Imagine: you walk into the store, feeling anxious. You see something that you absolutely do not need, but the internal impulse forces you to take it off the shelf, put it in your pocket or bag and sneak it out of the store. What is it? Are you a criminal? And how do you live with it?
Kleptomania is a common disorder, which was first described 200 years ago. This is a painful craving for theft, and often the object of theft is not significant to a person. The difference between the usual shoplifting, when a thief plans a crime and takes something he cannot afford, and kleptomania is that such theft is not planned, it is carried out impulsively to relieve the growing tension and get pleasure. In this case, there is no way to distinguish theft from the disease, because the exact causes of kleptomania are still unknown.
American experts believe that kleptomania affects about 5% of shoplifters, which leads to losses of up to $ 500 million a year. In total, kleptomania occurs in 6 out of 1,000 adults. And most often these are middle-aged women from 30 to 40 years. Often such behavior leads to reputational risks, arrest and following imprisonment. According to statistics, more than 68% of patients with kleptomania were arrested for theft, and 20% of them were convicted and imprisoned.
The signs of kleptomania include:
Attempts to fight the impulse to steal
Stealing things that do not have value, not necessary, or something that a person can easily afford
Feeling of relief and pleasure at the time of theft and a feeling of guilt and shame after the episode
Besides episodes of kleptomania, people fully support the generally accepted norms of behavior in society
The causes and signs of kleptomania
Kleptomania often occurs during adolescence. People who have experienced this disease noticed that the emotional state moves in a spiral: tension-theft-pleasure-feeling guilty.
The remorse after committed crime can have its own consequences. In some cases, this can lead to feelings of shame, self-reproach, depressive disorders and even considering suicide.
Along with kleptomania, people are confronted with bipolar disorder, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorders. Scientists believe that the manifestation of kleptomania can be associated with the substance abuse, and in 59% of people with kleptomania at some point an affective disorder or paranoid personality disorder has been diagnosed.
While the causes of kleptomania remain a research subject for many scientists, it is assumed that genetics and environment may be the key trigger. But nevertheless, it is possible to determine the diagnosis "kleptomania" only in those cases when the symptoms are not explained by other psychiatric disorders.
Supporters of the psychoanalytic approach tend to think that the aim of kleptomania treatment is to detect the main motives for human behavior and to correct it. Cognitive-behavioral approach notes that the disorder is intensified if the first episode of the theft was successful and had no consequences. Signals that lead to theft are too strong, a person cannot resist them, and over time, he has a behavior pattern that determins theft as a means of relieving stress. Proponents of the biological approach suggest that behavior can be associated with certain areas of the brain and impaired regulation of neurotransmitters.
What approach does IMC clinic use in treating kleptomania?
Our specialists consider on all the above approaches true, but we only use methods that have been proven effective. First, the team collects a detailed anamnesis. In addition to clarifying the history of the patient's illness, the specialist conducts a questionnaire and genetic testing. The latter determines the shortage of so-called "happiness hormones", that often become leading factor in the development of kleptomania. The obsessive attraction to theft does not arise from scratch – as a rule, the core of kleptomania is a deep feeling of dissatisfaction. Through vivid experiences – adrenaline, excitement, the risk of being uncovered and euphoric from impunity – a person seeks to compensate for this dissatisfaction.
Based on the results of DNA identification, the doctor gives the patient recommendations and prescribes a scheme for taking dietary supplements that help to fill this deficit.
After the problem is eliminated at such a deep level, the next step is working with a therapist. Psychotherapy is aimed at controlling obsessive thoughts and behaviors that contributed to theft. In addition, if necessary, special medications, including antidepressants, can be prescribed to correct behavior and relieve anxiety.
Due to the fact that often people are embarrassed to admit to theft, people come to specialists too late, when the other symptoms occure: eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety disorders. The secretive nature of kleptomania, feelings of guilt and shame can prevent timely diagnosis and treatment. Often the diagnosis is made only after the patient has beeb spotted by law enforcement.
It is important to remember that without the patient's own desire the treatment will not be successful. Therefore, at the first visit, an IMC center specialist helps to find a motivation for treatment. Experienced psychologist will help understand what the disease can lead to, how life can change if you do not seek professional help in time. Therefore, it is very important not to postpone your visit to specialists – call the phone on the web-site for your first consultation, it’s is free and anonymous.