I’m writing in response to your column of Wednesday, Aug 21. Dr. Bering suggests taking the child to a therapist to address “kleptomania.” This is flat out inaccurate, and I hope you will correct this in your column.

First, just to establish my credentials so that you konw that I know what I'm talking about: I am a licensed therapist—a Licensed Clinical Social Worker—and part of my scope of practice is diagnosing mental disorders.
Now to the important bit: not all stealing is kleptomania. The first criterion for 312.32, Kleptomania, is "Recurrent failure to resist impulses to steal objects that are not needed for personal use or for their monetary value."
In this case, these items are absolutely and clearly for personal use. While it is certainly true that stealing is a problem, it appears to be the result of not having independent access to these items. The stealing is secondary to the fetish/paraphilia. I would only be concerned if the behavior continues after the person is able to have independent access to the fetish object.

Finally, I'm a regular reader of your column, and I enjoy reading it every week. I was first made aware of your work in your speech regarding "the price of admission," which I now regularly use in therapy. Thanks for that—it's a simple phrase and concept that has been very helpful to me.

Joseph H. Greene, L.C.S.W.

I should've caught that—I'm sure Dr. Bering was just using the term colloquially, not diagnostically, but I'll run your letter today to correct the record.—Dan

Well, unless you're also a therapist, why would you know the diagnostic criteria? And I'm sure the term was being used colloquially. I just think it's one of those things that ought not to be used so. That's the danger, I suppose, of knowing a technical language. Don't get me started on the subject of "ambivalence" as it's used in common parlance! Anyway, thank you for the prompt reply, and for your column. I'm glad I could help!—JHG