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Awakening The Conscience Of Kleptomania

November 1, 2019 • Kelly Montgomery


The society considers stealing as a morally wrong practice, as this brings a negative connotation on the ethical standards of every individual. Consequently, it may also lead to criminal charges. More often than not, people tend to judge someone of becoming unethical because of stealing. It has been a societal practice to consider theft when something has been taken away. The society has set the parameters of morally accepted behaviors. However, no matter how unethical it is to steal, there is still something more profound than the mere idea of stealing, and this applies in the case of people especially the teens who are dealing with kleptomania.

People with kleptomania take things as a form of their social and physical gratification regardless of how expensive or inexpensive the item is. In addition, it has been a usual reaction for people to judge someone as a criminal when they found out that something has been taken away from them.

“Like atypical shoplifters, kleptomaniacs also steal and shoplift for no apparent reason (and do so impulsively),” writes Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D.

However, this should not be in the case of kleptomania, as this requires understanding more than criticism and accusation. Instead of humiliating a person with kleptomania, it is best to help recognize the problem, seek out psychological treatment, and work on focusing on other aspects of life.  Though it might be difficult to let a person open up, helping a kleptomaniac will even make a big difference in the management of the condition. The following are ways that can help a kleptomaniac.


Get to Know the Problem. It is hard to judge someone, especially when ethical and moral issues are a concern. Thus, knowing the defining characteristics of kleptomania, such as an intense drive to steal something not actually needed but still doing it will give a satisfying feeling, can be helpful to identify the existence of the problem. Kleptomaniacs take something even if they don’t need it. It can happen to everyone, even to those who are well off.

“People steal for many reasons, ranging from poverty to criminality.  Recent research on dopamine has shown that people can become addicted to activities such as stealing, sex, eating, and gambling in the same way they can become addicted to alcohol and drugs.  For this person, stealing is not a rational decision, executed with planning, but instead is a faulty way of coping with unwanted thoughts of feelings,” writes Samantha Smithstein Psy.D.



The Right Approach. Once you have gathered and established your facts, it is now time to confront the person with kleptomania. Consider the fact that this is a mental condition. Making the right approach by staying calm, showing support and understanding will help make the person realize his situation without any remorse. You have to make him feel that you are concerned about his condition instead of being against him. This will establish his trust so he would open up about his status. “Psychotherapy is necessary in order to get the support, understanding, and help you need to work through the issues and problems that self-destructive impulses create in one’s life,” says Elizabeth Corsale, MA, MFT.

Present the Cost of the Action. Once you have established yourself and gained the person’s trust, it will now be easy for you to discuss the consequences of his actions and possible threats that may arise if he continues stealing things.


Do not Humiliate. Often, individuals with this type of condition feel ashamed and guilty of the wrongdoing. Thus, humiliating or confronting someone publicly will not be helpful at all in convincing him to undergo treatment.  It is essential that the person feels your sincerity in helping him without condemnation.


Go for Diversion. Engaging the individual to be active in physical and social situations will enable him to divert his attention and finds satisfaction in a healthier activity such as exercise.



Kleptomania might be a shameful social condition, but making the right approach towards helping someone manage his situation will lead to a favorable outcome towards the person. If the condition is rather complex and difficult to handle, it is recommended to seek professional mental help where the person can be treated with psychotherapy and possible medications to control compulsions and anxiety.


Categories: Community Issues