CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Kleptomania

Definition

Kleptomania is the inability to resist impulses to steal. The things that are stolen are not needed for personal use or their monetary value. This is a rare condition.

Causes    TOP

The exact cause of kleptomania is not known. Chemical imbalances in the brain may play a role.

Frontal Lobe

Frontal lobe
Psychological disorders are sometimes the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. The frontal lobe of the brain is thought to provide impulse control.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors    TOP

Kleptomania appears to be more common in females than in males.

Kleptomania often occurs with other psychological disorders. These include:

Other factors that may increase your risk include:

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms of kleptomania include all of the following:

  • A repeated inability to resist impulses to steal things that are not of personal value
  • A feeling of relief, joy, and/or pleasure when stealing things
  • Feeling of guilt or remorse after the event
  • Thefts that are not committed out of anger, or for revenge or personal gain
  • Lack of a better explanation for the theft, such as another psychological disorder

Diagnosis    TOP

Kleptomania is different from shoplifting or ordinary theft, which is:

  • Deliberate
  • Motivated by the stolen item's usefulness or monetary value
  • The result of a dare, an act of rebellion, or a rite of passage

A psychiatrist or psychologist will diagnose kleptomania when:

  • All of the symptoms of kleptomania are present
  • There is no other, better explanation for repeated thefts
  • Kleptomania is not an excuse for shoplifting or ordinary theft

Treatment    TOP

Treatment may involve treating an underlying disease. Other treatments include:

Counseling or Therapy

Counseling or therapy may be in a group or one-to-one setting. It is usually aimed at dealing with underlying psychological problems that may be contributing to kleptomania. It may also include:

Stress reduction techniques, including medication, yoga, or tai chi, may also be taught in therapy.

Medications

Drugs used for treatment include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, medications to treat drug addiction, and medications to treat seizure disorders.

Prevention    TOP

There are no current guidelines to prevent kleptomania because the cause is not known.

RESOURCES:

American Psychiatric Association
https://www.psychiatry.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Mental Health Association
https://cmha.ca
Canadian Psychiatric Association
http://www.cpa-apc.org

References:

Aboujaoude E, Gamel N, Koran L. Overview of kleptomania and phenomenological description of 40 patients. Prim Care Companion. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;6(6):244-247.
The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. New York, NY: Columbia University Press; 2001.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
Kuzma JM, Black DW. Compulsive disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2004;6(1):58-65.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 10/12/2015

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000