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. :)