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Kleptomania

Definition

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

Causes

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.
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Risk Factors

Kleptomania often occurs with other psychological disorders. These include:
Other risk factors include:
Kleptomania appears to be more common in females than in males. There are no other known risk factors.

Symptoms

Symptoms of kleptomania include all of the following:

Diagnosis

Kleptomania is different from shoplifting or ordinary theft, which is:
A psychiatrist or psychologist will diagnose kleptomania when:

Treatment

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:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Behavior modification therapy
  • Family therapy
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

There are no guidelines for preventing kleptomania. The exact cause is not known.

RESOURCES

American Psychiatric Association http://www.psych.org

Mental Health America http://www.nmha.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org

Canadian Psychological Association http://www.cpa.ca

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. 4th ed. American Psychiatric Association; 1994.

Kuzma JM, Black DW. Compulsive disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2004 Feb;6(1):58-65.

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