Steal a Study Tip for the LMSW Exam: Kleptomania

By Emily Pellegrino on September 13, 2012

A child looking at freshly baked cookies, about to steal one Well folks this week we are stealing a look at (humor me) kleptomania and the importance in knowing this term for the LMSW exam.  Kleptomania, not to be confused with shop lifting or ordinary acts of theft, is a diagnosable disorder that may also be part of a larger group of symptoms. Let's get started with a sample question so you can better understand how this term may show up on the LMSW exam.

Sample LMSW Question:

All of the following are diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV-TR for kleptomania EXCEPT:

A. Recurrent failure to resist impulses to steal objects that are not needed for personal use or for their monetary value.

B. Increasing sense of tension immediately before committing the theft and a sense of pleasure, gratification, or relief at the time of committing the theft.

C. The stealing is not committed to express anger or vengeance and is not in response to a delusion or a hallucination

D. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having stolen from another

For individuals who struggle with kleptomania it not necessarily about the object that is being stolen, but more about the feeling the person gets during the act of stealing.  When someone goes to steal an object it occurs without planning or deliberation and is done to achieve a sense of relief, pleasure, or gratification once the theft has been committed.  The Social Work Dictionary defines kleptomania as, "An impulse control disorder in which the person unlawfully takes property belonging to another.  The theft act is motivated by emotional release, excitement, or gratification and not by need for the object or its material value" (Baker, 2003). It's important when thinking of the term kleptomania for the LMSW exam to know the differential diagnoses as well.  The DSM-IV-TR makes it clear that kleptomania is distinguished from Antisocial Personality Disorder because an individual does not exhibit the general patterns of antisocial behavior.  These patterns include a lack of remorse, deceitfulness, aggressiveness, and a disregard for the safety of self or others.  Along with this individuals with kleptomania do not exhibit intentional or inadvertent stealing which may occur in a Manic Episode, or in response to delusions or hallucinations as seen in Schizophrenia or Dementia.


The answer to the question here is D.  If we look at the DSM-IV-TR, A, B, and C are all symptoms of kleptomania whereas D would better fit an individual who is experiencing antisocial behavior.  Kleptomaniacs may feel remorse or guilt after stealing something and therefore it is important to understand the meaning behind the behavior and what feelings may come up for that person during the act.

Coming up next week on the LMSW Exam Prep Blog: Life Review

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your LMSW exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam, check out our LMSW Study Materials. Learn more about our exam prep at the The Therapist Development Center home page.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

Subscribe to our Newsletter and Stay Connected!


Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain Filter