Kleptomania is a serious condition that can result in destroyed relationships, lost jobs and even legal trouble. Many people who exhibit signs of kleptomania fail to seek help because they feel shame or are afraid of being turned over to the police. Better understanding of what kleptomania is, how it is treated, and how the mental health community handles kleptomania can help people who suspect they have kleptomania to get the help they need.
What are the signs of kleptomania?
Kleptomania is an impulse control disorder. People who have kleptomania will repeatedly steal items of little value. Typically, the items being stolen are things that the person suffering from kleptomania could afford to purchase and has no need to take. In the moments leading up to the theft, the person suffering from kleptomania may feel anxiety, but as the theft is taking place, person will feel great satisfaction and pleasure. After the theft takes place, the person suffering from kleptomania will typically feel great guilt or shame. Thefts of this nature are not done for personal gain but simply to satisfy the impulse.
Often, people suffering from this condition will steal from stores, although sometimes they steal from friends and loved ones. Because the item being stolen has no real value to the person, it may be kept without being used or given away.
Can kleptomania be cured?
There is no cure for kleptomania, however, with treatment the person suffering from this condition may be able to overcome the urge to steal. Treatments for kleptomania typically include:
- Adult counseling and psychotherapy. Therapists, such as at Park Center Inc, can help patients learn exercises and techniques that can make the condition more manageable.
- Medication. There is no medication designed specifically to treat kleptomania, however, some medications that treat other conditions may help curve symptoms of kleptomania. Since patients who are diagnosed with kleptomania often have other mental health diagnoses, the type of medications used to treat kleptomania may vary.
Will your therapist turn you in to the authorities if you confide that you've been stealing from others?
Typically, therapists will not turn in patients who confess crimes during therapy sessions. The purpose of therapy is to help the patient resist the urge to steal, not to get the patient into trouble with the law. In addition, with proper treatment, patients may stop their activity, which is the ultimate goal. Since turning the patient into the authorities may disrupt the treatment process, such an act would be counterproductive. People who have questions about the treatment of kleptomania should speak with an experienced and reputable therapist in their area.