There is a higher prevalence of Kleptomania among female patients compared to male patients. Approximately one in every five individuals is affected by this mental disorder. Stealing is universally considered a negative behavior across various religions and belief systems worldwide. Different eras and legal systems have assigned distinct punishments for theft, reflecting the diverse laws of each culture.
Maryam, a resident of Peshawar City, shares her experience involving her sister-in-law’s peculiar behavior. Despite hailing from an educated and financially secure family, her sister-in-law developed a tendency to engage in minor thefts around the house.
Initially, it went unnoticed, but suspicions turned into certainty when her sister-in-law confessed to stealing two salt shakers from the kitchen.
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Maryam and her in-laws were taken aback, questioning why she would steal items she had no shortage of, and why she didn’t simply ask for what she needed. However, her sister-in-law claimed that she derived satisfaction from such actions.
Kleptomania, as explained by medical professionals, is a psychological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to steal.
Assistant Professor Ahmad Faraz, an expert in mental health and psychiatric illnesses, delves into this condition, labeling Sajida’s behavior as kleptomania. This disorder compels individuals to steal due to an intense desire. The overwhelming urge persists until the act is committed, often driven by depression and anxiety.
Faraz explains that kleptomania sufferers are not driven by necessity or monetary gain but are rather compelled by their mental state, seeking relief from their inner turmoil.
According to Dr. Faraz, kleptomania is more prevalent in women than in men, with the average age of affected individuals ranging from 18 to 36 years. Around 50 percent of kleptomania-related thefts occur due to the disorder itself, while the remaining 50 percent stem from financial struggles, peer pressure, or negative influences. Those who experience the desire to steal find themselves anxious until they give in to the compulsion. Successfully completing the act brings them a sense of relief and satisfaction, driven solely by their internal struggle rather than malicious intent.
Managing and Addressing Kleptomania
Psychologist Urshi Arbab elaborates on kleptomania, a mental illness characterized by the urge to steal driven by compulsions.
When it comes to treatment, Arbab suggests individuals affected by psychological-driven theft should resist acting on their urges. If substance abuse is a factor, overcoming addiction or seeking help for withdrawal is crucial. Learning to manage and suppress the urge is important. Treating underlying depression and enhancing self-esteem can contribute to improvement. The involvement of family members is vital in each stage of managing the condition. Timely treatment is recommended over punitive measures.