Chronic stealing, like it will make me feel better

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I have been on anti-depressants for 6 years. Cause PTST. I have recently had the compulsion to steal. Mostly books, but sometimes cosmetics. I have boxes of books. Mostly not read. The ones that i have read i keep. My husband would like to get read of them, but i feel if i need a particular one I wouldn’t be able to find it. I am going to get caught ultimetly, law of averages says so. I’ve been chronically stealing for about 2 years. How do i stop. I cannot tell my husband, we’ve just got things back together from some other emotional issues from my childhood problems. i’m afraid this might be the straw that broke the camels back. Pleas help me. Whats wrong with me?

A. You have not mentioned if you are currently in therapy. If not, you should be. There are things that you can try in therapy including punishment using an aversive stimulus like a thick rubber band around your wrist. When you go into the store and have the urge to steal something, pull the rubber band, hold it and let it go resulting in a sharp but harmless sting. Repeat this until the urge subsides. I would not do this in place of therapy but in addition to therapy. As you pointed out, eventually you will be arrested and therapy might prevent this.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Apr 2005

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2005). Chronic stealing, like it will make me feel better. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2005/04/25/chronic-stealing-like-it-will-make-me-feel-better/

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