Skip to comments.Wanted: Kleptomaniacs for Stanford: Psychiatry Dept. forming study group to test drug
Posted on 10/10/2002 10:55:49 PM PDT by chance33_98
Wanted: Kleptomaniacs for Stanford BY ANGELINA MALHOTRA-SINGH Of The Examiner Staff
When "Kleptomania" hit the silver screen a few years ago, a sticky-fingered duo made spontaneous stealing look like a sexy, steamy, viable way of life.
Turns out, kleptos are depressed, anxiety-ridden compulsive thieves who count pathological hair-pullers, skin-pickers and pyromaniacs among their imbalanced brethren.
And Stanford University wants 'em. Two dozen of them, and it wants them bad.
The school's psychiatry department is set to test a new antidepressant drug, Lexapro, on kleptos, to see whether the medication tempers their disorder. The drug's manufacturer, Forest Labs, is sponsoring the study.
The cost of signing on for the study, however, is potentially high. Participants will keep a log of any crimes they commit. And while Stanford researchers are not legally required to report patients' behavior to police, the buck stops at their hallowed gates.
"If someone gets arrested, they'll be out of the study and we'll try to get them a psychiatric referral," explains Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, one of the primary researchers. "But, yes, they'll have to deal with all the legal ramifications of arrest."
After seven weeks on Lexapro, volunteers will be divided into a placebo group and a medicated group and tracked for 17 additional weeks. The latter appears to have a chance at a clean life -- a study done in Israel in 1999 found both Paxil and Prozac to be effective cures.
Recovering shoplifter, therapist and attorney Terrence Shulman, founder of the decade-old self-help group Cleptomaniacs and Shoplifters Anonymous, has long found antidepressants both necessary and helpful.
"Out of the 600 or so people I've counseled, about half of them have been on some sort of medication -- mostly Paxil -- with quite a bit of success," says Shulman.
The placebo group has a less rosy outlook. Aside from Stanford's cool shoulder, they can expect little sympathy from any shop in which they get nabbed.
Asked what she would do if confronted with a thief who pleaded kleptomania, one shop manager laughed out loud.
"I've heard that one before," she said dryly. "I called the police."
But what if the perp was part of a Stanford study, possibly in the no-meds group?
"I'd suggest they transfer to the other group," she said.
To volunteer, contact the Stanford Study Office @ (650) 725-5180.
Contact Terrence Shulman at shoplifteranonymous.com
Paging Winona Ryder.
They had to cancel the study because the pills kept getting stolen.
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