Skip to Main Content

Kleptomania: About


Link to The Urge: Our History of Addiction by Carl Erik Fisher in the catalog
Link to Other People's Things: a novel by Kerry Anne King in the catalog
Link to The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession by Michael Finkel in the catalog
Link to Community Klepto by Kelly I. Hitchcock in the catalog
Link to Pretty Things: a novel by Janelle Brown in the catalog
Link to Compulsive Cravings: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Kleptomania by Desmond Gahan in the catalog
Link to The case of the shoplifter's shoe by Erle Stanley Gardner in the catalog


What is a Kleptomaniac?

Kleptomania is a rare mental health disorder in which people are unable to resist the urge to steal things. They may shoplift things they have no use for, do not need, or could afford to buy. When a person has kleptomania, the temptation to steal can be so strong that it is difficult to resist. Kleptomaniacs often feel an intense thrill from stealing and may experience feelings of guilt or humiliation after committing theft. Doctors do not know the specific cause of kleptomania but believe it is related to biochemical and neurological abnormalities in the brain. Kleptomania can lead to serious legal consequences and psychological and emotional distress. Therefore, anyone exhibiting signs of kleptomania must seek health from a qualified medical professional.

If someone is living with kleptomania, they have an overwhelming compulsion to steal things, even if they have no use or need for the items. Unlike criminal theft, people with kleptomania often do not need or value the items they steal and may discard or even return the goods. Although an individual may find the action of stealing thrilling at the time, they are frequently overwhelmed with feelings of shame and guilt. As a result, they may go to great lengths to hide their disorder from friends and family.

Kleptomania is an officially recognized mental health disorder. However, it is rare and occurs in just 0.3%–0.6% of the population. Kleptomania is a type of impulse control disorder. People with these conditions are unable to resist impulses, temptations, or desires to perform an act that may be harmful to other people. Other impulse control disorders include: oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), intermittent explosive disorder (IED), conduct disorder (CD), and pyromania.

Impulse control disorders frequently affect males more often than females. However, kleptomania occurs three times more often in females. People living with kleptomania may also have other mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or substance use disorder. Continue reading from Medical News Today

Link to Art Heists that Made History resource guide series