Kleptomania - Causes, symptoms and treatment. MF.
Jun 15, 2018
Kleptomania is a disorder that is expressed by the inability to suppress the desire to steal. Stolen items, as a rule, are not of great value. The desire itself manifests itself as a compulsive( unexplained, spontaneous) impulse that can not be taken under control. A person suffering from kleptomania is forced to steal, although he knows about the criminal punishment. Kleptomania is considered a mental disorder, but at the same time, the actions of the kleptomaniac are antisocial. Such a person steals, then repents of his deeds, even throws out these items. After a while, the appropriation of another's property is repeated again.
All people, women, men, children, adolescents, adults, rich and poor are being stolen, but studies show that kleptomania usually draws young people under the age of thirty. It is believed that this disease occurs in society at 0.6%.
Basically, these are people who previously suffered from other mental disorders. An important role is played by hereditary predisposition. Even the development of kleptomania can be affected by eating disorders or the sexual sphere.
Some experts argue that the passion for theft is similar to drug addiction or addiction to gambling, and sometimes goes hand in hand with these diseases.
Stressful situations, failures in life contribute to the development of the disease. The theft of the patient, most often, is treated as a reward for failure or revenge, but can be the result of delusions or hallucinations, in the presence of another mental illness( schizophrenia).
During the theft, in connection with the excitement, the kleptomaniac in the blood rises adrenaline and the danger becomes very tempting. Then, if the theft was successfully completed, there is a feeling of bliss and relaxation, still later - remorse and guilt. But despite the realization of crime and unpleasant feelings, for the kleptomaniac the emotions, received sensations from theft are more significant and pleasant. A sense of remorse does not cause repugnance to theft and theft is pushed even more frequently. Promotes this, as well, a sense of impunity.
Kleptomania, more often than not, is understood as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Kleptomania correlates( goes side by side, looks like) with disorders such as depression, eating disorders( bulimia is a coincidence of 65%), social phobias, anxiety disorders. There is a similarity with drug addiction in that it is impossible to resist attraction.
Mental illness was first recognized in the 1960s in the US( during a lawsuit in California against Douglas Jones, he won the case and proved his illness).Now people who suffer from kleptomania are protected by law. The theft committed by a kleptoman as a result of an irresistible, painful attraction is not called a crime and refers to the disorder of mental activity. Of course, this is not enough to avoid responsibility for theft( only 5% of shoplifts are committed by people with kleptomania).In case of suspicion of kleptomania, a psychiatric examination is appointed, which will determine the presence of the disease in the sub-expert. If kleptomania is a diagnosis, the patient is involuntarily undergoing treatment, since the presence of his disease has led to a number of negative consequences.
Causes of kleptomania
The exact cause of the development of the disease is not known. There are several theories that suggest that changes occur in the structures of the brain. Kleptomania can be associated with the function of a neurotransmitter( a transmitter of the nerve impulse) of serotonin. It helps to regulate mood and emotions. A low level of serotonin is a general pattern in people prone to uncontrolled behavior. During the theft, dopamine( another neurotransmitter) is released. Dopamine gives a pleasant sensation, addiction develops, and patients look for the occurrence of this feeling again.
Other studies have shown that kleptomania may appear after an accident involving head trauma.
There is still a need for more in-depth research in this area to better understand and eliminate possible causes of kleptomania.
Symptoms of kleptomania
Symptoms of kleptomania include:
- A strong uncontrolled rush to steal items.
- A sense of tension that is satisfied with theft.
- Feeling of guilt or shame for theft, self-incriminating thoughts.
- Episodes arise spontaneously, without planning. Away, in public places.
- Sometimes stolen items are discarded as unnecessary or returned to the site, since they do not have value.
Consequences of kleptomania
Everyone knows from childhood that stealing is wrong. Patients with kleptomania feel powerless and can not stop. The psyche is destroyed by feelings of guilt, shame, humiliation and self-hatred. The patient leads an immoral life and is constantly in confusion, stealing or not.
Without treatment, kleptomania can lead to serious legal, financial and emotional problems.
Complications of kleptomania
- Deprivation of liberty
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Eating disorders
- Gaming addiction
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior
- Social isolation
Treatment for kleptomania
Very fewpatients with kleptomania seek help themselves. As a rule, addicts are identified when they become caught for theft. Many people with this disease live in secret shame, and are afraid to seek qualified help.
Kleptomania is difficult to overcome on its own. Treatment of the disease usually includes drugs and psychotherapy. There are no standards for treating this disorder, scientists are still trying to understand what helps better. You can try several treatments for kleptomania to find what works in your situation.
Before starting treatment, you need to evaluate your physical and psychological state. Physical examination will help to determine the presence of changes and damage to the brain or metabolic disorders. Laboratory methods, MRI, CT, biochemical blood test, blood test for sugar content, will help in clarifying the diagnosis. During the psychological examination, special psychological questionnaires are filled in, the results of which are used to make an accurate diagnosis.
Further, guided by ICD-10( International Classification of Diseases, 10 revision) for mental disorders. This part of the manual was created by the European Psychiatric Association and is used by specialists in the field of psychiatry for the diagnosis of mental illness, as well as by insurance companies when paying for treatment.
There is no specific type of medicine that can cure kleptomania. Only psychotherapy and taking drugs that increase serotonin levels can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of the disease. Treatment is always complex and individually selected, strictly according to the doctor's instructions. It is difficult for the treatment process to have insufficient experience in using psychiatric drugs, since it is difficult to track the overall positive trend in single patients. Those who get ill who go to the reception are not so numerous as to make large-scale studies. Nevertheless, doctors managed to allocate medicines with greater efficiency. Which drug is best for the patient depends on the overall situation.
Pharmacotherapy of kleptomania, we will consider preparations:
Antidepressants. Antidepressants are large in number, but selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors( SSRIs) have shown themselves best. Widely used in the treatment of fluoxetine( Prozac) and paroxetine( Paxil).
Normotimiki. These drugs are aimed at reducing the excitation in the brain. Reduces the desire to steal. In another field of medicine, they are used to treat epilepsy.
Examples: Topiramate( Topamax) and valproic acid( Depakene, Stavzor), carbamazepine( Melepsin, Tegretol).
Mood stabilizers. Designed for mood alignment, changes become uniform, this makes it possible to control the occurrence of desires to steal. The stabilizer is called lithium( Lithobid).
Means for treatment of dependence on surfactants( opioids, alcohol). Naltrexone( Revia, Vivitrol), known as a synthetic opioid antagonist, blocks a part of the brain that feels pleasure. This can reduce the urges associated with theft and the pleasure derived from it.
You may need to try several different medications or a combination of drugs to see what works best and with fewer side effects. A positive result may have to wait a few weeks. Talk with your doctor if that's what's bothering you. Under the supervision of a doctor, you can change the drug or change the dosage. Many side effects, eventually, with time, will go away.
Preparing to meet with a psychiatrist.
- Write down any symptoms you feel and their duration. This will help to know which events affect the desire to steal.
- Collect anamnesis of life, including traumatic events of the past, which were the main ones in the formation of stressful situations.
- Take your medical card. Also, identify the drugs and nutritional supplements you are taking now.
- Come to reception with a family member or friend, if possible. Those who know you for a long time will help to remember in more detail the details of psycho-traumatic events.
Think questions to the psychiatrist and ask them at the beginning of the session to understand more about their illness. For example:
- Why can not I stop stealing?
- Which treatments are more effective?
- What procedures can help me?
- How soon will I stop stealing?
- How often do I need therapy sessions and for how long?
- Family therapy is useful in my case?
- Are there drugs that can help me effectively?
- What are the possible side effects of these drugs?
- Are there any brochures or other printed materials that I can take with me? What sites do you recommend to visit?
The psychiatrist will probably also ask a number of questions to get to know you better. Presumptive questions of a psychiatrist:
- At what age do you first experience an irresistible desire to steal?
- How often do you feel like stealing?
- Have you ever been caught and arrested for theft?
- How would you describe your feelings before, during and after theft?
- What are the highlights of the theft?
- Where do you steal?
- What do you do with the things you stole?
- How does your desire to steal affect your life?
- Are there other mental disorders, such as depression, drug addiction or obsessive-compulsive disorder? If so, what treatments and medications did you use?
- Do you drink alcohol or drugs? How often?
Behavioral psychotherapy is the best choice for the treatment of kleptomania. In general, it will help the patient to separate unhealthy, negative beliefs and behavior, and replace them with healthy and positive ones.
Cognitive therapy can include methods that will help overcome the need to steal. One of these methods is when the psychologist with the patient loses the theft situation, and then, more thoroughly, the consequences of this action and punishment. Thus, at a subconscious level, a connection is formed - the theft is associated with a negative moment, and not with a pleasant one.
disgust therapy is another popular method. A situation is being modeled when the patient wants to steal something, at which point the breath is held, until the moment of discomfort and lack of oxygen. The method is moderately painful, but if you train systematically, if you want to steal, it will arise, just an unpleasant feeling.
Group psychotherapy - even if you can not find a group specifically for kleptomaniacs, good results are given to a group of anonymous alcoholics or groups dedicated to other addictions.
Aswagandha( aswagandha) - adaptogenic( adaptive) herb, stabilizes the function of adrenaline in the body, stimulates the potency.
Valerian( root of valerian) - with a direct episode of mania.
St. John's wort's perforated herb - works like an antidepressant. It is used on the basis of American studies in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorders. St. John's Wort appeared to be effective in 60% of patients from the control group, and according to some data it surpassed some antidepressants.
Rauwolfia Serpentina( Serpentina) is the precursor of reserpine, one of the most powerful herbal sedatives.
Camellia Sinensis anle - a tea plant, contains amino acid L-theanine
Properties: a neuroprotective agent( defender of the nervous system), improves mood and relaxes, a natural antioxidant. Improves the conductivity of the myelin sheath of the nerve.
Corydalis Yan Hu Suo is a herb that has a powerful analgesic effect, as well as unlocks dopamine receptors, reduces physical and mental pain, hence it can be used to eliminate severe anxiety, has an anti-anxiety effect, normalize sleep functions.
California poppy is an opioid similar to a non-dodazepine( tranquilizer, sedative narcotic.)
Tablets that are combinations of such plants are also good:
Valerianae radix, Lupuli strobulus, Melissae folium, Hyperici herba, Aconitum napellus, Belladonna, Abrus precatorius, Chelidonium majus, Viburnum opulus, gentianae herba.
Ready-made combination herbal preparations in the pharmacy chain:
lunapret( manufacturer-bionorica), lem, neopersen forte, relana forte, seledin( alarsin), l-theanine, 5-htp, Yan hu Suo, serpina( himalaya), California poppy( organics), sedatif pf( boiron), persen, afobazol, pomogusha, leptosedin, pession flover( nutricare), Mental Comfort Colloidial( Ad medicine).
Appeal to "folk psychotherapists" sorcerers, fortunetellers, psychics.
Despite the fact that medicine denies paranormal abilities and many people consider these people charlatans, real cases prove that this method of treatment is quite effective in applying to mania and addictions. This is because dependent patients are very impressionable, and "decorated shamanism" in this case can have a strong impact on the patient. A certain entourage of such places and sessions are like a theatrical performance: awesome symbols, maps, talismans and so on. Patients in fear are ready to believe anything, the main thing is to find the right direction and a person who is ready to play this role correctly. The effect of such suggestion is very large, it can be compared with coding from alcohol dependence( is popular in the treatment of alcoholism, abstinence for 2-3 years).It is possible, as an alternative, to use this strange way of fighting the disease, it is possible to achieve progress in treatment.
Support for close
If your loved one is being treated for kleptomania, make sure you understand the details of his treatment plan and actively support his success. It is useful to share participation in several therapeutic sessions, it may be that you know important facts related to the disease. Take the opportunity and talk in private with the therapist.
Recovering a patient with kleptomania is a long-term process, as a rule, relatives and relatives become victims, who are also involuntarily involved in suffering and kleptomaniac disease. Use relaxation techniques, meditation or just spend time with friends.
Please do not blame the patient, kleptomania is a mental illness, not a weakness of willpower and a lack of character. It is very important to emphasize the following points in the conversation:
- You are worried that you care about your close person, about his health and well-being.
- You are afraid of the risk of theft and uncontrolled consciousness disorder, arrests, loss of work, or rupture of relationships.
- You must understand that the desire to steal may be too strong to resist, the patient can not act as you advise.
- To help and evaluate the actions of the kleptomaniac without addiction, without condemning.
- If you need help in preparing a conversation with a loved one, consult a therapist. He will tell you how to correctly behave, so that the patient does not take a defensive position, is not embittered and reveals his experiences.
Follow-up prevention of relapses:
It's not uncommon, a relapse of kleptomania!
- Stick to your treatment plan.
- If you feel that the urge to steal is increasing, take all your medications and visit a scheduled psychotherapy session.
- Remember that treatment is a laborious process, there can be occasional failures.
- Learn more about kleptomania, and can better understand the risk factors, treatment and mechanism of occurrence.
- Find out what drives you. Highlight situations, thoughts and feelings that can cause the desire to steal, and you can manage them.
- Try to avoid other problems that violate mental health.
- Dependence on alcohol, drugs, depression, anxiety and stress can affect the occurrence of kleptomania, lead to cyclical unhealthy behavior.
- Find retail outlets where you will be allowed to steal. For example - to check the security system of the store. Turn your illness into a hobby.
- Learn the techniques of relaxation and stress management. Methods such as meditation, yoga or tai chi.
- Focus on the goal.
- In treatment, stick to the motivation - completely get rid of the disease.
Prevention of kleptomania
According to statistics, about 10% of people at least once stole something. In half the cases, it was an accidental petty theft, committed out of curiosity. How to warn yourself against kleptomania, how to recognize the disease in time and not get sick, because until now the cause of kleptomania is not clear,
no one can tell exactly how to prevent the appearance of this mysterious disease.
The only way - timely treatment, as soon as uncontrolled theft began, do not allow the possibility to grow into a chronic condition that is difficult to overcome.
Features of kleptomania in children and adolescents
Cases of kleptomania among adolescents occur much more often than in children. Usually the disease develops at an early age. The young kleptomaniac is mentally unbalanced and does not have true criminal thoughts. Girls are more likely to fall ill than boys.
Presumptive causes and mechanism of the disease, as in adults. It is associated with biochemical disorders in the brain, other mental illnesses, emotional shocks.
Kleptomania of children is very concerned for parents. Knowing the symptoms of this disease will help you prevent its development and not experience a strong emotional shock if your child is a thief.
Features of symptoms of kleptomania in children and adolescents:
- There must be something in the child's life that strongly affects his emotions.
- During the theft, children are tense and at the same time happy.
- Feel euphoric after they are stolen.
- The kleptomaniac does not need an accomplice. Therefore, young kleptomaniacs never commit comrades to their actions.
- Sometimes theft is a way of expressing anger and anger.
- There are no mythological, fantastic explanations about the presence of stolen objects, children really realize that this is theft.
- The desire to steal grows from an inferiority complex.
- Often a child feels deprived or unnecessary, and tries to keep as many things as possible at his disposal.
Sometimes stealing is a way to get an item that children can not get from their parents and the case of a one-time theft. Such a child is NOT considered a patient with kleptomania.
Prevention of kleptomania in children
Attend parent meetings, meet students in class. It is very important to warn the hierarchy in the school, inform the teacher or the class teacher about it.
When a child grows up, his actions become more conscious, the restriction to the adolescent should be strengthened.
Parents should be informed about the consequences of the theft, responsibility for this.
Take care of the correct choice of the school, instruct the child about avoiding fights and conflict situations, and at the same time, was not sassy and cowardly.
Check your child for the use of surfactants( psychoactive substances) alcohol, tobacco, opium, amphetamine.
Pay attention to the microenvironment( the nearest environment, the environment) in which your child resides. Limit communication with asocial children( father and mother alcoholics, in prisons)
Do not be indifferent to a bad act, but do not use forceful methods of education, do not be aggressive towards the child. This will only exacerbate the situation, the child will begin to hide his experiences and step back from you.
Punish a child for theft in other ways( material, restriction in using the computer, watching TV).
If the theft continues, you need to contact a child psychiatrist or psychologist.
Parents should understand that true kleptomania is a mental disorder, not a criminal offense.
Counseling from a psychologist is the first step towards the treatment of such children. Kleptomania degrades the dignity of the child, makes it in the eyes of other children a criminal and the child becomes an outcast in a child society. Parents should understand that children require due attention.
Communicate them to physical activity. This will distract him from committing bad deeds.
The younger the child, the easier it is to solve the problem.
Do not be offended by teachers if your child's school was searched. This may be a little embarrassing for you, however, it will help to respond in a timely manner to the problem and begin treatment.
Treatment of a child with kleptomania
Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is recommended in the treatment of a child with kleptomania.
Sometimes antidepressants are prescribed. Prozac and Seroxat showed themselves well.
It is possible to use drugs Phenibut, Noofen, they improve cerebral circulation, thereby improve brain activity, soothe, improve sleep.
Doctor psychiatrist Kondratenko NA