The science of stealing

Each week, Nature features a double-page spread of Research Highlights, the editors' choices of what is striking across the range of the scientific literature (in their view) that week. Today's issue contains a gem, summarising a paper from the journal  Behavioural Psychiatry with the title: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of the Opiate Antagonist, Naltrexone, in the Treatment of Kleptomania, by Jon Grant et al.. The title of Nature's Research Highlight summary is the more digestible: The Thief Within.

The authors of the study write: "Kleptomania is a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by recurrent stealing and for which there exists no empirically validated treatments. This study examined the efficacy and tolerability of the opioid antagonist naltrexone in adults with kleptomania who have urges to steal." According to the paper, within 8 weeks, the 11 volunteers, who "ordinarily steal at least once a week" receiving the drug reported a significant reduction in their compulsion to steal compared with the placebo group. These preliminary results are said to support a link between the symptoms of kleptomania and the body's opioid system.

Nature Network blogger Raf Aert's take? "Researchers later recovered two laptops, five wallets and a ham sandwich from the control group."

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