Kleptomania: Compulsive Theft

(taking it even when it is not needed)

An irresistible occasion

The individual experiences a rising subjective sense of tension before the theft and feels pleasure, gratification, or relief when committing the theft. The objects are stolen despite the fact that they are typically of little value to the individual, who could have afforded to pay for them and often gives them away or discards them.

Occasionally the individual may hoard the stolen objects or surreptitiously return them. Although individuals with this disorder will generally avoid stealing when immediate arrest is probable (e.g., in full view of a police officer), they usually don't pre-plan the thefts or fully take into account the chances of apprehension. The stealing is done without assistance from, or collaboration with, others. Kleptomania is a rare condition that appears to occur in fewer than 5% of identified shoplifters. It also appears to be much more common in females.

A kleptomaniac adds another stolen shoe to her collection.

Additional definitions:

Impulsive stealing, the motive not being in the intrinsic value of the article to the individual. In almost all cases, the individual has enough money to pay for the stolen goods. The stealing is done without prior planning and without the assistance of others. There is increased tension before the theft and a sense of gratification while committing the act.

Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 18th edition.

An irresistible compulsion to steal, motivated by a neurotic impulse rather than some material need. No specific cause is known. The condition is considered generally as a result of a special underlying emotional disturbance rather than as a form of neurosis in itself. Legally kleptomania is not classified as insanity, and individuals are held responsible except when a complete lack of control over their actions can be definitely established.

A legal definition: "kleptomania. In medical jurisprudence, a species (or symptom) of mania, consisting of an irresistible propensity to steal."

Black's Law Dictionary

As produced in other languages: Dutch, kleptomanie; French, cleptomanie; German, Kleptomanie, Stehltrieb; Italian, cleptomania; Portuguese, cleptomania; Spanish, cleptomania; Swedish, kleptomani.

The bibliokleptomania page is available. A true story about a cleptomaniac or art thief.

A return to the biblio unit of words. The biblio unit of words about a case of bibliokleptomania.

A return to the biblio unit of words. The clepto-, klepto- unit of words.