How to Control the Impulse to Steal

How to Control the Impulse to Steal

To control the impulse to steal you should do a treatment with a psychiatrist, who will identify the problem and use medications that help to prevent theft, such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and medications to control the anxiety.

In addition, it is also necessary to do the cognitive-behavioral therapies to develop methods that help the individual to control and to prevent theft, such as phrases that remind us of the guilt felt after the theft and the danger that is to steal. However, this treatment is time consuming and it is important the support of family to help the patient control their disease.

What is

The impulse to steal, also known as kleptomania or compulsive shoplifting, is a psychiatric illness that leads to theft frequent objects from shops or from friends and family, due to an impulse, uncontrollable to possess something that is not yours.


This disease has no cure and its treatment is done with psychiatric follow-up to control symptoms and prevent the thefts, which take place mainly during periods of stress.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Kleptomania usually appear in late adolescence and early adulthood, and the diagnosis is made by a psychiatrist based mainly in the presence of 4 symptoms:

  1. Inability frequent resist impulses to steal objects that are unnecessary.
  2. Increasing sense of tension before the theft;
  3. Pleasure or relief at the time of the theft;
  4. A sense of guilt, remorse, shame, and depression after the theft.

The symptom number 1 is sensitive to the person with kleptomania of thieves common, because they steal objects without thinking about their value. In most of the cases of this disease, the stolen objects are never used or they may be returned to the true owner.



The kleptomania does not have a definite cause, but it seems to be related to mood disorders, and a history of alcoholism in the family. In addition, these patients also tend to have decrease in the production of the hormone serotonin, which is the hormone of pleasure, and theft increases this hormone in your body, which can cause the addiction that is behind this disease.

What can happen

Kleptomania can lead to complications psychological, such as depression and excessive anxiety, and complications in personal life, because the will to commit theft get in the way of concentration and the healthy relationship in the work environment and with family.

In addition to the emotional difficulties, it is common for these patients to be surprised at the time of the theft and that they have to respond together to the police by his attitude, which can lead to serious consequences such as prison.

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