61 QUESTION: Can you tell us the psychological reasons of kleptomania?
ANSWER: Before I attempt to answer this question, I want to emphasize that all generalizations should be taken with great care. You should abstain from applying my answer to each case you may hear about. Nothing of that sort can ever be generalized. So many personal aspects, individual influences and reactions play a part.
Even if this answer may be part of the setup, it may still be a half-truth applied to any individual case, for many personal characteristics have to be taken into consideration that change the entire picture. But I may shed some light, as far as it can be generalized, on this question.
In many cases, a person becomes a kleptomaniac out of a misunderstood, falsely interpreted current of “I want to have. When I have, I am happy.”
In other words, the rulership principle I discussed recently manifests in this particular way. It may be that the child was constantly frustrated in getting what it desired, most particularly objects, perhaps. This frustration, in addition to certain other personality disturbances strengthening this current, in addition to the temperament and character of the person in question, results in a constant compulsive and senseless action of acquiring objects.
This action is almost like an automatism that the person cannot understand. Such people need to re-experience the relevant emotions of their childhood. When they feel how much it hurt not to get what they desired and how they suppressed the hurt, making the compulsive need all the stronger, they will begin to understand their compulsive actions, and by that process, they will cease repeating them.
Once the unconscious aim is understood, the consciousness will see that enacting the compulsion does not bring happiness – quite the contrary. By seeing that the unconscious aim is based on a wrong conclusion, they will be cured of this disease, really cured – not superficially by restraining the action, while the feelings continue in that direction. That I do not call a cure.
QUESTION: The description you gave would give me the answer to a question of compulsive acquisitiveness on the part of one who already has abundance, and, on the other hand, stealing on the part of one who lacks. But a kleptomaniac is one who steals without need.
ANSWER: Exactly. It is a symbolic outer act. The other cases may have a similar origin, but other factors play a role, so the symptoms change. People who steal because they are in need may be in an altogether different category. Entirely different currents and reactions may bring them to do that.
Compulsive acquisitiveness in those who have what they need may have a similar origin, but not necessarily. There, the desire to be approved may play a much greater part. In this case, one acquires things of actual material value through which one may get some power and admiration – or so one hopes.
Whereas in kleptomania, the acquisition of things has nothing to do with actual material value with which to impress others. It is completely irrational. It out-pictures symbolically the petrified impression in the soul, that “only by having what the world denies me, taking it myself, can I become happy.” These objects may either be the same as, or in some way remind the person by association of, objects the baby wanted to play with or to hold but was not allowed to.
It is the very compulsiveness of acquiring things that have absolutely no value which indicates that it is a re-enactment of frustrated childhood experience. Such a person unconsciously wants to make up for it for the rest of his or her life. In both cases you mention, some similar trend may also exist, but a more rational personality converts it into a less irrational, although perhaps more unethical act.
QUESTION: Where is it combined with elements of dishonesty?
ANSWER: When you examine the soul the way you do on this Path, you inevitably find that all deviations, so-called neuroses and sicknesses, are in one form or another always a dishonesty. Because it is untruth, unreality, wanting to get something for nothing, not paying the price.
If a person wants to receive love without wishing to invest in the risk of loving on his or her part, such a person is dishonest. In that sense, everything that causes emotional problems is dishonest. Only humans draw a sharp borderline between the outer and obvious dishonesty and the subtle inner one.