Saturday, April 12, 2014

K: Kleptomaniac (A-Z Blog Challenge: Evocative words)

I think I was an older kid or an earlier teenager when I first heard the word kleptomaniac.

I misheard it and thought is was Keptomaniac. That made sense to me since my parents were talking about a visitor to our home who had stolen some small items of mine. I think they were talking about what to say to the girl's parents and how to get them back. She had Kept my stuff, and I thought she was a Maniac.

Sometime later, I learned the real word. And that it was a real thing. That idea that you could have an uncontrollable compulsion to steal was new to me and fascinating. Even cooler that we had a word for that.

Then I learned there was other "manias." Tons of them in fact. It was almost as fascinating a list as the list of phobias I had been collecting.

Language can be so specific at times. Who knew that we needed a word that means "excessive desire to stay in bed"? (It's clinomania, BTW) I mean, isn't that just called adolescence?

For a while, I thought I wanted to be a psychiatrist because I was so interested in these kinds of words to describe our obsessions, peccadilloes and predilections. But really, I was just in love with words.

I loved how some of these terms seemed so obvious as to be made up on the spot. Scribbleomania: obsession with scribbling? Really?

Others made me feel smart because I recognized the word parts. Xenomania (inordinate attachment to foreign things) and her sister xenophobia (unreasonable fear of foreign things).

A whole lot of the words were about sex in one way or another. Andromania, Cytheromania, Erotomania, and, of course, Nymphomania.

I'm still fascinated, both by the words and the obsessions they describe. All of our messy little quirks formalized in language. I guess that means I made a good choice in writing. I could wallow in this stuff all day.
This post is part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.


  1. I think the best part of learning about all of these obsessions and disorders is the story ideas you get from them. My psychology courses in college were great for brainstorming.

    1. So true! Just pick one and start writing. There's so much in these words!

  2. I like "keptomania" better than kleptomania. It does make more sense!

    Visiting from the A to Z Challenge signup page. Great to meet you!

    Stephanie Faris, author
    30 Days of No Gossip

  3. I love these words too. I love that you thought it was kepto and it does make perfect

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