Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Kleptomania: clinical characteristics and associated psychopathology

Susan L. McElroya1 c1, James I. Hudsona1, Harrison G. Popea1 and Paul E. Kecka1

a1 From the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, Laboratories for Psychiatric Research, Psychosis Program, Adult Out-patient Clinic, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA.; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA


A review of research on Kleptomania – the syndrome of compulsive stealing – suggests that kleptomania may be a common disorder, especially among women, and that it may frequently be associated with other forms of psychopathology, such as mood, anxiety, and eating disorders. There appears to be a range of abnormal or non-antisocial stealing behaviours, all with impulsive and/or compulsive features. Kleptomania, as defined by modern criteria, may represent the most compulsive variant. Kleptomania may be related to mood disorder, and might be a form of ‘affective spectrum disorder’.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Susan L. McElroy, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02178, USA.