Kleptomania Diagnostic Criteria
A. Recurrent failure to resist impulses to steal objects that are not needed for personal
use or for their monetary value.
B. Increasing sense of tension immediately before committing the theft.
C. Pleasure, gratification, or relief at the time of committing the theft.
D. The stealing is not committed to express anger or vengeance and is not in response
to a delusion or a hallucination.
E. The stealing is not better explained by conduct disorder, a manic episode, or antisocial
The essential feature of kleptomania is the recurrent failure to resist impulses to steal items
even though the items are not needed for personal use or for their monetary value (Criterion
A). The individual experiences a rising subjective sense of tension before the theft (Criterion B)
and feels pleasure, gratification, or relief when committing the theft (Criterion C). The stealing
is not committed to express anger or vengeance, is not done in response to a delusion or hallucination
(Criterion D), and is not better explained by conduct disorder, a manic episode, or
antisocial personality disorder (Criterion E). The objects are stolen despite the fact that they are
typically of little value to the individual, who could have afforded to pay for them and often
gives them away or discards them. Occasionally the individual may hoard the stolen objects or
surreptitiously return them. Although individuals with this disorder will generally avoid
stealing when immediate arrest is probable (e.g., in full view of a police officer), they usually
do not preplan the thefts or fully take into account the chances of apprehension. The stealing is
done without assistance from, or collaboration with, others.
Associated Features Supporting Diagnosis
Individuals with kleptomania typically attempt to resist the impulse to steal, and they are
aware that the act is wrong and senseless. The individual frequently fears being apprehended
and often feels depressed or guilty about the thefts. Neurotransmitter pathways
associated with behavioral addictions, including those associated with the serotonin, dopamine,
and opioid systems, appear to play a role in kleptomania as well.