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  • Dr Krisha Panchal

Kleptomania: It’s my mind stealing the show

Are you aware of the fact that kleptomania is an uncontrollable compulsion to steal readily available items, and individuals with this condition often steal insignificant objects, leading to subsequent feelings of remorse? Additionally, it's important to note that kleptomania cannot be employed as a legal defense, even in cases involving insanity.

Let’s dig in deep to find out more about kleptomania.


Kleptomania is a psychological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to steal items that have no real value or use for the individual. It is classified as an impulse control disorder and can have serious consequences for the individual's personal and professional life. In this article, we will explore the causes, signs and features, legal issues, psychological aspects, treatment, and prevention of kleptomania.


The exact causes of kleptomania are not fully understood, but research suggests that it may be related to a variety of factors. Some possible causes include:

  1. Genetics: Kleptomania may have a genetic component, as it appears to run in families.

  2. Neurotransmitters: Abnormalities in the brain's neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, may contribute to the development of kleptomania.

  3. Trauma: Trauma or stressful life events may trigger kleptomania in some individuals.

  4. Impulse control issues: Kleptomania is classified as an impulse control disorder, which means that individuals with the condition may have difficulty controlling their urges.

Signs and Features:

Kleptomania is characterized by recurrent episodes of stealing. The stolen items are often of little or no value to the individual and may be discarded or hidden away. Some common signs and features of kleptomania include:

  1. Stealing without planning or forethought.

  2. Feeling a sense of relief or pleasure after stealing.

  3. Stealing items that are not needed or desired.

  4. Feeling guilty or ashamed after stealing.

  5. Repeatedly stealing despite efforts to stop.

Legal Issues:

Kleptomania can have serious legal consequences for individuals who engage in stealing behavior. Depending on the severity of the offense, individuals may face fines, probation, or even jail time. It is important to note that kleptomania is recognized as a psychological disorder, and some courts may take this into consideration when sentencing individuals.

Psychological Aspects:

Kleptomania can have a significant impact on an individual's psychological well-being. Individuals with the disorder may feel ashamed, guilty, or anxious about their behavior. They may also struggle with low self-esteem and a sense of isolation. In some cases, kleptomania may co-occur with other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.


Treatment for kleptomania typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help individuals identify and address the underlying causes of their stealing behavior. Medications such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of the disorder.


Preventing kleptomania can be challenging, as the causes of the disorder are not fully understood. However, some strategies that may help include:

  1. Seeking treatment for underlying mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

  2. Practicing stress-management techniques, such as meditation or yoga.

  3. Avoiding situations or triggers that may lead to stealing behavior.

  4. Seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional.

In conclusion, kleptomania is a complex psychological disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of stealing. While the exact causes of the disorder are not fully understood, treatment options are available to help individuals manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. By understanding the signs and features of kleptomania and seeking appropriate treatment, individuals with the disorder can overcome their compulsions and live fulfilling lives.


· Talih FR. Kleptomania and potential exacerbating factors: a review and case report. Innov Clin Neurosci. 2011 Oct;8(10):35-9. PMID: 22132369; PMCID: PMC3225132.

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