Help. I can’t stop stealing from my parents.

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I can’t stop stealing from my parents. I know i’m wrong but however much i get punished i don’t stop. I’m not all that close to my parents but i feel we’re close enough. I don’t like to talk about my emotions to my family and tend to bottle things up. I love my family very much and i don’t mean to hurt them but something keeps making me. I get very stressy easily and often start crying and get wound up for no reason or not knowing why. I have a great circle of friends none of which influence me to do anything i don’t want to and none of them have got me into stealing, i don’t remember how it started but now i seem to be stuck.

A: I find I have more questions than answers. There are many reasons why a nice girl like you might steal from the parents she loves and wishes were closer. See if any of these ideas fit: Is it possible that you want them to notice that you’re having a hard time but are scared to tell them in words that you need some help? Is it possible that you are trying to fill up an “emotional hole” with material things? Could it be that you are more angry with your folks than you would like to admit and the stealing is a way to get even? All of these questions lead us down a psychological path. A therapist would help you explore these issues and others like them to try to get to the bottom of your behavior.

But there’s also a possibility that you have either a physical or emotional disorder that you somehow quiet down by stealing. If you were my daughter, I’d want to take you for a complete medical workup. Is your crying a result of a hormone imbalance, for example? Sometimes physical problems can make a person very, very anxious or depressed. Then the person accidentally falls on something that relieves the anxiety or depression, if only for a moment. Relief feels good. Actually, relief feels great! (This is how a lot of very bad habits get started.) It could be that the focus that is required to steal distracts you from a feeling you find unbearable. If there is a medical intervention that could make that bad feeling go away, you wouldn’t feel like you need to steal. I know this may seem like a weird idea but, trust me, sometimes behavior that is out of character has a medical root.

I suggest you make an appointment with your physician and with a therapist and see what they have to say.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Feb 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Help. I can’t stop stealing from my parents.. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/02/13/help-i-cant-stop-stealing-from-my-parents/