The Hope Project (THP): Understanding Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a rare condition defined as an impulse control disorder that was initially identified by French psychiatrists Esquirol and Marc in the 19th century. Owing to nondisclosure due to shame and embarrassment, patients frequently go undiagnosed, resulting in significant impairment and negative consequences.

This article provides insight into etiology, symptoms, and managing Kleptomania.

What is Kleptomania?

It was recognized as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century that a modest but discrete group of thieves either impulsively or obsessively stole goods that were either of no financial avail or essential and could be easily acquired through legal ways. Matthey coined the term "klopemanie" to characterize this behavior in 1816 after which, it was renamed “kleptomania” which can be broken down to klepto, referring to steal and mania, referring to the frenzy over stealing.

What are the causing factors?

Even though very little is known about the exact causal factors of Kleptomania, the linkages between impulsive disorders like kleptomania and neurotransmitters, which are responsible for chemical balance in the brain, are being explored. The brain's ability to control impulses can be harmed by an imbalance of these chemicals, neurotransmitters. Major stress is thought to be a cause for impulsive conduct.

Kleptomania is often manifested as comorbidity along with other mental health disorders like eating disorders, depression, substance abuse disorders, and anxiety. This implies that there might be a relationship between these illnesses and the onset of kleptomania.

How does it affect people?

Kleptomaniac burglary is believed to be both irrational and impulsive. Theft items are frequently hoarded, abandoned, or given away in addition to being utilized. Individuals with kleptomania are unconcerned with the worth of the goods they have taken. The act of stealing itself is what thrills them so much. The joy of being able to commit a theft in a very public environment without being caught is common. Kleptomania is usually linked to feelings of sorrow and shame over their actions. This can be further masked by embarrassment, and in some cases, such individuals receive help years after the theft occurred since they find it difficult to discuss their problem with their close family.

Despite the fact that stealing is prevalent, genuine kleptomania is uncommon (0.3% to 0.6% of the general population). Kleptomania affects between 4% and 24% of shoplifters, according to estimates. Since this disorder is marked by stealth and deceit, it is impossible to determine the actual number of persons who suffer from it. Females appear to be more prone to kleptomania than males.

Treatment & Management Options

Kleptomania can be a long-term disorder if it is not treated. Drug therapy, psychotherapy, combination therapy, self-help groups, and patient education are all options for treating kleptomania.


Because the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are implicated, medications that target these neurotransmitters are used to treat the condition. Drugs that are commonly used include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), Tricyclic antidepressants, Opioid antagonists, and Mood stabilizers.


The use of CBT is especially prevalent in managing impulsive behavior by recognizing and replacing harmful, negative thoughts and behaviors with healthy, good ones. It entails focusing on impulses and actions, as well as coping methods for impulses and actions.

Relapse is a common occurrence in Kleptomania and to avoid it, individuals should adhere to their treatment plan. They should reach out to their healthcare provider whenever they feel the urge to steal is.


Kleptomania not only affects the individual who has it, but also the individual’s family and society. It is a serious condition that requires early diagnosis and intervention that might be beneficial in preventing a lifelong condition. If we want to reduce the significant personal, judicial, and monetary impacts of kleptomania, more people need to be aware of the condition, have empathy for those who are affected, do extensive research into treatment alternatives and early intervention are essential.


Unwired India is a neurotech-startup that aims at integrating state-of-the-art research and developments in STEM, for catalyzing the transition of Neuroscience to Neurotechnology. We develop avant-garde non-invasive neurostimulation products used to solve some of the world’s most critical global issues and challenges. Our mission is to take cutting-edge brain research directly into the lives and homes of people, thereby fostering a unique culture of sustainable neuroscience and scientific literacy in India.

  • Founded in 2020, we are the pioneers of Nootropics and non-invasive Neurotechnology devices in the country, and offer so much more than high-quality, delicious Brain Nutrition products for daily cognitive support; a full-service health and fitness startup that has become an important part of the local community, here in New Delhi, India.

  • We develop non-GMO, all-natural nootropic (smart-drug) formulations, Himalayan herb blends, and specialized amino-nutraceutical interventions and supplements for enhanced brain function, cognition, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration.


The Hope Project (THP) is a neuro-disorder awareness initiative within the organizational framework of Unwired India. The initiative aims at creating and scaling awareness against the stigma, fear, and apprehensions associated with Neurological disorders.

Aims: To promote and develop awareness across global masses and to emphasize the importance of early detection, in addition to fostering a healthy lifestyle- which is important in the management and treatment of these ailments.


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A friendly reminder: We've done our research, but you should too! Check our sources against your own and always exercise sound judgment. 

Image Credits: by Edgars Kisuro and Ron Lack

About the Author

Ishika Jain

Content Writer for The Hope Project (Delhi, India)

Ishika Jain is a student of Psychology honors from the University of Delhi, armed with hands-on knowledge in research, public health, and health tech. She has worked in the field of global mental health, community research, and intervention, assisting in science communication and research writing. She has a keen interest in Neuropsychology, with a blend of neuroscience, philosophy, and interpersonal contact.

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