The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft & Spending

           April 2008 e-Newsletter

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The Hidden Gifts of Foolishness


Terrence Daryl Shulman


Fall 2008 Conference on Compulsive Theft & Spending takes place Saturday September 27, 2008 in Detroit! See or any of our linked websites for information and registration. Also, Mr. Shulman's new book Bought Out and $pent! Recovery from Compulsive $hopping and $pending will be available May 1st! Purchase through Mr. Shulman directly or through any of our linked websites). 

     I dedicate this e-Newsletter to the memory of my father, Robert Solomon Shulman who died April 20, 1993.


Happy April Fools Day! I don't typically make much of this holiday even though I'm a bit of a trickster. Certainly, in my days of addictive stealing and lying I honed my trickery to a tee. But, I have to confess that I suffer at least equally from what I call: SPS--Serious Person Syndrome. I can be a real "stick in the mud." I readily identify with the "curmudgeon" archetype! In addition, over the last year or so, I came to the realization that one of my top core values was "pride." I like to feel proud of myself--my achievements, my accomplishments, my creativity, my humor, my circle of friends, my successes (including losing 15 pounds in the last 5 weeks!) You name it, I like to feel proud. And, of course, I'm particularly proud of my 18 years of recovery and my ability to help others embrace recovery.

Now, the flipside of pride--as I see it--is humiliation. I hate feeling humiliated. How about you? I hate feeling duped like a fool. How about you? No wonder I/we work so hard to build up our pride, huh? It's amazing when I look back on how--in my addiction--I made a virtual career out of duping others. I, was, however, a true fool because i didn't realize how I was really duping myself. Many of us work too hard at avoiding looking like a fool. It's draining and dangerous. It virtually ensures we be humiliated to bring us down to earth. (Elliot Spitzer anyone?) I've also learned there are many ways to be a trickster without really hurting anybody--or myself. Have we lost the art of the practical joke, the prank, good clean fun?

We've all heard it said that the ability to laugh at oneself is a really good quality to hone and I greatly admire it in others. Just the other night, I wrote and sang a song on guitar at a friend's birthday party. I knew she and the other guests would enjoy it--and they did!--and I recognized I did it partly for attention, too. I was a little hard on myself afterwards because I forgot some of the words and flubbed some of the chords (that old perfectionism dies hard!)And, compared to the semi-professional band which also played during my friend's party, I felt musically sophomoric. It was a risk--a calculated risk--to play the song at all. I could have failed miserably or--even pulling it off--been accused of seeking attention. But, I wanted to contribute, and I was willing--on some level--to risk looking like or being judged as "a fool." And I'm glad I did. I recognized on a deeper level, the importance of risk, even in the smaller things I/we do.

So, what is the definition of a "fool"? Consider the following:

  1. One who is deficient in judgment, sense, or understanding.
  2. One who acts unwisely on a given occasion: I was a fool to have quit my job.
  3. One who has been tricked or made to appear ridiculous; a dupe: They made a fool of me by pretending I had won.
  4. Informal. A person with a talent or enthusiasm for a certain activity: a dancing fool; a fool for skiing.
  5. A member of a royal or noble household who provided entertainment, as with jokes or antics; a jester.
  6. One who subverts convention or orthodoxy or varies from social conformity in order to reveal spiritual or moral truth: a holy fool.
  7. A dessert made of stewed or puréed fruit mixed with cream or custard and served cold.
  8. Archaic. A mentally deficient person; an idiot.

I like these definitions and have, at times, fit most of them! Remember, "shame" stands for S.H.A.M.E. (Should Have Already Mastered Everything). There's true liberation in being a fool--sometimes, at least. Imagine: not taking life so seriously; not being so afraid to make mistakes; not worrying what others think of you; being able to laugh at oneself; actively accumulating wisdom.  I remember feeling like a fool in 2001 because I quit my job and things took a while to manifest in my life. But they did eventually! I certainly would have done some things differently but I've learned from this. Putting on another conference this year, writing another book. These are all risks. Are we afraid to risk because of looking like a fool? If so, what is the cost of that? Maybe it's not so bad to be a fool.


April Fools Day is upon us. It got me thinking--maybe for the first time--the actual history of the holiday. Here's some of what I found on the Internet (and, believe me, there's a lot there!):

April Fools' Day, sometimes called All Fools' Day, is one of the most light hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

New Year's Day Moves

Ancient cultures, including those as varied as the Romans and the Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.) In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year's day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.

Problems With This Explanation

There are at least two difficulties with this explanation. The first is that it doesn't fully account for the spread of April Fools' Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752, for example, but April Fools' Day was already well established there by that point. The second is that we have no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture, and that conjecture appears to have been made more recently.

Constantine and Kugel

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools' Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

"In a way," explained Prof. Boskin, "it was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor."

This explanation was brought to the public's attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they'd been victims of an April Fools' joke themselves.

Spring Fever

It is worth noting that many different cultures have had days of foolishness around the start of April, give or take a couple of weeks. The Romans had a festival named Hilaria on March 25, rejoicing in the resurrection of Attis. The Hindu calendar has Holi, and the Jewish calendar has Purim. Perhaps there's something about the time of year, with its turn from winter to spring, that lends itself to lighthearted celebrations.

Observances Around the World

April Fools' Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include sending someone on a "fool's errand," looking for things that don't exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.

The French call April 1 Poisson d'Avril, or "April Fish." French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying "Poisson d'Avril" when the prank is discovered.


Have you made a fool of yourself lately? When was the last time?  What's the possible gain? Maybe it's okay to risk!



A shopping trip has put Winona Ryder in the news again recently.

The 36-year-old actress was spotted leaving a Hollywood store with make-up on her that she hadn't paid for, according to a US report.

Actress Winona made headlines six years ago, when at the peak of her career she was convicted of shoplifting $2,000 worth of clothing from a Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.

Now in a new incident, according to America's National Enquirer magazine, the Girl Interrupted star recently set off the security alarm at Hollywood CVC Pharmacy after making several purchases.

According to the publication, when she left the store, she set off an alarm that drew the attention of a security guard.

A store employee is quoted as saying: "Winona had a bag of stuff, but she set off the theft alarm when she left the store.

"When a security guard stopped her, he found make-up she had not paid for."

And when she was asked about the make-up, Winona answered: "I don't know how that happened."

The store employee added: "We took unpaid items back and she left the store."

Winona's publicist at first denied the incident took place. But when told a store employee had confirmed it, said she would check with her again.

In Winona's past shoplifting scandal back in 2002, she claimed as part of her defence that she stole from a Beverly Hills store to prepare for a film role.

But the court found her guilty, and she was sentenced to three years probation and 480 hours of community service.


OPRAH WINFREY/ECKHART TOLLE free live (and downloadable) weekly web-seminars Monday evenings from 9-10:30pm EST at based upon Tolle's new book "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose."


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Fall 2008 Conference on Compulsive Theft & Spending takes place Saturday September 27, 2008 in Detroit! See our website for info and registration. Also, Mr. Shulman's new book Bought Out and $pent! Recovery from Compulsive $hopping and $pending will be available May 1, 2008 and may be purchased through Mr. Shulman directly or through any of our websites.


Mr. Shulman continues to assist with a documentary on American excess called "American Dream: The Movie"

Mr. Shulman will be featured in a 2009 book on recovery in the USA called "America Anonymous" by Benoit-Denizen Lewis.

Mr. Shulman will be featured in a short article about shoplifting in New York-based Time Out! magazine.

Mr. Shulman will be a guest expert on compulsive shopping on The Maury Povich Show in April.


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Contact The Shulman Center

Terrence Shulman
P.O. Box 250008
Franklin, Michigan 48025


Call (248) 358-8508 for free consulation!

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Products for Purchase--SALE!

Mr. Shulman's 75 Minute DVD Power Point Presentation on Employee Theft at Livonia, Michigan Financial Manager's Conference 10/19/06. $75.00

Mr. Shulman's 75 Minute DVD Power Point Presentation on Employee Theft at Louisville, Kentucky Business in Industry Conference 9/19/07. $75.00

Mr. Shulman's two books "Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction & Recovery" and "Biting The Hand That Feeds: The Employee Theft Epidemic... New Perspectives, New Solutions" are availabe for $25.00 each (includes shipping/handling) or both for $45.00 (includes shipping/handling).

Mr. Shulman's 90 minute DVD Power Point presentation for young people: "Theft and Dishonesty Awareness Program." $75.00

Mr. Shulman's 33 minute psycho-educational DVD: "The Disease of Something for Nothing: Shoplifting and Employee Theft." $50.00

First International Conference on Theft Addictions & Disorders 4 DVD set (13 Hours). Recorded 10/05. $125.00


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