Posted by: Sumanda | 2008/07/16

MS patient with possible cleptomania?

My sister-in-law has been caught stealing various things, including airtime and money. She also suffers from MS and has a lession on a particularly bad place in her brain. The stealing started before she was diagnosed with MS, and included things like material, cd's, etc. Is it possible that she suffers from cleptomania or is it possible that the MS can cause this? Do you know where I will be able to obtain more information on the condition?
She refuses to acknowledge that she steals even when caught redhanded. She does however give back what she has stolen. She also lies to everyone about almost everything. And has caused a great deal of family strive with her stories.
She also has trouble remembering things, what she has done or said.

Thank you

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Our expert says:
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MS doesn't cause kleptomania. Obviously it could be depressing news and a cause of stress and anxiety, and those elements in their turn can result in some people starting kleptomania ( and in some ways a person who has just received such bad news might in an odd way feel "entitled" to give themself treats of some sort ); and much depends on where the brain lesions are, as if they are affecting her memory, people with some memory problems may walk out without paying for things forgetfully rather than deliberately. Has this stealing only been recently noticed ( maybe she's more clumsy since the onset of the disease ) or has it only recently started ? Was she ever noted to lie or otherwise act dishonestly before ? MS can produce a degree of disinhibition which could be relevant here
"Kleptomania" is a popular rathwer than a specialist diagnosis, and in any case she should be seen and carefully assessed by a good loca psychiatrist, and then after he has made a diagnosis, management can be sensibly discussed.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Sumanda | 2008/07/17

Thank you for your reply. It has given us the information that we needed to act on her problem.

Reply to Sumanda

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