K is for Kleptomania




Wikipedia states the definition of Kleptomania (klep-toe-MAY-nee-uh) as the inability to refrain from the urge to steal items and is done for reasons other than personal use or financial gain, usually items that you generally don't really need and have little value. First described in 1816, kleptomania is classified in psychiatry as an impulse control disorder. On the other hand, there is some speculation that because some of the main characteristics of the disorder -- recurring intrusion feelings, an inability to resist the urge to steal, and a release of pressure following the theft -- suggest that kleptomania could be an obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder.

Kleptomania is a syndrome that's characterized by problems with emotional or behavioral self-control. If you have an impulse control disorder, you have difficulty resisting the temptation or drive to perform an act that's excessive or harmful to you or someone else.

So why am I describing this to you? Because one of the main characters of my forthcoming book, MOVING FEAR, is Lewis -- a frail 15 year old boy who suffers from the ailment along with a host of other issues, all brought about by abandonment at a young age and an extended stay in a less than forgiving foster care system. Like many of the people who live with this disorder, Lewis now struggles with a secret shame, but a female classmate (Brodie) who has taken it upon herself to become Lewis’s conduit back into the world, helps him by anonymously returning everything he takes – deciding to view his actions as “extreme borrowing”.

I found this malady particularly interesting because it is frequently under-diagnosed, even though it is regularly associated with other psychiatric disorders, particularly anxiety and eating disorders, and alcohol and substance abuse. Persons diagnosed with kleptomania also have great levels of stress, guilt, and remorse, and privacy issues accompanying the act of stealing.

The manner in which Lewis, under Brodie’s wing, deals with his issues serve as a backdrop to pulling my main character – the self-absorbed loner Knox – out of his shell. Well, that and the fact that an ancient demon is attempting to murder them all.  :)

12 comments

  1. The plot sounds very interesting. Extreme borrowing - I like that! I bet a lot of people with this condition were treated harshly when it was not diagnosed or not fully understood.

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  2. Can't wait to see Moving Fear on the shelves someday :-D

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  3. "Well, that and the fact that an ancient demon is attempting to murder them all." LOL. Minor details :)

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  4. I remember when Winona Ryder was diagnosed with kleptomania...I can't wait to read Moving Fear! :D

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  5. It sounds like an interesting problem for your character to suffer from. Hopefully we'll be able to read about him soon.

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  6. Interesting facts about KIeptomania, but more important it sounds like you've done your research well. I'm one of those readers who really appreciates that in a novel. Often, authors like to skim over the facts concerning a 'character flaw', which tends to mislead readers. I like a little fact thrown in with my fiction.

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  7. Yeah, Moving Fear will definitely be one of those that will HAVE TO read immediately!!! I use to dabble in extreme borrowing myself when I was younger but I think it was mostly because I loved other peoples pretty things. Eventually I grew out of it, or I started learning right from wrong. Now I ask if I can extremely borrow ones items.

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  8. Hi Don - what a great post and then story line re your character .. and how fascinating to learn about .. great post - cheers Hilary

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  9. I could not imagine having this condition.

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  10. Your book keeps sounding better and better each time I hear about it!

    2015 A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Matthew MacNish from The QQQE

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  11. I've never thought about the background of kleptomania before, but I like it.

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  12. ooh never thought much about this either. I always used to use the term really loosely, like if my kitten prances off with my bookmark I'll call her a little klepto lol...but that's so interesting, and such a unique ailment for your character!

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