(Also Known As: Kleptomaniac, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Shoplifting, Stealing, Borderline Personality)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Kleptomania?

Kleptomania is a strong desire to steal and belongs under the impulse control disorder category in the DSM IV TR. A Kleptomaniac usually steals items or things that they could normally afford to buy or things that are not very expensive.1 Persons with Kleptomania usually have the compulsion to steal not for any monetary value, but because of the thrill of doing so. This is what makes Kleptomania distinguishable from normal stealing, theft, or shoplifting.

Shoplifters usually exhibit premeditation of stealing, taking into account the value of the items they are about to steal. Kleptomaniacs do not contemplate the value of the items they steal, but rather perform the act of stealing only when they are compelled to do so. Kleptomania, considered a type of an impulse control disorder2, involves an irresistible impulse to perform an act that can be harmful to oneself or to others. Kleptomaniacs exhibit an impulsive behavior to steal, and while they are aware that such action can be harmful, they cannot resist the temptation to steal. Kleptomaniacs usually feel excitement and gratification which they are obsessed with. The compulsion to steal is so strong it can result in anxiety and extreme tension and arousal when not performing the act of stealing. Kleptomaniacs feel an intense guilt, self loathing, remorse, and fear of arrest as the consequence of their actions, but when the urge to steal comes back, the Kleptomania cycle once again repeats itself.

The onset of the Kleptomania usually begins in puberty and may last until late adulthood, and in some cases may last a lifetime. Kleptomania is also associated with other behavioral disorders such as paranoia, Schizophrenia, and Borderline Personality Disorder.

Could You Have Kleptomania?

Kleptomania Topics

Related Conditions

Borderline Personality Disorder – Variable Moods, Split Personalities, Unstable Personality, Disturbed Sense of Self
Bulimia Nervosa – Anorexia, Binge Eating, Purging, Stress, Depression, Excessive Eating
Impulse Control Disorder – Pyromania, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Compulsion, Uncontrolled Impulse, Kleptomania
Intermittent Explosive Disorder – Uncontrolled Rage, Disruptive Behavior, Mood Disorder, Compulsive, Impulsive Disorder
Pyromania – Starting of Fire to Relieve Tension, Impulsive, Compulsive Behavior