Antidepressants may trigger bizarre theft behavior by usually honest individuals — (Dr. Will Cupchik, Registered Psychologist)

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Dr Will Cupchik is the former Psychologist-in-Charge, Forensic Outpatient Psychological Services (1984-86), at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto. He was the senior author of the groundbreaking article titled Shoplifting: An Occasional Crime Of The Moral Majority, published in 1983 in the major peer-reviewed professional journal, the Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. He has written two books describing his clinical investigations and findings in regard to the atypical theft behavior of usually honest adults; Why Honest People Shoplift Or Commit Other Acts Of Theft (Revised Ed., 2002) and his latest book, Why Usually Honest People Steal (2013). In his most recent book he articulated his findings regarding the likely contributing factor of prescribed antidepressants in precipitating seemingly bizarre acts of shoplifting and other theft behaviors by generally honest and ethical individuals.

In his earlier works Dr Cupchik outlined his findings as to why normally honest adults might risk so very much in terms of their personal reputations, working situations and even their very freedom, by acts of shoplifting and/or other theft behaviors. Among these findings were the following: acts of atypical theft may be precipitated by an unconsciously driven desire to compensate oneself for anticipated or actual ‘unfair’ personally meaningful losses. Also, in some instances these thefts may have been carried out in reaction to extreme stressors and/or a desire for conscious, subconscious or unconscious retribution.

In his latest study of some 30 clients the factors of low self-esteem and self-assertion as well as pronounced anger were prominent factors in likely precipitating atypical theft behaviors. In addition, the use of prescribed antidepressants have emerged as likely contributing factors in precipitating such theft behaviors. In fact, the majority of these usually honest persons who  had stolen had been using antidepressants at the time and seven of the 30 clients in the latest study had never stolen until after they began using antidepressants. The likely reasons that antidepressants may help precipitate theft behavior by usually honest adults may well have to do with some of the side effects that the manufacturers of such drugs describe, including increased hostility, aggressivity, disinhibition and self-defeating acting out behaviors.  Certainly, when a usually honest person risks so very much for, often, so very little in monetary terms, by for example shoplifting, such acting out is, of course, potentially very self-defeating. Dr Cupchik provides much more information in his latest book to bolster the argument for the likely unfortunate consequences of the use of prescribed antidepressants by those usually honest persons he has termed Atypical Theft Offenders.