I do not have Kleptomania. I know people who do, but most of my information has been gathered because I’m a Psychology (and English) major in University. I recognize that every person will experience this slightly differently, and therefore there is no definitive way. This is just a guide.
“DSM-IV defines kleptomania as a recurrent failure to resist impulses to steal objects that are not needed for personal use or for their monetary value. ” - X
What this means at a glance is that Kleptomania is not just shop lifting, but we know that because we put a name to it. While Kleptomaniacs do steal, and often are unable resist the urge to steal, it is not because they want the item. They will often steal things that they do not want or need. It is simply the desire to take it that drives them.
The DSM-IV includes Kleptomania with impulse control disorders not otherwise classified (a term like EDNOS - they simply cannot fit them into the standard groups) with other disorders like trichotillomania, pyromania, and intermittent explosive disorder. However, as far as behaviours go none of these disorders are truly alike. It has been suggested that Kleptomania should be classified alongside sociopathy as it may not be a true medical disorder.
”[…] kleptomania is characterized by an anxiety-driven urge to perform an act that is pleasurable in the moment but causes significant distress and dysfunction.” - X
I don’t think I could have said it better than that paper did, but let me break it down. This isn’t something that is being done because of any motive at all. Kleptomaniacs steal because they have an urge to, and unlike those with Anti-social personality disorder, they feel guilty afterwards.
some of the other main characteristics of the disorder are intrusion feelings, an inability to resist the urge to steal, and a release of pressure following the theft - rephrased from DSM-IV
Stealing for the Kleptomaniac is like self harming for the self injurer who is addicted to it. It released built up pressure, and is very difficult for them to resist.
The diagnostic criteria are as follows:
A Kleptomaniac doesn’t just shoplift. In fact, shop lifting might not even be the most common expression of it. A Kleptomaniac will steal from anywhere. While they probably won’t break into a house, they will often steal from friends and acquaintances in order to satisfy their urge.
The statistics I’m about to reference come from the same article that I’ve referenced above for quotes (and because there is very little literature on the subject). They are not considered to be fact, but are the results from the study and should represent whohas this disorder.
Most (but not all) people with kleptomania are female, and the average age is about 45.6. That said, the disorder tends to appear in the teenage years, sometimes even earlier. A Kleptomaniac generally steals frequently, with an average space between episodes (which may be a stealing binge, or a single theft) of about three months. 85% of those presenting this disorder have a co-morbid disorder, most commonly Major Depressive Disorder. However, co-morbid disorders are likely not related to Kleptomania because no patient expressed stealing because of depression or anxiety exclusively.The feelings of depression and anxiety may be linked to it, however, it is not their sole reason. As I’ve said above, it is simply an urge.
There are medications that are considered effective for treatment, however many traditional treatment methods are not found to be helpful. For example, psychotherapy shows almost no improvement for those with this disorder. The medications that have been shown effective in trials are busprione, escitalopram, fluoxetine (prozac etc), lithium, sertraline (zoloft), topiramate (topomax), valproic acid, etc. The primary use of these are in the treatment of depression and bipolar disorder, however these medications have many other uses such as with anxiety disorders. In theory, they help to balance the brain chemistry which helps to reduce the urges to steal. Medication may not be right for every patient, and not every patient is going to respond to the same medicine(s) the same way.
Hospitalization statistics for Kleptomania - X
- 0.00002% (3) of hospital consultant episodes were for pathological stealing or kleptomania in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
- 32.3 days was the mean length of stay in hospitals for pathological stealing or kleptomania in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
- 65 was the mean age of patients hospitalised for pathological stealing or kleptomania in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
- 0% of hospital consultant episodes for pathological stealing or kleptomania were single day episodes in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
- 0.0002% (97) of hospital bed days were for pathological stealing or kleptomania in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
In short, Kleptomania is not a reason for hospitalization unless it is very severe, and since the disorder progresses and does not begin as severe as it can be, a young person is very unlikely to be hospitalized. A single day of stealing will not get a person hospitalized or even seen in hospital. They may be outsourced to another person. Only a very small percentage of people with this disorder will ever be seen in hospital as it does not make them a risk to themselves or others and requires only outpatient therapy.
So, how do you portray someone with Kleptomania?
These are some common thoughts, feelings, behaviours and traits you can use to maintain accuracy.
People with Kleptomania are real people. Just like anyone with a mental disorder, they have a personality outside of their symptoms. These simply are an addition to that personality. You cannot play just a Kleptomaniac. You have to play a person.
If you have any more questions about this or pretty much anything else, do not hesitate to leave a message in my ask and I will get to you as soon as possible.