Although you might have heard of the term – Kleptomaniac, most people don’t understand what the mental disorder kleptomania entails. According to the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (also known as the DSM-IV TR), to be diagnosed with kleptomania, you have to show certain characteristics.
Take a look at the signs exhibited by kleptomaniacs:
1. You can’t resist the urge to take something that doesn’t belong to you. If, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t stop yourself from pocketing a piece of jewelry while shopping or taking a $20 bill from your mother’s pocketbook, you might be struggling with kleptomania. Low impulse control is a classic symptom to look for in this illness.
2. You don’t really need the items you take. Maybe you’ve already got plenty of bottles of perfume, but still, you slip a bottle into your purse when you’re shopping at Saks.
3. Feelings of anxiety and tension build up before you steal something. If you’re living with kleptomania, you may feel rising nervous feelings that compel you to take something. These tense emotions and urges might seem impossible to overcome at the time.
4. Positive emotions increase after the theft occurs. Once you take something, you don’t feel tense or anxious anymore. In fact, you might notice you’re feeling great relief or even satisfaction after you steal something.
5. You engage in shoplifting occasionally. Although not all shoplifters are kleptomaniacs, the latest statistics reveal that about 5% of shoplifters do have kleptomania. So, if you shoplift, you have an increased chance of receiving the diagnosis.
6. Other reasons for your thefts have been ruled out. If you haven’t been diagnosed with other disorders, you could have kleptomania. Of course, if you’re stealing food because you or your children need to eat, that would not be considered kleptomania.
* In essence, if you steal things you need out of desperation, you would not warrant a diagnosis of kleptomania.
Those with kleptomania are much more likely to be women than men. Items taken by kleptomaniacs often have no real value to the person and are often discarded after they’re stolen.
What Should You Do if You Think You Might Have Kleptomania?
Because of the devastating effects having kleptomania can have on your life, the list of what you should do is quite short and to the point.
1. Tell a close friend or family member you believe you might have kleptomania. This way, it won’t be a secret burden that you bear alone.
2. Never go shopping alone. You’re less likely to steal something if you have a friend or relative with you, especially if they know about your history of theft.
3. Journal about how you feel regarding your theft incidents. Journaling could help you get to the bottom of what is going on with you emotionally when you steal. Maybe then you can work to correct the true issue in your life that is leading you to commit theft.
4. Call a professional. You’ll not likely overcome this struggle alone. Professionals are bound by certain rules of confidentiality and therefore cannot tell anyone about what you talk about, unless it involves doing great harm to yourself or others. When you seek counseling, your discussions will be private and kept within the boundaries of federal and state laws.
* Because you might have an inordinate amount of anxiety or other difficult feelings, medications can be prescribed which could actually help you regain control over this complex set of feelings and behaviors.
If you have kleptomania, recognize that it is an illness for which you can get help. Those who have kleptomania can get better with proper guidance and treatment. Change your life for the better by overcoming your urges to steal from people and stores. Educate yourself about this condition and take the proper steps to combat these urges today. You’ll be glad you did.