In the United States, thousands of women each year are charged with criminal activity associated with theft. For many of these women, especially those around age 35, the stress, anxiety and depression of daily life struggles, often lead to compulsive and impulsive behaviors. One such behavior, kleptomania, leaves many women facing criminal charges resulting from a criminal act for which there was no real desire or basis for the item stolen. As parents, raising female children suffering with kleptomania, it is crucial to understand the dynamic of the condition, the stimulation response physiologically and the treatment options so as to improve the outcome of the psychological disorder as the female child progresses into adulthood.
Kleptomania is described as the psychological disorder characterized by an individual’s impulsivity to routinely steal or take items without asking, and on no logical basis. For the child suffering from kleptomania, the symptoms are often difficult to treat as kleptomania is impulsive and not a well thought out strategic plan of thievery. In fact, upon further examination, it is found the child kleptomaniac rarely provides any basis for the item stolen as the item holds no significant value to the child personally or monetarily.
In psychological, children struggling to overcome kleptomania are often treated using medications commonly used in the treatment of depression. As is the case for most child kleptomaniacs, depression is a common co morbid factor. In fact, child kleptomaniacs frequently comment on the pleasure derived from stealing an object but can not commonly identify what was stolen. In further research, it is believed there is a biological, and psychological, component to kleptomania; one in which physiological changes occur within the body at the time of theft, promoting stimulation of the pleasure reward pathway to the brain.
For parents, the struggle to raise a child suffering from kleptomania lies in the inability to control the activities of the child with any degree of certainty. Since the items generally stole by a kleptomaniac are of no significant value, parents will find they are unable to simply remove the child from temptation as temptation to steal, for the kleptomaniac child, may involve anything, anywhere, anytime. For these parents, working with a team of healthcare professionals, including child psychiatrists, social workers and pediatricians, may aid in remedying the underlying conditions which often attribute to a life pattern of kleptomania.
Treating kleptomania in children involves the use of a variety of techniques from the use of anti-depressants, to treat the co morbid depression and mood disorders, to the use of cognitive behavioral therapy to aide the child in addressing behavioral responses and control the desires for stimulation of the reward pathway to the brain. It is through this comprehensive approach that female child kleptomaniacs are provided the greatest opportunity for treatment outcomes.
For more information regarding child psychological disorders, including kleptomania, visit www.mayoclinic.com.