7 behaviours that indicate kleptomania disorder

Do you remember the instance of reading this term’ kleptomania,’ while we were at school? Apart from knowing something new, the meaning of this word got us more inquisitive. But soon enough, we forgot all about it. Even now, when we hear about a kleptomaniac, many questions creep into our minds. Let us at last answer all those forgotten questions.

Demystifying a kleptomaniac

Kleptomania disorder is a type of impulse control disorder where the individual cannot control his desire but steal. Not like kleptomaniacs intentionally steal due to financial deprivations. They do so out of the basic concept of satisfying their urge. The compulsive stealing and the feeling of relief thereafter are the trademarks of a kleptomaniac.

Did you know-

Along with thieves and robbers, kleptomaniacs also give a hand in depleting the economical status of the country, summing up to approximately Rs. 3,500 crore loss annually!

Cause of the disorder? 

Not really known! Unfortunately, people with kleptomania have been understudied and mostly misjudged. 

People assume kleptomania is used as a legal defense. But, this is only an overhyped theory. Many people may consider many things, but that cannot be all the truth. From thinking they are thieves to not feeling guilt. Kleptomaniacs are actually a part of a puzzle that we have only commented on but never known completely.

Behaviours that indicate kleptomania disorder –

  • Irresistible urge to steal-

Although being aware of the disorder, kleptomaniacs are not positioned high enough in their minds to control this urge. Call it a run-down heritage issue or psychological problem. The truth of a kleptomaniac person is that even if he tries with all his will, the urge of his impulses is much stronger. These people steal and scar the image of both themselves and their families. The irony, however, is, they conceal their misconducts out of the fear of getting defamed and not to fool jurisdiction. 

  • Tension buildup before stealing-

The intention to steal is an impromptu act. No prior arrangement of how to go on with it. No fear of getting caught. Just an impulse to act! Kleptomania is a disorder of the mind. Low levels of serotonin can be a causative reason behind this rash behaviour. Serotonin is the emotion and action regulation centre, so scientists have somehow connected the two ends. Whatever be the reason, to stop a kleptomaniac is almost an impossible task. Only therapy may come down as a relief measure. 

  • Gratification after stealing-

A massive gush of relief flows when the person soothes down his impulse. In this context, dopamine plays a part. The neurotransmitter is responsible for the onset of pleasure that keeps the person clinging on to more such effects. Researchers draw a connection that few people turn out to be kleptomaniacs to symbolically compensate for the loss of something or to overcome negligence. Stealing becomes a stress-buster for such people. Their minds are rewired as such that specific environments and feelings are the outlets of their anxiousness. When similar cues are exposed to them, they respond in a similar manner to yet again feel the dopamine-dependent happiness. 

  • Self loath after an impulsive attitude-

The kleptomaniac may greedily hoard things. He may also feel immense satisfaction after pulling out the act. But then comes the remorse. Call it some irony! Kleptomaniacs are filled with self-recrimination after the episode of stealing. The incidence is more common during the adolescent period and in cases of women. However, no concrete evidence of why it happens has been yet known about this age and gender-biased mental illness.

  • Stealing objects of no monetary value-

A person suffering from kleptomania is considered a thief. Unaware of the fact to many people that kleptomania is a mental disease. Kleptomaniacs hover around in supermarkets, stores, and even at their friend’s, relatives’ places to sneak away items that actually carry no value. It is to be understood that kleptomaniacs steal out of the sheer fantasy/urge of their mind and not to fill up their pockets with gold! A typical thief differs from a mentally inflicted kleptomaniac. Both in anyways cannot be equated as in kleptomania, people do not steal items purposefully, but they do so profusely…only to submerge their yearning!

  • Stashing away the objects that are stolen-

As seen, kleptomaniacs steal objects that do not rate high in value. In fact, they do not even opt to steal away something that they require or have an interest in. What after that? 

After the episode of stealing and repentance, a kleptomaniac person discards away the item, donates it, or at times even places it back from where they have stolen it. More often, kleptomaniacs never even look back at the objects that they have stolen. So is it still right of us to tag them as a thief or is it better to provide them with treatment?

  • The cycle of repetition-

Kleptomaniacs are continuously stuck in the doldrums. From the onset of their need to content the urge, to a stealing spree, to ultimately living in guilt for their actions. This vicious cycle keeps on repeating anytime that they get triggered to similar situations or emotions and thus, again starts their battle with their ‘gut.’ 

Associated symptoms-

Stats say that around 73% of kleptomaniacs are diagnosed with some other mental disorders. They may be:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Prevention and treatment-

Kleptomaniacs are treated either by medications or psychotherapy. 

Sadly, in terms of prevention, since there is no apparent cause to the disorder, preventing it at an initial state is not possible. However, early intervention to such acts and offering treatment to it can make matters halt and also stop in the long run. It is necessary to help people suffering from kleptomania to avoid distress and legal consequences.

If this disorder grasps you or any of your loved ones, you may reach out to us at Hopecare to provide the best treatment available.

Call us now at 91-931112377 to live a life where you do not need to hide anymore.

Author: Dr. Deepak Raheja

Hope Care established under the guidance of Dr. Deepak Raheja, President at Delhi Psychiatric Society is a psychiatric center of excellence that endeavors to restore hope and well-being to individuals and families afflicted by mental ill-health through comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation services. Hopecare seeks to set benchmarks in innovative programs in treatment, care, and education.

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