).
Did You Know?
Thefts by kleptomaniacs are not a result of hallucinations, delusions or even as an act of revenge. Who’s Affected?
Chances are, if you’ve been diagnosed with Kleptomania, you likely have another psychological disorder such as major depression, eating disorders like bulimia nervosa, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. In fact, there is a 65% correlation for individuals suffering from Kleptomania and Bulemia nervosa, but only 7% with Kleptomania and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
When you hear about someone being caught stealing from a store, you are more likely to hear that it happened by a shoplifter rather than a kleptomaniac. This is because Kleptomania is quite a rare disorder, with only 0.6% of the general population being affected.
Not all shoplifters are kleptomaniacs either - only about 1% of people who shoplift are diagnosed with kleptomania. But with the lack of knowledge and proper tools for diagnosing the condition among affected individuals, these numbers are only a rough estimate.
When it comes to gender ratios, females seem to be more likely targets. Although the average age for these women is usually 35 years old, onset can date back to childhood or adolescents!
Did You Know?
The average length of time of being affected with Kleptomania is 16 years. Is There a Scientific Explanation?
Although the exact cause of kleptomania still isn’t unknown, there’s a lot of proof to suggest that changes in brain may contribute to Kleptomania.
Some studies have shown that people with Kleptomania have an imbalance in the levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter; a chemical that carries information between a neuron (brain cell) and another cell. It is linked to mood, sleep, depression, pain-perception and other neurological disorders.
Too much or too little of it can alter the brain’s normal functions. Scientists have found that kleptomaniacs tend to have lower levels of serotonin. Other studies have shown that there may also be changes in the frontal lobe of the brain as this region controls behavior and emotion.
It’s not just biological changes in the body either. Stressful life occurrences and great loss can also contribute to the onset of kleptomaniac behaviour.
How it’s Treated
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Kleptomania, there is help available. Treatment varies from personal or family therapy and counseling to preventive drugs such as Prozac (an antidepressant known to boosts levels of serotonin).
Although kleptomania is a medically recognized disorder, shoplifting and peer pressure induced dares should not be blamed on it, seeing as theft is still a criminal act, which bares repercussions appropriate to such offense!
Mind Disorders: Kleptomania
Published in Health