Celebrity chef Anthony Worrall Thompson’s arrest, then caution, about shoplifting from his local Tesco has already increased levels of awareness about the complex reasons why people steal.

In his statement, posted on his website he says he will seek treatment and, in his candid interview with the Daily Express, he says he knows there is more to this than a simple act of petty theft. On one occasion, he says, he paid £180 for three crates of champagne and at the same time nicked £4 of stuff. How ridiculous and how stupid.”

It isn’t ridiculous or stupid. Many people with mental health problems act in a way that puts at risk, or destroys, aspects of their lives that are well-established and seem to be going well: careers or businesses, personal or professional reputations, personal or professional relationships.

These acts of self-sabotage might seem to be trivial; they could be extreme. It doesn’t matter. As Anthony Worrall Thompson’s situation shows, a small theft can be as devastating as engaging in massive fraud. Nor is it important what those acts are: turning up drunk at work, getting into too much debt, missing deadlines, repeated absenteeism, having affairs, and so on. The common factor is that they jeopardise apparently stable and successful situations.

It is the catalysts that are important, the underlying reasons for taking the risk.

Anthony Worrall Thompson has said that he has tried hard to think about why he acted as he did but is unable to come up with a reason. He recognises that self-analysis isn’t working and he is already seeking professional help.

The first step of any form of therapeutic treatment is to find out more about the underlying reasons, asking what the client feels about his or her life in general “and, in particular, what he or she felt just before taking the risky act“ to find out if there were any specific areas of insecurity or dissatisfaction that triggered the behaviour.

Shoplifting is rarely as simple as a desperate need to relieve poverty. Its cause is usually highly complex which is why retailers and police are sensitive in their approach, at least at the first stage.

If you are struggling with self-sabotage and would like therapeutic help, do get in touch. We have therapy rooms in Twickenham, Middlesex, and central London and can be flexible on dates and times. Visit our website to learn more about how we work and the therapies we offer.

 

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