Drs: Kleptomania Cost Doctor Her License? + Compulsion To Steal


The Doctors: Doctor Claims License Revoked Because Of Kleptomania

There are many reasons a doctor could lose their license, but what about a reason caused by something medical? Alla has been a doctor for 34 years and in her early twenties she was diagnosed with an eating disorder, bulimia. It took over her life, and when she was 31-years-old, she suddenly felt an overwhelming compulsion to steal food. She recognized that the stealing was a reach out for help. She remembered feeling such a high when she would steal food, that she began doing it more often, until she was stealing several times a day.


Over the next few years, no matter what she did, she couldn’t stop. She was in and out of rehab programs, but she would relapse every time. Each time she was arrested, the California Medical Board and court would make her punishment harsher and harsher. In 2012, she was arrested and sent to jail, where she stayed for a almost a month. While she was in jail, she “bottomed out” saying it ruined her life. Since then, she hasn’t stolen anything, but her eating disorder has gotten worse. The medical board revoked her license, and Alla said she wants people to know “I am a kleptomaniac but I am not a thief.”

Drs: Kleptomania Cost Doctor Her License? + Compulsion To Steal

A woman spoke to The Doctors about why she believes she got her medical license revoked, although the California Medical Board said differently. (sbconsci / Flickr)


The Doctors: What Is Kleptomania & How Is It Treated?

Psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser explained that kleptomania is an impulse control disorder, where the person literally cannot control their emotions or behaviors in that moment. They feel a compulsion to steal things they don’t even need or want, and then experience a sense of relief right after, only to feel remorse later on. Kleptomania is typically treated with a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Dr Travis Stork explained that the cited reason the California Medical Board didn’t reinstate Alla’s license was because of failure to comply with weekly psychotherapy requirements, failure to submit quarterly probation reports, and failure to notify the medical board of return to medicine, not kleptomania.

Dr Stork stated that he believes practicing medicine is a privilege. Attorney Areva Martin explained that the medical board’s purpose is to make sure that a doctor is in good standing, which means that if they put rules in place that Alla needed to follow in order to have her license, she had to follow them. Alla responded saying their claims are false, and “all you have to do is ask my probation officer.” She called it an “error on their part.”

The Doctors: Why Medical Board Revoked Doctor’s License

The medical board claimed they had a second psychiatrist who said Alla didn’t meet treatment requirements and advised against giving her, her license. Dr Stork recognized that there were two sides to the story, and said he didn’t know what to believe. The medical board stated “the Medical Board of California’s primary goal is consumer protection. The board wherever possible will take action that aids in a physician’s rehabilitation and if we feel a physician can safely continue to practice while being monitored with terms and conditions we will allow them to do so under probation. Unfortunately, in Dr Zander’s case, she failed probation more than once indicating that it was unsafe for us to allow her to continue to practice, which is why her license was revoked.”

Where do you stand? Do you think Alla should have had her license revoked?


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