Kleptomania (klep-toe-MAY-nee-uh) is the recurrent inability to resist urges to steal items that you generally don’t really need and that usually have little value. Kleptomania is a rare but serious mental health disorder that can cause much emotional pain to you and your loved ones if not treated.
Kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder — a disorder that’s characterized by problems with emotional or behavioral self-control. If you have an impulse control disorder, you have difficulty resisting the temptation or drive to perform an act that’s excessive or harmful to you or someone else.
Many people with kleptomania live lives of secret shame because they’re afraid to seek mental health treatment. Although there’s no cure for kleptomania, treatment with medication or talk therapy (psychotherapy) may help to end the cycle of compulsive stealing.
Kleptomania symptoms may include:
• Inability to resist powerful urges to steal items that you don’t need
• Feeling increased tension, anxiety or arousal leading up to the theft
• Feeling pleasure, relief or gratification while stealing
• Feeling terrible guilt, remorse, self-loathing, shame or fear of arrest after the theft
• Return of the urges and a repetition of the kleptomania cycle
Kleptomania is considered uncommon. However, some people with kleptomania may never seek treatment, or they’re simply jailed after repeated thefts, so some cases of kleptomania may never be diagnosed. Kleptomania often begins during the teen years or in young adulthood, but can start in adulthood or later. About two-thirds of people with known kleptomania are women.« Back to Glossary Index