Cleptomania: recognizing and treating it
Tricks, jewels, food ... Kleptomania, considered a real disease, is a neurotic symptom, a pathological need to steal, an unstoppable and unmotivated impulse to steal even valueless objects and not necessarily linked to a need real.
One of the main criteria for recognizing kleptomania is precisely the uselessness of stolen objects: the thief often appropriates valueless things, which he will not need and which he will then accumulate or throw away. For him, theft is a need whose satisfaction it does not reside in the object, but in the desire itself.
The kleptomania: the symptoms
Symptoms of kleptomania are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), published in America.
Specifically, to be defined kleptomania, the disorder must have the following characteristics:
- Irrepressible and recurring desire to steal;
- Strong tension just before carrying out the theft;
- Pleasure or relief when the kleptomaniac takes action;
- The theft is not motivated by anger or a desire for revenge and is not accompanied by delusional ideas, manic episodes or hallucinations;
- Items are not stolen for personal use or for their commercial value.
The kleptomania: the causes
The origins of kleptomania are still poorly understood. Many psychologists consider it a substitute for sexuality: the pursuit of pleasure through a "secret and forbidden activity would serve to compensate for an absent or unsatisfactory sex life.
Another school of thought, on the other hand, goes back to an unconscious sense of guilt that could activate depressive states and anxiety; according to this explanation of the phenomenon, the causes of the gesture are to be found above all in the desire for punishment, which would therefore become a compensatory uplifting act.
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The kleptomania: the treatments
To recover from kleptomania, one must first admit to suffering from it. The majority of people affected by this disorder, in fact, never talk about it and do not consult a psychologist to solve the problem. When the person is aware of having a problem and asks for help, usually behavioral psychotherapy or the most recent technique of group psychoanalytic psychodrama is enough, where six / eight patients are followed by a specialist.
The goal is to stabilize the patient's mood to encourage the cessation of these uncontrollable impulses. Where the psychological approach is not enough, additional pharmacological help can also be used and usually the substances administered are fluoxetine (Prozac) and naltrexone (Revia).