Overview of Kleptomania and Phenomenological Description of 40 Patients

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Background: Despite its considerable personal toll and its impact on the economy and the legal system, kleptomania is an understudied psychiatric disorder.

Method: We review what is known about the epidemiology, course, and treatment of kleptomania and describe 40 patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for the disorder.

Results: Our data suggest a female preponderance, with an early age at onset and most often a continuous course. No other gender-based differences were seen. The majority of our subjects had not received treatment for kleptomania despite often having sought help for comorbid psychiatric conditions, most commonly major depressive disorder. Our data confirm kleptomania's devastating effects on personal and professional lives and serious legal consequences, reflected in high arrest and incarceration rates. Because patients with kleptomania rarely seek psychiatric help for the disorder, we indicate how other health care providers can screen for it, possibly as part of taking patients' legal and social histories, and suggest treatments.

Conclusion: Awareness of kleptomania, empathy toward those afflicted, and rigorous research into treatment options are needed to mitigate kleptomania's personal and societal costs.

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2004;6(6):244-247

https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.v06n0605