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S. D. Rihana*, T. Sandeep, Ch. Sharmi Prakash, G. Naveen, B. Bala Naganna


Kleptomania is an enigmatic pathological condition in which crime (theft) forms a part of its diagnostic criteria. Not surprisingly, it is commonly used by the defence counsel for mitigation of theft and related offenses, especially for repeat theft offenders. Kleptomania is described in both the medical and legal literature for centuries, dating back to the early 19th century when the Swiss physician Mathey who worked with the “insane” wrote of “an uncommon madness characterized by the aptitude to steal without motive and without necessity. This article reviews the literature for what is known about the clinical characteristics, family history, neurobiology, and treatment options for a person(s) with kleptomania. Like other impulse control disorders, kleptomania is characterized by an anxiety-driven to perform an act that is pleasurable at the moment but causes identifiable distress and dysfunction. Careful attention should be given to distinguishing kleptomania from an antisocial personality disorder. Unlike the later disorder, kleptomania is identified by the presence of guilt and remorse and the lack of theft motives such as monetary gain, personal use, stealing to impress someone, or stealing to support a drug habit. Here, we describe the demographic and clinical characteristics of 40 subjects meeting DSM-IV criteria for kleptomania. We conclude with advice for treatment options derived from the scant literature available.

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