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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am generally an honest person but sometimes feel a compulsion

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I am generally an honest person but sometimes feel a compulsion to steal inexpensive items from the supermarket such as cheese or cold cuts. Cost of items would be just a few dollars that I can well afford. I don't know what impels me to do this and was recently caught by a store personnel. I was very ashamed and totally embarrassed. They called the police -- total cost of items was $12.00. I offered to pay for the items but they refused to accept payment and now must appear in court on a charge of petty theft (misdemeanor). Don't know how to deal with this.

Can you help me to understand my behavior and what I can do about it?

Thank you
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

From the sound of it, you may have Kleptomania. Kleptomania occurs when someone steals things that they do not need and that may not have very little value. The motivation appears to be the excitement of stealing and the pleasure felt from getting away with taking something.

Kleptomania is thought of as an impulse control disorder. It is hard to stop even when you want to because the "reward" is a feeling of excitement and pleasure. It can become addicting.

Most people who have Kleptomania feel shame and embarrassment regarding their actions. They may want help but feel too bad about what they are doing to seek therapy. These feelings keep them from seeking help and since they have trouble with controlling the stealing on their own, the cycle of shame and stealing continues.

Although the cause of Kleptomania is not known, it is thought that the pleasure center of the brain is stimulated when the person steals. This causes an addiction type behavior response.

Therapy and medication can help treat Kleptomania. But before you decide to see a therapist, it may help to be checked out by your doctor. You want to be sure there is no physical reasons for what you feel. Once your doctor clears you, then you can ask for a referral to a therapist. Or you can search on line at

You may also want to learn more about Kleptomania so you can help yourself. Here are some resources:

Stop Me Because I Can't Stop Myself : Taking Control of Impulsive Behavior by Jon Grant, S.W. Kim and Gregory Fricchione

I hope this has helped you,
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