Stealing behavior and impulsivity in individuals with kleptomania who have been arrested for shoplifting
Abstract Objectives Kleptomania is characterized by strong urges to steal and is one of only a few psychiatric disorders defined by illegal behaviors, but the clinical characteristics of individuals with kleptomania who have faced legal consequences due to their behavior are poorly understood. Method From 2001 to 2012, we recruited 107 adult participants with DSM-IV kleptomania. Participants with a history of shoplifting-related arrest ( N = 82) were compared with those who had no such history ( N = 25) on demographics, clinical features, and a self-report measure of impulsivity. Results Participants whose shoplifting had resulted in arrest had higher self-rated impulsivity on a weak trend level (Eysenck Impulsiveness Questionnaire), with large to very large effect size (Cohen's d = 1.12). Group comparisons showed no significant differences in terms of overall functioning ( d = 0.60), time spent stealing ( d = 0.73), frequency of stealing behavior ( d = 0.33), psychiatric comorbidity, or severity of kleptomania symptoms. Conclusions Legal problems in kleptomania may be associated with generalized deficits in inhibitory control independent of kleptomania symptom severity. These findings emphasize the need for treatment to improve functional status in individuals with kleptomania and reduce the social and economic costs associated with reoffending.
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