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Classification according to ICD-10
F63.2 Pathological stealing (kleptomania)
ICD-10 online (WHO version 2019)

Kleptomania ( ancient Greek κλέπτειν kléptein 'steal' and μανία maníā 'frenzy', 'anger', 'madness') is a symptom from the group of impulse control disorders . The term refers to recurring thefts with no apparent benefit or motive. Colloquial terms such as “compulsive stealing”, “neurotic stealing” etc. are largely synonymous. The term originates from the 19th century and is now rejected by some authors as outdated and misleading.


The term is attributed to André Matthey ( Nouvelles recherches sur les maladies d'esprit , 1816); it was picked up by the French psychiatrists Charles Chrétien Henry Marc and Jean-Étienne Esquirol around 1830 and expanded into the (now abandoned) monomania theory .


It is characteristic that the act of stealing itself is the driving force, not the stolen property, which is typically of low value or is even thrown away after the act. The psychological tension is high before the act and decreases afterwards. There is high comorbidity with obsessive-compulsive disorder and mood disorders . As with all impulse disturbances, there are impulses that cannot be resisted. Kleptomaniac thefts are not committed to vent anger or anger. The thefts are usually experienced as ego-dystonic and are similar to compulsive acts in this regard . Often times, patients experience subsequent feelings of guilt or depression.

“The disorder characterizes repeated failures to withstand impulses to steal things that are not for personal use or enrichment. Instead, the objects are thrown away, given away or hoarded. This behavior is usually associated with growing inner tension before the act and a feeling of satisfaction during and immediately after the act. "

- ICD-10-WHO version 2016


Kleptomania is a very rare disorder. The prevalence is said to be 6/1000 inhabitants. Only about 5% of all shoplifting is caused by kleptomania. 3/4 of the perpetrators are female. In around half of those affected, the onset is before the age of 20.


The treatment of kleptomania is psychoanalytical or behavioral . Cognitive behavior therapy uses methods of covert conditioning , aversion therapy and systematic desensitization . There is also a pharmacological approach using serotonin reuptake inhibitors or naltrexone , but this is not yet evidence-based. Further substances are being tested. A neurobiological correlate that could be treated has not yet been established, even if individual case reports have shown damage to the conduction pathways in the frontal lobe.


Pathological stealing is occasionally used to justify a reduced culpability according to § 21 StGB or also reduced responsibility (§ 3 JGG). Since the pathological mental disorder mentioned in the legal text usually requires one of the Axis I disorders listed in the DSM-IV , kleptomania without concomitant diseases can at most have the characteristics of another severe mental abnormality . However, the diagnosis of “kleptomania” is by no means sufficient; rather, the case law calls for a significant antisocial personality disorder, which can only be assessed in an expert opinion in individual cases by assessing the characteristics of the offense, internal experience, comorbidities, substance use, delinquency history, etc.


  • Jean-Etienne Esquirol : General and special pathology and therapy of mental disorders . Hartmann, Leipzig 1827.
  • Jean-Étienne Esquirol: The mental illnesses in relation to medicine and state medicine . Voss, Berlin 1838 (2 vol.)
  • André Matthey : Nouvelles recherches sur les maladies de l'esprit précédées considérations sur les difficulté de l'art de guérir . Paschoud, Paris, 1816.
  • Tobias Müller: Impulse control disorders - old wine in new bottles? In: Rolf Baer u. a. (Ed.): Ways of psychiatric research . Perimed, Erlangen 1991, ISBN 3-88429-390-7 .
  • Christoph Mundt: Kleptomania . In: Christian Müller : Lexicon of Psychiatry . Springer, Berlin 1986, ISBN 3-437-22900-1 .
  • Susanne Osburg: Mentally ill shoplifters. An analysis of relevant expert opinions on culpability . Kriminalistik-Verlag, Heidelberg 1992, ISBN 978-3-7832-0292-2 .
  • Hans-Ludwig Kröber: Kleptomania or the normal desire to steal. Med.-Wiss. Verlag-Ges., 2013, ISBN 978-3-95466-066-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. Hans-Jürgen Möller, Gerd Laux, Hans-Peter Kapfhammer: Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, Psychotherapy: Volume 1: General Psychiatry Volume 2: Special Psychiatry . Springer-Verlag, July 3, 2009, ISBN 978-3-642-03637-8 , p. 1612.
  2. Uwe Lindemann: The department store: scene of modernity . Böhlau Verlag Köln Weimar, July 15, 2015, ISBN 978-3-412-22534-6 , p. 121.
  3. Thomas Knecht: Pathological forms of stealing. Switzerland Med Forum 2006; 6, pp. 694-698.
  4. Brigitte Vetter: Psychiatry: a systematic textbook; with 34 tables . Schattauer Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-7945-2566-9 , p. 147.
  5. ^ A b Marc Allroggen: Practical handbook forensic psychiatry of children, adolescents and adults: Basics, assessment and treatment . Med.-Wiss. Verlag-Ges., 2011, ISBN 978-3-941468-25-2 , p. 304.
  6. a b Dieter Ebert: Impulse control disorders . In: Psychiatry Psychotherapy Up2date . tape 2 , no. 5 . Georg Thieme Verlag KG, Stuttgart / New York 2008, p. 321-336 , doi : 10.1055 / s-2008-1067449 .
  7. ICD-10-WHO Version 2016: F63.2 Pathological stealing [Kleptomania] ( Memento of the original from May 15, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.dimdi.de
  8. Mayo Clinic (Nov. 2014): Kleptomania - Treatments and drugs. (accessed February 1, 2017)
  9. Michael Zaudig, Rolf Dieter Trautmann-Sponsel, Peter Joraschky: Therapielexikon Psychiatrie, Psychosomatik, Psychotherapie . Springer-Verlag, March 28, 2006, ISBN 978-3-540-30986-4 , p. 391.
  10. ^ John E. Grant, Understanding and treating kleptomania: New models and new treatments. Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci Vol 43 No. 2 (2006), pp. 81-87.
  11. Frank Häßler, Norbert Nedopil, Wolfram Kinze: Practical Guide Forensic Psychiatry: Basics, Assessment, Interventions in Adults, Adolescents and Children . MWV Medizinisch Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Company KG, March 10, 2015, ISBN 978-3-95466-145-9 , pp. 109-12.