Most thieves steal because of feelings of anger, loss, helplessness, and many become addicted. Therefore, according to statistics, 69 % of arrested thieves will again steal from stores. This type of theft goes beyond the rare condition of kleptomania, impulse control disorder, which affects 6 out of 1,000 Americans, mostly women in their 20s. However, kleptomania remains the only officially recognized diagnosis of theft as a mental health problem.
Inside the mind of a compulsive shoplifter
Experts argue that compulsive thieves are not the beady-eyed lawless characters one might imagine. Unlike sociopaths, they are “almost the opposite”. Many of them are religious and have very strict ethical codes. That is the place for the deep shame and embarrassment to appear. Often at a psychotherapist's appointment, thieves ask the question, “Why am I doing this? I never want to do this, but I feel that I have to. "
According to Pr. Shulman, a lawyer, a psychotherapist and an author of the book “Something for Free: Addiction to Theft and Recovery”, the common thing about obsessive thieves is a keen sense of deprivation. Regardless of whether they have enough money or not. He used to be a shoplifter himself. After counseling nearly 3,000 shoplifters, he found that "the people who steal compulsively feel that something valuable has been taken away”. The question they ask is the following, “How can I return the things that I think were taken from me?” Stealing suggests that shortly a compulsive thief will receive some relief, peace, and sense of completion. They made life fair again, even if just for a few seconds.
Risk factors that can cause compulsive shoplifting
Various factors can contribute to kleptomania. Genetics and biology can explain some of the underlying causes. These include:
· the presence of other mental illnesses including bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, or personality disorders (the connection appears to be strongest with obsessive-compulsive disorder)
· problems with low serotonin levels leading to increased impulsive behavior
· relationship with addictive disorders such as stealing can release the release of dopamine that causes additions
· family history of kleptomania or addiction
· females, since two thirds of people diagnosed with kleptomania are women
· head injury such as concussion
Compulsive shoplifting treatment
Stealing addiction has not been well studied yet. Many people find it difficult to admit that it is addiction. This is a process dependency problem. There is no substance here making the body physically dependent on it. It is just an addictive activity. Those who compulsively steal are ashamed of what they are doing, but cannot stop.
Due to the lack of knowledge about compulsive theft, people suffering from this addiction find it difficult to ask for help. Admitting a problem means humiliation and self-awareness as a criminal. It is important to understand these disorders better and to encourage all those who suffer from them to ask for help. Treatment for shoplifting needs a specific approach; psychotherapy and support groups can be very helpful and, with the right help, an addicted person can continue to lead a normal life. It is worth mentioning that treatment for shoplifters is confidential, there are organizations like Shoplifters Anonymous that provide exclusive shoplifting treatment programs for the affected.