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Curiosities Of Kleptomania

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Some curious cases of kleptomania are mentioned in Chamberí Journal. A lady was affected witli this monoinania so strongly, tliat, upon her trial for theft, she stated that she had such a mad longing to possess herself of everything she sa w, that if she were at church she could not refrain from stealing froin the altar. Dr. Rush, the American physician, informs us that a vvouian who was exemplary in her obedience to the moral law - exeept the eightli commandment - was so addieted to larceny, that, when shecouldtake nothing more valuable, she would often, at the table of a friend, secretly flll her ets with bread. Lavater also states that a doctor of medicine could not leave liis paticnts' rooms without takiug tway soinethiug unobserved; and his wife searohed his pocketa and returiKd to their owneis tlie knivea, thiinbles, seissois, etc, whicli her lmsband abstracted. The wife of another physician liad so strong a pioperisity to stea), thaton making pinchases sheendeavored to take something uvvay that dil nst belonji to her; and two Germán countesses apppear to have been guilty of the same vice. The almoner of a regiment of l'russiancuirassiers, awell educated man, frequently on parade stole the handkerchiefs of the oflicers; and one unfortunate man was so far under the influence of kleptomania, that, being well nigh untodeath, heactually secreted the snuff-box of his confessor! As to modern instances of this species of insanity, we knew a parish clergyman who stole every article he could lay his hands on. If out at dinner, he pocketed scraps of bread, table-napkins or anything. When lodging at hotels he carried off pieces of soap, and the end of candles f rom hisbed-room. II is larcenies became so notorious that he was ultimately brought before the church courts and turned out of his living. Dr. Gall mentions an instance of two citizens of Vienna, who, on becomiiig insane, were well known in the hospital for an extraordinary propensity to steal, although they had before lived irreproachable lives. They wandered about from morning to night and picked up whatever they could lay their hands on, which they carefully hid in their rooms. Abnormal conformations of the head aecompanied vrith an cile understanding are of ten the cause of kleptomania. Gall and Spurzheim saw in Berne prison a boy twelve years old, who is described as "11 organized and rickety," who never could avoid stealing. An ex-commissan' of pólice at Toulouse was condemned to eight years' imprisonment and hard labor, and to the pillory forhaving stolen some plate wliile in oflice. He did not deny the crime, but persisted to the last in a singular kind of defence. He attributed thé crime to mental derangement caused by wounds he had reeeived at Marseilles in 1815. Another case is related of a young ïuan, who, after being severely wounded in the temple, for which he was trepanned, manifesled an nnconquerable propensity ior theft, which was quite against his natural disposition. He was imprisoned for larceny after having coinmitted severa! rubberies; and had not medical testimony been produced to show that he was iusane, and which attributed his kleptomania to a disorder of the brain, he Wóuld have been punished according to law. Söveral ingemous but improper defences have been made by persons possessed of good pecuniary means, and holding a respectable social position, with a view of escaping imprisonment for thefts they have committed more for moral turpitude than a liseased mind. One of the most noteworthy of these is mentioned by ('asper. Madame de X had stolen articles iii three goldsmitli's shops, and subsequenüy confessed to lier husbsnd that at a certain time she had an irresistible desire to possess herself of shining objects. She confessed to having taken goods from shops, and stated that on one oecasicn, when she went to return the goods, she had been restrained from doing so by the belief that the articles were her own. Much evidence was given to prove that she ' suffered trom mental disease; but on Casper's opinión being asked concerning her allegert kleptowania, he coneluded that her propensity to steal was not irresistible, that she had not been compelled to commit the three thefts in spite of herself, and that she was responsible for them as criminal actions. His reasous for this opinión were that, in the fust place, ulthough the accused had besought her hrsband not to take her to those places where shining objeets were to beseen, she went to goldsmiths' shops of her own accord, and without any neef ssity for doing so; second, that she paid away silver; third, that she broke up the objeets she stole in order that they might not be nized, and in that way led to her detection; fourth, that she had not gone to the same golqsmith's shop twice; flfth, tbat she hid concealed her conduct froui her husband; and last, that, when she was interrogated, she had made many false and contradictor}statements.


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Ann Arbor Democrat