There are an abundance of psychological disorders that many people around the world experience at one point in their lifetime, one of which is kleptomania. You may have heard about it either in readings or by word-of-mouth and this mental disorder is incredibly prevalent throughout the world. Understanding kleptomania and the constant desire to partake in the activities associated with the disorder will help an individual to seek an appropriate amount of treatment to help eliminate the behavior.
Statistics About Kleptomania
1. The true statistics pertaining to kleptomania are relatively unknown as many individuals do not seek treatment or professional assistance.
2. Approximately 6 in 1000 people suffer from this mental disorder, translating to approximately 1.2 million people in the United States.
3. 0.6% of people in the world are kleptomaniacs.
4. 65% of individuals with kleptomania also suffer from bulimia.
5. Kleptomania may be the cause of over 5% of shoplifting losses which accumulates to approximately $500 million in retail costs annually.
6. The majority of individuals who suffer from kleptomania begin exhibiting symptoms during their late adolescence and early adult years.
7. In rare cases, individuals over the age of 50 have exhibited signs of kleptomania.
8. Women are more likely to have kleptomania than men.
9. 20% to 46% of individuals with this disorder also have other impulse control disorders.
10. 23% to 50% of individuals also suffer from substance use and/or abuse.
11. 45% to 100% of sufferers also suffer from mood disorders.
12. One of the largest risk factors for this mental disorder is a family history that relates to kleptomania or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
13. There have been cases of individuals developing kleptomania if they have suffered from a head injury.
14. Many individuals who are depressed will develop kleptomania as it provides them with an immense amount of pleasure to steal objects.
15. The majority of kleptomaniacs steal objects that are of little value.
16. Many sufferers will throw out the objects that they steal or give them away, in comparison to keeping them.
17. Many patients with this disorder explained that they felt a sense of depersonalization (being in a dream-like state) while they were performing the act.
18. The act of stealing is done independently and without the assistance of others.
19. Cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants are generally the chosen method of treatment for patients with kleptomania.
20. Kleptomaniacs may experience a long period of remission between committing the acts of stealing.
21. The lifestyle of kleptomaniacs will depend mostly on their disorder as they will avoid shopping malls and other stores to prevent the act of stealing.
22. The majority of individuals suffering from kleptomania do not seek the assistance of a mental health professional.
Understanding the Disease
When an individual has the constant urge to steal objects due to an overwhelming amount of stress or pressure is the general definition for kleptomania. Once the individual completes the act of stealing a particular object, their stress is completely released. The majority of behavioral psychiatrists find that kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder and many others find it to fall within the realm of obsessive compulsive disorder. With that being said, many individuals who exhibit this behavior also have other mental disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse. Therefore, the majority of treatment centers will provide a method of treatment for all of these disorders as well as the kleptomania.
In order to be eligible to receive treatment for this disorder, individuals must meet the criteria set by a manual that is frequently used by psychiatric professionals around the world. The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) classifies kleptomania by the following characteristics:
1. Being unable to prevent the urges associated with stealing objects that are not necessary for the private use of the individual or to be sold for any financial value.
2. An ample amount of stress and/or pressure that is felt prior to participating in the act of stealing.
3. A feeling of relief or satisfaction once the individual performs the theft.
4. The theft is not a direct attempt to achieve revenge or to antagonize a particular person.
5. The theft is not a result of other mental disorders such as manic episodes or personality disorders.
The most unfortunate aspect of kleptomania is that it prevents the sufferer from leading a productive lifestyle as they are constantly faced with the need to steal. Generally sufferers will exhibit an ample amount of shame and guilt due to their compulsions and they will often face legal consequences. These emotions are not only felt by the sufferer but also by their friends and family members as well.
Much like other mental disorders, the majority of negative aspects of kleptomania revolve around emotions. The individual will essentially feel powerless over their need to steal and then they will be overwhelmed by self-loathing and humiliation. This can also lead to an ample amount of confusion and often suffers will question how something so wrong can make them feel so happy. These complications are generally what lead sufferers to experience other illnesses such as self-mutilation and eating disorders.
Effects of this Mental Disorder
Kleptomania is one of the few mental disorders that are generally overlooked by the mental health community; therefore there isn’t an ample amount of research to determine where this disorder comes from. There are some groups of scientists that believe it is a component of being addicted to drugs or alcohol, whereas others believe that it is subsequent of other control disorders such as bulimia or obsessive-compulsive disorder. With that being said, the few patients who have been diagnosed exhibited signs of other psychiatric disorders as well.
The effects of kleptomania are another aspect of the disorder that should be taken into consideration when an individual is determining whether to seek the assistance of a psychiatric professional or not. The amount of emotional stress that is not only experienced by the sufferer but also by their friends and family members is the most important factor to consider. As previously mentioned, kleptomaniacs and those close to them both experience the guilt and shame associated with the consistent need to steal objects when faced by stressful situations. When seeking treatment, it is important to note that kleptomania is not a curable disorder, though it can be easily managed with the help of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.
The majority of episodes of kleptomania will occur at random times throughout the day and at random locations. Individuals will generally steal from public venues such as supermarkets or department stores. There are also instances where they will steal from friends and family members. The majority of families who deal with kleptomaniacs rarely realize that any of their personal belongings have been stolen due to the fact that sufferers will generally steal items that are of little to no value. This can also be quite detrimental in determining whether your loved ones are dealing with this mental disorder or not. With that being said, with the help of a psychiatric professional these consistent urges will become less powerful and the sufferer will eventually learn how to resist the need to steal objects or belongings.