, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 185-195

Kleptomania

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Abstract

Kleptomania — the inability to resist the impulse to steal objects, not for personal use or monetary gain — is currently classified in psychiatric nomenclature as an impulse control disorder. However, some of the principle features of the disorder, which include repetitive intrusion thoughts, inability to resist the compulsion to perform the thievery and the relief of tension following the act, suggest that kleptomania may constitute an obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder.

Kleptomania is commonly under-diagnosed and is often accompanied by other psychiatric conditions, most notably affective, anxiety and eating disorders, and alcohol and substance abuse. Individuals with the disorder are usually referred for treatment due to the comorbid psychiatric complaints rather than kleptomanic behaviour per se.

Over the past century there has been a shift from psychotherapeutic to psychopharmacological interventions for kleptomania. Pharmacological management using selective serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants, mood stabilisers and opioid receptor antagonists, as adjuvants to cognitive-behavioural therapy, has produced promising results.