Bibliomania / Bibliokleptomania - A Psychiatric Disorder

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What is Bibliomania?

Bibliomania literally means ‘book madness’. People affected by the disorder have an obsession to collect and hoard books, even though they may not be interested in reading them. The disorder becomes a mental illness when it interferes with the daily living of the individual.

Many people have the habit of collecting interesting objects, some of which may even be weird. However, there are instances where the collection becomes an obsession and converts to hoarding. Hoarding could be for any sort of items, from newspapers to even animals. There have been instances where people who hoard have been found dead along with a heap of garbage.

Bibliomania - A Psychiatric Disorder

People with bibliomania feel the compulsion to collect books though they may not be obsessed with reading. They are uncomfortable with discarding the books. At the same time, they try to hide their obsession from others.
Some people with bibliomania also suffer from bibliokleptomania, which is a tendency to steal books to add to the collection. People suffering from bibliokleptomania often prefer to steal books from libraries where they are less likely to get caught as compared to bookstores.

What are the Causes of Bibliomania?

Bibliomania may have its roots in the past life or childhood of the patient. It is likely that the patient as a child may be attached to books and the fear of losing them. This may be revealed by a detailed interview with the patient.

What are the Symptoms of Bibliomania?

Many of us collect books, but it does not mean that we are suffering from bibliomania. There are particular features that may be suggestive of bibliomania in affected individuals. These include:
  • A habit of acquiring large quantities of books:
    • The books are not related to a topic of interest and there may be multiple copies of the same books
    • The books are not very well arranged but are hoarded in every space possible, including office spaces or vehicles
    • The collection makes the living space unhygienic
  • Usually associated with lack of interest in reading the books
  • Excessive possessiveness about the collection and feeling of distress on a suggestion to give them away.
  • Preoccupation with the obsession and social alienation from others

What are the Possible Complications of Bibliomania?

There are no complications as such of the disorder, however it may prove to be a hazard and lead to complications in daily life of a patient:
  • The patient may trip and fall over the books, which can result in fractures and even make the patient bedridden
  • The pile of books is at a risk of catching fire
  • The cramped and unhealthy living conditions may affect the general health of the patient
  • The social, work and personal life of the person get affected. The person tends to isolate themselves from others.
Complications of Bibliomania - Loneliness

How do you Treat Bibliomania?

Patients with bibliomania may not be aware that they are suffering from a mental illness. They are usually brought in for treatment by others and do not come on their own. Home visits by the therapist are also necessary to understand the exact extent of the condition.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Treatment of bibliomania is mainly via psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy plays an important role in the treatment for bibliomania. In this treatment, the patient is made aware that the condition is a mental problem and is guided with steps to deal with it.
  • Psychotherapy to Treat Bibliomania
  • Medication: Use of antidepressants was found to benefit people with bibliomania.

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