Mental health & petty theft
January 6, 2008 12:39 PM   Subscribe

What is the pathology of a person who steals small personal items such as shoes, underwear and sunglasses in order to remember or think of someone?
posted by GoodJob! to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by glibhamdreck at 12:45 PM on January 6, 2008 [3 favorites]

posted by jengapiece at 1:32 PM on January 6, 2008

It all sounds trophy-creepy to me.

I bet it falls under Antisocial personality disorder.
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:38 PM on January 6, 2008

Kleptostalgic, that's great! I'm not a big fan of psychology as I think its a failing enterprise when it comes down to addressing personal values...but for this case I think this would generally fall under OCD if the reasons behind the stealing are less important to the observer. From there I assume it would be treated as a form of an impulse control disorder (eg. like OCD, BSD, etc)

Kleptomania by itself has that one part to its definition that doesn't really fit this senario, which is indifference to the sentimental value of the item being stolen (or irrational..the mania part). I think you can find a way to get the word you're looking for with latin or greek roots/suffixes...although I don't believe it will be a word used clinically :) (could be wrong though..that's just my best guess from scouring google, kleptostalgic is a good start..hah)
posted by samsara at 2:04 PM on January 6, 2008

Also Kleptophilia could work for the underwear example.
posted by samsara at 2:11 PM on January 6, 2008

posted by FlamingBore at 3:36 PM on January 6, 2008 [6 favorites]

"I'm steal thinking of you..."
"You stole my heart, but I stole your underpants"

Does this person not have such a good memory, and need the objects? Or perhaps it is a sort of trophy of the relationship?
posted by tomble at 4:46 PM on January 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Go to the bookstore, try to find the book They Have A Word For It, there's actually a word for this in some language. I used to know what it was but I've forgotten.

I do it. Pathology... triggered nostalgia. Last time I visited home I snagged my sister's cheapo sunglasses, every morning when I put them on I remember my sister for a moment.

I can't quite understand the underwear thing, more like a T-shirt. Taken from somebody you won't see for a while, or maybe never again (like college roommate at end of semester). Nothing valuable, nothing special to the person, just some little thing that you'll use and remember the good times. Sorta pick your own physical memento.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:10 PM on January 6, 2008

Zengargoyle- you need help. Stealing is stealing. And then on top of it, you wear your sister's sunglasses every morning to remember her. God, that's ( you're) weird! LMAO
posted by GoodJob! at 6:39 AM on January 7, 2008

Your own answer, disagreeing with someone offering you help, as best answer? Classy.

There's no diagnosis to which this would correspond in the DSM-IV, which is used for mental health diagnoses. Not everything is a pathology in that sense, even if it's wrong.

There are many ways to describe it that use concepts from clinical (or even cognitive) psychology, but they are not value-laden in quite the way you seem to think would be appropriate. This kind of person might be described, contingent on other issues, as having trouble with object permanency, which is generally the ability to maintain a mental and emotional representation of someone when they are not present.
posted by OmieWise at 8:28 AM on January 7, 2008

Well, I was waiting for someone to declare it as stealing and no one did except for me. And after doing some other research given other traits of the person in question ( which I did not disclose here on this forum), I believe the pathology is Antisocial personality disorder.
posted by GoodJob! at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2008

Well, I was waiting for someone to declare it as stealing and no one did except for me.

Well no one called it stealing because you had already identified it as such in your question, and "stealing" isn't a pathology, so using the word doesn't answer the question you posed.

I'm glad you found your pathology, but nothing in the question would have indicated Anti-social personality disorder.
posted by OmieWise at 10:24 AM on January 7, 2008

Since when is stealing not a pathology? There is no difference between stealing a 25K auto or a pair of sunglasses except for its level of value.
And stealing small personal items from someone's home in a sneaky manner is especially pathological. I'm not commenting further on this since I have my answer.
posted by GoodJob! at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2008

I can tell you're pretty pissed off about this, which is probably appropriate in your personal life, but hasn't helped you to craft a question for AskMe.

Stealing is a pathology insofar as it's a deviation from the norm, but not a pathology because it's a disease (which is what you seem to indicate you think it is). As I said before, not everything morally or legally wrong constitutes a pathology (of the disease type). Stealing as departure from the norm is a pathology in and of itself, which is a tautology and makes yoru question worthless on its face. (Although I guess you like tautologies, amirite, since you marked your tautological answer as best.) Stealing, in and of itself, does not necessarily indicate some other disease (pathology). Even given the motivation you posted in your question, there is not anywhere near enough information to speculate on a pathology for the person you mention; taking stealing as the only symptom, the correct answer is that it isn't a pathology (disease).

Nowhere have I suggested that stealing isn't wrong. Were you a little less reactive and uncivil, you would find that the fact that your question was answered to your evident dissatisfaction had more to do with your poor conceptualization than with the answerers.
posted by OmieWise at 11:08 AM on January 7, 2008

I'm jazzed that I got favorited, but I don't know how the answer to "What is the pathology of a person who steals" becomes "stealing." It's stealing because they're a stealer? Isn't this sort of begging the question? :) I know GoodJob! has her answer, but I wish her question had said, "I think that a person who steals personal items in order to remember or think of someone else is a stealer. Do you agree?" Because before hitting "post," I think she would have rethunkit.

I went with antisocial personality disorder because of descriptions on Wikipedia and on other web sites. IANAP. :) Nowhere could I find a reference specific to the original question; kleptomania didn't seem to apply because while it involves stealing, it's more of a compulsion to take things, to scratch an itch, rather than having anything to do with remembering a person. I found nothing related to remembering a person. But other disorders do involve stealing (or doing things without realizing they're wrong, or doing things even though they're wrong). Antisocial personality disorder seems like kind of an umbrella disorder. Wikipedia:

"The essential feature for the diagnosis is a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."

"Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest."

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

"Tendency to violate the rights and boundaries of others (property, physical, sexual, emotional, legal)."

"A sense of extreme entitlement." (This one would be my personal favorite behavioral disorder.)

So I figure, someone who takes things, from friends, no less (which was kind of implied by the question, though I immediately did think of trophy taking by murderers), isn't stealing because he or she wants to acquire something for nothing. But a person who does so clearly satisfies the above descriptions, yes? Anyway, I went with "falls under" because certainly not everyone who qualifies as antisocial steals their friends' sunglasses.

And in the not-too-far-back of my mind I was thinking of trophy taking murderers, and they're always classified as antisocial.
posted by iguanapolitico at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2008

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