Essay Preview: Kleptomania
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Kleptomania is a mental disorder in which the infected person has the impulse to steal objects that have little or no known value to them. The kleptomaniac could easily purchase the item that was stolen, but research has shown that most do it for the adrenaline rush experienced from stealing. Kleptomania has no treatment. People diagnosed with the disorder are advocated to go through psychotherapy or take an anti-depressant medication. As knowledge of kleptomania grows, society has grown more readily to accept it and many more theories about the cause of the disorder have emerged (MJ Goldman, Harvard Medical School).

General Information:
Kleptomania is not classified as shoplifting. Those who experience kleptomaniac symptoms often steal for the rush and not the need. “One theory proposes that the thrill of stealing helps to alleviate symptoms in persons who are clinically depressed” (Gale, Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders). Another theory is that items are stolen to “release tension that has been building in them” (www.mental-health-matters.com). Since the kleptomaniac ultimately feels guilty for steeling, objects stolen are usually returned, thrown away, hidden, or given away to others as gifts.

When a kleptomaniac is found guilty of shoplifting, the United States and the United Kingdom court systems do not consider the illness of kleptomania as a valid mental disorder. Those who are caught stealing have to face the consequences that come along with shoplifting just like the person who steals and does not have the disorder. “The kind of theft that attracts people with kleptomania is known legally as larceny. Larcenies are thefts that do not involve violence, personal robbery or burglary” (Clarke, irishhealth.com). Those who do get caught usually pay the fines as quickly as possible to try and hide their disorder from the public (Clarke).

The average diagnosed kleptomaniac is usually female and normally between the ages of 16 and 65, yet some cases have been linked to those as young as 5 years old (Goldman). Right before the kleptomaniac is able to steal an object they feel an adrenaline rush over take their mental state. Many describe it as, “[experiencing] the impulse to steal as an alien, [an] unwanted intrusion into their mental state” (psychnet-uk.com). Most kleptomaniacs steal for an average of 16 years and can go for long periods of time without stealing anything. Unlike shoplifters, kleptomaniacs often take items on impulse without planning or thinking of the possible repercussions. “Only an estimated 5% of people who steal from shops are clinically kleptomaniac” (Clarke, irishhealth.com). For those with kleptomania, going into a store is experienced differently than it is for the rest of society (Gale).

The exact cause of kleptomania is unknown, however, many researchers believe that it is caused by other mental disorders such as, “depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance abuse, and eating disorders” (Allen, Bringham and

Womens Hospital Health Information). Many researchers theorize that kleptomania is triggered by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The chemical that is supposed to cause kleptomania is serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical within “the central nervous system [that] is believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep, emesis (vomiting), sexuality and appetite” (wikipedia.com). Serotonin also causes other disorders such as, ” bipolar mood disorder, conduct disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and [cause] manic episodes in response to delusions and dementia” (PsychNet-UK). Major losses such as a death in the family, can also trigger kleptomania. Some also theorize that as the kleptomaniac grows older, the serotonin imbalance in the brain gets stronger and other disorders form that are more noticeable to the infected than kleptomania. Because the true cause of the disorder is unknown, many have hypothesized that it is brought on by the individual and those who have it do not necessarily know what they are doing (Jill Landis).

The most common symptom of kleptomania is compulsive stealing. “The individual frequently tries to avoid this behavior, which by its own nature, is irresistible” (Silvia Helena Cardoso, PhD Psychobiologist, State University of Campinas). Other symptoms include anxiety, nervousness, and other mental disorders. The person feels anxiety until after the item has been successfully stolen. Once the item is in their possession, the infected feel a sense of relief and gratification before leaving the site at which the item was stolen. Unlike most shoplifters, when those with kleptomania steal “the stealing is not committed to express anger or vengeance and is not in response to a delusion or a hallucination” (Mental Health Net Staff) . They steal to repress an addiction much like any other addict would (Laura Stephens). Those diagnosed with kleptomania can have different ranges of symptoms. Some kleptomaniacs know exactly what they are doing, while others feel like they have no control over the situation, “voluntary control is deeply affected; the patient is constrained to practice [acts] which are not dictated by his reasoning, nor by his emotions; acts that his consciousness condemns, but [show] no intention (Cardoso). Depending on the individual, the symptoms of the kleptomaniac can be subtle or overwhelming (Heffner Media Group).

Kleptomania is diagnosed as an “impulse control disorder” and there for has little to no treatment (AllPsych and Heffner Media Group). Medications that are used to treat kleptomania are commonly found in the anti-depressant category. Such medications include, “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which lower serotonin levels in the brain like Fluoxetine (Prozac), Fluvoxamine (Luvox), Paroxetine (Paxil), Lithium, Trazodone (Desyrel, Trialodine), Valproic acid (Depakene, Valproate, Valrelease), naltrexone, and Sertraline (Zoloft)” (Alan, Swedish Medical Center and Grant JE, pubmed.gov).

The most effective drug prescribed to those with kleptomania is naltrexone. Naltrexone is most commonly used to treat drug and alcohol addictions but also works to reduce the “high” feeling that comes along with suppressing an addiction. Naltrexone is used to reduce the “high” feeling that comes to kleptomaniacs after they have stolen an object (Thompson Healthcare). When naltrexone was tested on 13 patients diagnosed with kleptomania,

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Mental Disorder And Cause Of The Disorder. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.freeessays.education/mental-disorder-and-cause-of-the-disorder-essay/