Kleptomania Isn’t About Stealing for Fun
When you imagine why somebody steals, you might think about the rush of adrenaline they feel after the theft. There is no such adrenaline associated with somebody who has kleptomania. A person with this disorder isn’t stealing because they enjoy it, they are stealing because they cannot control themselves.
Stealing isn’t enjoyable.
A person with kleptomania takes things they don’t need because their brain tells them they have to do it. Somebody with this disorder has extreme anxiety. Their impulse control is low, and as a result, they find themselves lifting things. People associate those who steal as thrill-seekers. We might believe that somebody who engages in snatching things is doing it for excitement. However, this could not be further from the truth when it comes to an individual with kleptomania. They’re not enjoying themselves when they steal.
Kleptomania is a compulsion
When somebody with kleptomania steals, it’s because they cannot control themselves; they want desperately to stop, but it feels like they can’t. The person is fighting against their brain that is telling them that they have to steal and the individual feels severely uncomfortable until they engage in the behavior. Kleptomania is a compulsion, and sometimes, an obsession. The person can’t stop stealing, and they need serious intervention to prevent. It’s likely that they’re embarrassed by their compulsion and they don’t want to reveal that they’re struggling with it to their friends and family.
Stealing is wrong
We know stealing isn’t right and it’s against the law. Someone with kleptomania knows this too. They’re aware that what they’re doing is wrong, and they can’t seem to stop themselves. It’s hurting not only the person in question but their loved ones. So what do you do to help somebody who is struggling with kleptomania?
Don’t shame them
Imagine how ashamed of their behavior your friend with kleptomania is. They may not want to face the fact that they’re stealing because they can’t control their brain. The fact that they’ve admitted this behavior to you is the first step to getting help; don’t stop them with shame. They likely already feel humiliation for what they’re dealing with, and it’s important to remember to focus on providing them with hope and support. What they’re doing isn’t their fault. They’re not stealing because they think it’s a good thing to do, they’re doing it because their brain is lying to them and telling them that this is a necessary behavior. Tell them you understand they are suffering and you feel honored they confided in you. Think about how much shame they feel because of their behavior. They trust you enough to tell you that they’re dealing with this problem. Reward them for taking that first step. Next, they need referrals to the therapist and psychiatrist. As a friend, you can help them get those resources.
Getting help for a friend with kleptomania
Getting help for kleptomania is possible. It’s not a lifelong sentence of misery. It’s a behavior that needs to be cured, and a mental health professional can help your friend get well. Helping anybody with a mental illness find the appropriate treatment can be painful. For somebody who has kleptomania, a common issue that will hold them back is their fear to talk about their compulsions. They’re afraid to get in trouble. Remind your friend that they’re going to be talking about their impulse issues and getting the help they need in therapy. If they continue on the path they’re on now, there will be severe legal consequences. They don’t want to get into trouble with the law, and they deserve to lead a happy life. The first step to that is getting therapy, whether that’s online or in their local area. Encourage your friend to get help for kleptomania. Tell them that you love them, believe in them, and know that they can get better.