Neuropsychological functioning in kleptomania

Behav Res Ther. 2007 Jul;45(7):1663-70. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2006.08.013. Epub 2006 Sep 27.


Kleptomania is characterized by the failure to resist impulses to steal objects not needed for personal use or their monetary value. The objective of this study was to examine cognitive and executive functioning in subjects with kleptomania. Fifteen women with a primary DSM-IV diagnosis of kleptomania underwent a detailed psychiatric examination, including measures of kleptomania severity, and a battery of neuropsychological tests that emphasized executive functions. Correlational analyses were computed between measures of kleptomania severity and tests of executive functioning. Kleptomania subjects reported a mean duration of illness of 17.9 years and shoplifting a mean of 1.7 times per week. All subjects reported an inability to resist urges to shoplift. Neuropsychological testing revealed group mean test scores within 0.5 standard deviations of normative standards for age. Five subjects (33.3%), however, had below-average performance on at least one measure of executive functioning, and 4 (26.7%) had below-average scores on two executive measures. Correlational analyses revealed a statistically significant correlation between kleptomania severity and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test performance (r=-0.693, p=0.004). As a group, subjects with kleptomania did not demonstrate deficits on neuropsychological testing. Greater kleptomania symptom severity, however, was correlated with impairment in executive functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition*
  • Crime / psychology
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index