Health Care

New Zealand MP Accused Of Shoplifting: Is Stress-Induced Stealing Same As Kleptomania? Psychiatrist Explains

New Zealand’s 43-year-old MP Golriz Ghahraman resigned from her job on Tuesday after claims surfaced that she had shoplifted from two clothing stores, which she said were caused by stress and hurt to her mental health, according to The New York Times. According to James Shaw, a leader of Ghahraman’s Green Party, the legislator who was a former United Nations human rights lawyer from Iran, has been threatened with sexual violence, physical violence, and death threats since the day she was elected, and police have been investigating such threats regularly. So can mental health issues drive you to something like stealing? Is it similar to kleptomania? Dr Gorav Gupta, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Founder & Director, Tulasi Healthcare, weighs in.

Can Stress Lead To Stealing? Is It Similar To Kleptomania?

Yes, stress can induce theft, say experts. “Stress triggers cortisol release, impacting the prefrontal cortex for decision-making. Under stress, this area becomes less active, impairing rational choices and fostering impulsive behaviours like theft. The altered brain function, driven by desperation, leads to actions individuals might avoid under normal,” says Dr Gorav Gupta. 

However stress-induced theft differs from kleptomania. “Stress-related theft responds to external pressures, driven by perceived need. In contrast, kleptomania is a mental disorder with recurrent impulsive urges to steal unrelated to stress, characterised by tension before theft and relief afterwards. Kleptomania is a psychiatric disorder, not necessarily linked to stress or circumstances,” says Dr Gupta.

Under extreme stress, individuals may display increased aggression, withdrawal, impaired judgment, emotional volatility, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, and altered eating habits, says Dr Gupta. He adds, “Risk-taking behaviours may emerge as a temporary escape. Recognising these responses is crucial for fostering understanding and support during challenging times.”

How To Deal With Stress

To reduce stress and avoid negative consequences, focus on healthy coping strategies like mindfulness and deep breathing, advises the doctor. Dr Gupta explains, “Establishing a supportive network through open communication, incorporating self-care routines, and setting attainable objectives are all necessary. Use time wisely, draw clear boundaries, cultivate a healthy outlook and get professional assistance if necessary. These measures foster resilience and well-being.”

Also Read: Weight Loss, Unexplained Hair Loss, Fatigue? Get Your Thyroid Levels Checked – Doctor Explains

New Zealand MP Golriz Ghahraman Accused Of Shop Lifting: A Background 

Ghahraman, 43, is originally from Iran and she was a United Nations human rights lawyer. She rose to attention in 2017 as the first refugee to be sworn in as a member of the New Zealand Parliament. “I fell short. I’m sorry,” said the lawmaker, Golriz Ghahraman, in a statement on Tuesday, adding “The best thing for my mental health is to resign as a member of Parliament.” Ghahraman, who made no mention of theft in her statement, claimed she couldn’t explain her behaviour since it was “not rational in any way.”

Following the medical treatment, she said, “I understand I’m not well,” adding that a mental health specialist she was seeing claimed her behaviour was consistent with “recent events giving rise to extreme stress response,” and was tied to prior trauma, The New York Times reported. As abuse threats poured in on a regular basis, Green Party leader Shaw added that Ghahraman was subjected to higher amounts of stress than other parliamentarians. He made these statements at a news conference on Tuesday, according to The New York Times.





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