Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cured, all right

We just watched the great Stanley Kubrick movie A Clockwork Orange last night, and today I read in Will Saletan's blog Human Nature that a new drug might "cure the urge to steal." Saletan quotes a report by the University of Minnesota School of Medicine:

An 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of oral naltrexone for kleptomania. Twenty-five individuals with DSM-IV kleptomania were randomized to naltrexone (dosing ranging from 50 mg/day to 150 mg/day) or placebo. ... Subjects assigned to naltrexone had significantly greater reductions in ... stealing urges (p = .032), and stealing behavior (p < .001) compared with subjects on placebo. Subjects assigned to naltrexone also had greater improvement in overall kleptomania severity ... Naltrexone demonstrated statistically significant reductions in stealing urges and behavior in kleptomania.
Saletan adds:
Naltrexone is better known as a drug for alcohol or drug addiction. Many of us, while accepting these addictions as diseases, continue to regard theft as a matter of personal responsibility. Should we rethink that distinction? If the same drug relieves both conditions, should we take kleptomania more seriously as an illness?
As always when I watch that movie, with its soundtrack dominated by a computerized Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, I now have the urge to listen to the real version.


Ahhh... (Those snippets of the Ninth are conducted by the famous conductor Herbert von Karajan. The clip is from the official Naxos YouTube page. Karajan isn't my favorite conductor, by the way -- he's rushing the finale a bit too much for my taste.)