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Shoplifters Anonymous

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Characteristics

Compulsive shoplifters share many of these characteristics:

  1. Emotional Deprivation
    Growing up, we felt deprived of emotional intimacy or trust in our family.  We rarely felt we were "good enough."
  2. Material Deprivation or Overload
    Growing up, we rarely received new things.  Even getting things we needed was difficult.  Or we were overwhelmed with new things.
  3. Lack of Sense of Identity
    We feel like the outcast of the family.  We feel unlovable.  We feel invisible, or that we don't really exist.  We are easily mistreated or even want to be punished.
  4. Distant Parents
    Our parents got involved only when enforcing rules or disciplining us.
  5. Poorly Defined Boundaries and Privacy
    Our parents disregarded or violated our emotional and physical boundaries.
  6. Envy
    We envy or resent successful people and successful businesses.
  7. Revenge Urges
    Our mind is filled with thoughts of retribution for all our unfair treatment (as we perceive it).
  8. Stealing to Give Gifts
    We want to impress others and do not believe our friends and family will like us just for who we are and what we can afford.  Or we steal out of anger when obligated to give a gift to someone we think does not deserve it.
  9. Sense of Entitlement
    We feel we have suffered unfairly in life - much more than other people.  We feel entitled to steal things to offset this inequity.
  10. Loss of a Family Member
    We lost someone close to us.  We became deeply depressed, miserable.
  11. Career Shoplifting
    We steal to sell the merchandise for profit.  We want respect from peers in our community.  We want to counteract perceived "oppression" from business owners and political leaders.
  12. Instant Gratification
    We can't wait for what we want.
  13. Need Emotional Release
    We steal impulsively to get relief from anger, anxiety, depression or desperation.  Stealing gives us a thrill.  We can achieve this high by stealing even the smallest thing.
  14. Inner Emptiness
    We continually steal to fill an emptiness within us.  That emptiness has no end.
  15. Addiction
    There is never enough.  Once we start stealing, we cannot stop.  Stealing one item awakens an uncontrollable monster within us.
  16. New Merchandise Thrills Us
    Acquiring new things distracts us from our emotional problems and gives us some relief.  However the thrill is temporary and quickly dissipates.
  17. Unrealistic Grasp of Consequences
    The risks - arrest, imprisonment, losing our children, deportation - do not prevent us from stealing.  We are trapped in a fantasy of invincibility.  We rationalize, "As long as I am risking getting caught, I may as well steal pricier things."
  18. Persistent Fear, Guilt and Paranoia
    We are regularly plotting our next theft, therefore we live with constant paranoia.  We fear our friends are onto our stealing habits.  Or, if they already know, we fear they will falsely accuse us of stealing when we have not.
  19. The Double Life
    We portray a normal law-abiding existence while simultaneously stealing.  We really want a normal life.  We unconsciously want to get caught to be put out of our misery.
  20. Suicidal Thoughts
    We feel we no longer want to live, even if we have children.  Such suicidal thoughts become more intense after being caught.
  21. Relapse
    Despite long periods of sobriety, we resume shoplifting.