Diagnostic Criteria for 312.32 Kleptomania

DSM-IV-TR 312.32

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 accounted for by Conduct Disorder, a Manic Episode, or Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Diagnostic Features

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 accounted for 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 and Disorders

Individuals with Kleptomania experience the impulse to steal as ego-dystonic and are aware that the act is wrong and senseless. The person frequently fears being apprehended and often feels depressed or guilty about the thefts. Kleptomania may be associated with compulsive buying as well as with Mood Disorders (especially Major Depressive Disorder), Anxiety Disorders, Eating Disorders (particularly Bulimia Nervosa), Personality Disorders, and other Impulse-Control Disorders. The disorder may cause legal, family, career, and personal difficulties.

Specific Gender Features

Preliminary evidence suggests that, in clinical samples, approximately two-thirds of individuals with Kleptomania are female.


Kleptomania is a rare condition that appears to occur in fewer than 5% of identified shoplifters. Its prevalence in the general population is unknown.


Age at onset of Kleptomania is variable. The disorder may begin in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood, and in rare cases in late adulthood. There is little systematic information on the course of Kleptomania, but three typical courses have been described: sporadic with brief episodes and long periods of remission; episodic with protracted periods of stealing and periods of remission; and chronic with some degree of fluctuation. The disorder may continue for years, despite multiple convictions for shoplifting.

Familial Pattern

There are no controlled family history studies of Kleptomania. However, preliminary data suggest that first-degree relatives of individuals with Kleptomania may have higher rates of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder than the general population.

About Lori Riddle-Walker

Lori Riddle-Walker is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in Escondido, California specializing in treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), emetophobia and other phobias, and anxiety and related disorders in adults, adolescents and children.
No comments yet.

Leave a Reply