If you’re struggling with an overpowering urge to steal then there is a possibility that this cure for kleptomania will help you. Of course you wish you could just stop it – after all, stealing … – but you can’t help it.
Addicted to stealing
Being a kleptomaniac doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or have a flawed character. Rather it means that you are the victim of an aggressive addiction, and that there are chemical imbalances within the reward centers of your brain.
You probably don’t plan to steal something ahead of time, but it’s rather an impulsive and compulsive sudden urge that overcomes you, and you just can resist. It’s like an emotional itch that just get’s worse if you don’t scratch it.
Most kleptomaniacs also never seek professional advice because they feel embarrassed, ashamed or simply scared that they might get into legal troubles or end up in prison. Apart of that, many kleptomania treatments aren’t particularly enticing. Most therapists will make use of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Prescription drugs can help to control the urge to steal, but it also flattens out all you other emotional experiences. In most cases doctors prescribe antidepressants, mood stabilizers and anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications / antiepileptic drugs).
A common anti-convulsant for kleptomania is tiparamate – which basically puts a limit to how much excitement you can experience. It basically makes shoplifting less exciting – but it also makes everything else in your life less exciting. And when you stop taking it, stealing will be just as thrilling, except that your brain will be even more out of control after you’ve drugged it with tiparamate for an extended period of time.
There are of course different opinions, and many people who are involved in the medical & pharmaceutical industrial complex will tell you that with absolute certainty the best way to treat kleptomania is with medication. While I personally do not belief this to be true, I still think it’s important that you gather enough knowledge from different viewpoints so that you can make your own informed decision. That’s why I included this short and concise video clip of Jon Grant, who works as a researcher at the University of Minnesota.
While psychotherapy can help you to feel better about your condition, it can also be a very lengthy and expensive way to try to overcome kleptomania. There are three main methods therapists use: covert sensitization, aversion therapy and systematic desensitization.
Aversion therapy basically works like this: whenever you feel an intense urge to steal, you do something that causes you discomfort. This could be pinching yourself painfully, holding your breath until it’s almost painful or things like that. The idea behind this is that you “teach yourself” that the urge to steal makes you experience negative emotions.
Covert sensitization is about imaginging yourself stealing something, and then imagining how something bad happens: for example, feeling terrible about your actions, or getting caught and ending up on a police station, having to deal with legal troubles, paying fines, being banned from shopping centers, getting fired from your job or sitting in a jail cell. From my experience, this is the least helpful way of therapy from them all, because most kleptomaniacs imagine these things all ready too much of the time.
Systematic desensitization is all about getting yourself deeply relaxed and then imagining yourself controlling the urge to steal.
If you experience a relapse, don’t think that all is lost – be patient with yourself and stay on course. Remind yourself that this can be a very difficult tough process, and that most kleptomaniacs don’t overcome their addiction in a straight line.
One of the reasons why hypnosis can be such an effective method for curing kleptomania is because it works directly with your subconscious mind – which is where the urge to steal emerges from in the first place. You probably steal in order to release stress, tension or anxiety – but underneath it, there is an emotional need which is not being fulfilled, and you’re trying to fill that emptiness with the kick you get from stealing.