The Shulman Center 1


    Greetings from The Shulman Center!

Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding Newsletter 

August 2013 -- Happy Dog Days of Summer!


   Serving People 
Since 1992!



Quotes of the Month: 


I raise my voice not so I can shout but so those without a voice can be heard.  Malala Yousafza

(16 year old Pakastani girl who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, speaking to the United Nations).


Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well. --George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones 


Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.

Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.

Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.

Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.
Yoko Ono



Stats/Facts of the Month


North Americans spent $4 billion a year on impulse buys (1998 study).


Nearly 3 in 4 American smartphone users surveyed said they are within five feet of their devices the majority of the time. 


More than a third said they use their device at movie theaters and 12% said they even use it while in the shower.


1 in 10 users, or 9% of respondents, said they have even used their smartphone during sex.


The number of adults using their smartphones during sex rises to 1 in 5 when looking only at the 18-to-34 age group.


(2013 Mobile Consumer Habits study) 


For the fifth year in a row, money is the most common source of stress for Americans. --

American Psychological



Only 13 states out of 50 (or 25 percent of the U.S. population) require students to take a personal finance course as a high school graduation requirement.



Person of the Month
Trayvon Martin 


Regardless of what you think of Trayvon Martin, his death, or the recent jury verdict acquitting Defendant George Zimmerman of any wrongdoing in Martin's death, most people had strong opinions about this case and its outcome. The case touched upon the use of guns, race, politics, and the legal system itself. 


Most people, I assume, would at least admit this case was a tragedy or a tragic mistake.


So, what, if anything, can we take away from it? As President Obama strongly urged, it's important to keep a dialogue going about the issues this case evoked: race, guns, the justice system. If there are any ways we can prevent this kind of situation from occurring again, let's do it. 



Books of the Month:


Lying, Cheating, and Stealing: A Moral Theory of White-Collar Crime

by Stuart P. Green



13 Ways to Steal a Bicycle: Theft Law in the Information Age

by Stuart P. Green




These two densely-written, scholarly books by British author Stuart P. Green are difficult to plow through but well worth it if you're at all interested in both the individual and collective phenomena of theft and dishonesty in the modern world.


Lying, Cheating and Stealing defines white-collar crime and tracks its genesis over time. It distinguishes moral and legal wrongdoing and where they overlap. It covers the following acts: cheating, stealing, deception, coercion and exploitation, disloyalty, promise-breaking, fraud perjury, disobedience, false statements, bribery extortion, blackmail, insider trading, tax fraud, obstruction of justice, and regulatory offenses. Whew!


Is it any wonder that the author can come up with 13 Ways to Steal a Bicycle in his second book--which focuses more on why people steal and how creatively they do so and rationalize it, especially in this digital age where much theft is down over the Internet.


One would have reason for alarm and even a bit of hopelessness at the amount and degree of theft going on across the globe, especially among those assumed to be well-educated and otherwise ethical. But it's better to know what we're all facing in order to meet the challenges that lie ahead. There's plenty of interesting stories that serve as cautionary tales as well.



Film of the Month:

Actually, TV Series

of the Month:

Web Therapy

Tuesdays 10pm EDT

on Showtime


For any who love to laugh, this is the third season on Web Therapy, co-created and starring actress Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe from the hit series "Friends") about a California therapist who offers her counseling over the Internet through Skype. 


Ms. Kudrow is a master at creating characters who are so clueless, inappropriate and full of themselves that you want to cringe. It's like watching "The Office" or "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and, like those shows, Web Therapy offers an endless stream of cameo characters by famous actors, including Steve Carrell in this season's kick-off last week.


More and more therapists (and others) are offering their services virtually these days. As someone who has offered therapy by Skype for over five years now, I particularly enjoy watching the distinct tone and rhythm of web-based therapy.


Check it out!

The Shulman Center on the move and in the news...  


August 2013--Mr. Shulman is quoted in an article about shopping addiction in older adults on the website:


October 2013--Mr. Shulman will have an article about honesty in the workplace in the Jack Hayes International quarterly newsletter. 


October 2, 2013--Mr. Shulman will be have a booth at the Annual Royal Oak, MI Health Fair. 


October 7-9, 2013--Mr. Shulman presents on employee theft at The 3rd Annual Lifestyle Intervention Conference in Las Vegas.


October 27, 2013--Mr. Shulman will be presenting 2 all-day seminars on compulsive theft, spending and hoarding at Jewish Family Services in West Bloomfield, MI.


November 2013--Date TBA--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on hoarding disorder at the Franklin Public Library Franklin, MI.


May 14, 2014--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on hoarding disorder to the Oakland County (Michigan) Employee Wellness Program. 




NOTE: If you're a therapist, please consider contacting us to enroll in our brief, affordable local or virtual training to become more proficient at assessing and treating compulsive stealing, spending and/or hoarding disorders. See Training


A recent testimonial from July 2013: 


"Thanks to Terry's help I feel confident that I can now provide 

effective treatment for compulsive spending. I'm glad 

I consulted with him early in my career."

Zac Rhodenizer, M.Ed.
Alberta, Canada 


Opportunity to Assist in Forthcoming 

Cable TV Series on Criminal Addictions


I recently talked by phone with a representative from Indigo Films which is developing a new series for the Discovery Network titled "My Strange Criminal Addiction." This is what I was told:


"The program features real life stories of people who find themselves caught up in the justice system because of their unusual addictions, compulsions or unconventional lifestyle choices. While the title sounds a bit sensational, it's simply meant to grab viewer's attention. This series does not criminalize or judge people, but rather gives them a chance to tell their side of the story outside of a court room and without commentary from the news media. It is particularly interested in the psychological aspect of this issue. It will also focus on people's efforts to rehabilitate themselves.


"Over the years, Indigo Films has produced a wide range of top rated programs for Discovery and other networks. Indigo Films prides itself in allowing people to tell their own stories in their own words and thereby helping the audience to better understand and even empathize with others. While this may be an emotionally difficult experience to re-live, many of our former participants have found participating in an on camera interview to be a highly rewarding experience. For those concerned with privacy, Indigo Films is open to the idea of allowing people to use an alias on a case by case basis and is also considering some form of compensation for those who appear on the program."


Those interested can contact Amanda Clayton at Indigo Films either at 415-326-4919 or


I put out the word already to various people and I may be involved in this project in some way--either interviewed as a therapist who works with people who've stolen or maybe even as a subject myself since I've been in recovery since 1990 from addictive-compulsive shoplifting and stealing. 


Regardless of whether this project goes forward or I'm involved at all, I find it very encouraging that major film company (and, assumedly, a major cable network) is thinking about criminal activity as becoming an addiction in itself. Stay tuned!




Tom Lietaert of Sacred Odyssey and the Intimacy with Money programs offers individual money coaching as well as various group workshops on money. Check out Tom's two websites at:



My Hometown Detroit Files for Bankruptcy:

An Isolated Incident or a Sign of the Times?


Most have by now heard that Detroit recently filed for Chapter 9 Municipal Bankruptcy, listing some $18 billion in liabilities, including nearly $4 billion in pensions due to its employees, with no real way to pay much of this debt anytime soon. Earlier this year, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed an Emergency Financial Manager for the city, Kevin Orr, to see if he could help Detroit avoid the bankruptcy filing. Apparently not. There are legal hurdles to come, including a county judge who already ruled that the bankruptcy filing violated the state's constitution, and the many creditors and pensioners who will fight vigorously for what they feel owed. Detroit isn't the first U.S. city to file for bankruptcy but it is the largest--even though its population has dropped by over 50% from 1.4 million residents to about 700,000 in just a couple decades. 


Personally, I grew up in Detroit until I left for college at age 18 in 1983 and have lived in the suburbs mostly since. I feel sad, embarrassed and concerned for "my city" and its image. There are various opinions about how Detroit got to this place. It's safe and fair to say that there has been intermittent mismanagement for decades but, certainly, the economic recession over the last five years exacerbated and hastened its financial misfortunes.


While there are parallels between individual, family, and corporate bankruptcies (where, also, a combination of bad decisions and bad luck often come into play), what's more alarming is the general and overall trend of more and more bankruptcies filed. Something is going on! We are not living according to our means, individually and collectively. We are living in a changing world in terms of the job market, the stock market's security (despite a record high), and the promise of the American Dream. 


I know it's complex. Some would say drastic cut-backs are the only way to balance a budget--but some budgets are too far gone. Also, whether with a family, a corporation, or a city--it's easier said than done to just cut to the bone of a budget. It's become a relatively sad truth that many have to borrow to keep essential services going and investment in the future for a better day. 


Detroit may be a cautionary tale for many other cities, though it does appear that some cities, such as Pittsburgh, managed to pull itself up despite facing similar financial woes. Likewise, Ford Motor Company didn't need a government bailout as GM and Chrysler did. Every situation may be different. I only hope that, whatever happens with Detroit, that the city, its residents and those who work and believe in Detroit can get "a second chance" just like others who file for bankruptcy are afforded. I hope we make the most of it and don't ever fall into this mess again.



Recent Stories in the News on Compulsive Shopping


There were two good recent stories highlighting compulsive shopping recently. The first was in USA Today's Sunday newspaper supplement. See: USA Today


There was also a great 1-hour radio interview about how shopping addiction affects families on National Public Radio on July 15th at: WHYY


Here's some highlights of the USA Today Article by Jeff Wuorio:


For Brittany Falconer, a new jacket is often a matter of circumstance and a bit of time. Need isn't always part of the equation.


"I'll stop in because I'm passing by a store, I have some time, and suddenly I've bought another Cole Haan jacket I really don't need," says Falconer, 25, a public relations account executive from Brookline, Mass. "It's the 'compare to' price. Even though the jacket I bought cost $150, the would-be price was $300. I feel like I come out on top."


That sort of illogical impulse buying isn't limited to younger consumers. One 82-year-old woman spent $1,200 buying books, vitamins, clothing and jewelry - all within 24 hours, all online and all completely unnecessary.


Impulse shopping statistics are dated but disturbing. A 1998 study estimated North Americans spent more than $4 billion a year on impulse buys. In the absence of more current research, some analysts contend that price increases and other impulse-friendly developments (ATMs, the Internet) easily push impulse shopping into an annual $5 billion-plus consumer bash. Possibly much larger than that.


Individual consequences can sting, from strained relationships to money funneled from mortgages to overloaded credit cards.


"It's become a major issue for all sorts of people," says Tonia Boterf, a certified life coach who worked with that impulsive 82-year-old to rein in her binges.


What's behind the impulse?


The causes of impulse shopping are varied and sometimes complicated. For some, it simply feels good - perhaps acquiring a status product boosts self-esteem. For others, it offsets depression or anger. Still others, like Falconer, revel in the thrill of the "deal."


Studies have shown that when someone considers a purchase, a biochemical change occurs, which causes a mental high. "There's a spike of dopamine in the brain at the excitement of an immediate form of reward," explains David Krueger, author of The Secret Language of Money: How to Make Smarter Financial Decisions and Live a Richer Life. "It makes bad decision-making easy."


That can set things in motion. Discouraged you didn't get a promotion? Even though an impulse buy high may be short-lived (which often leads to buyer's remorse when the thrill fades), you remember the rush you felt when you lugged that 42-inch HD TV home a year ago. There are sweet models an aisle away at 10% off and 10 inches wider - today only and $75 less than you paid for your first one!


An increasing pattern of impulse buying can evolve into compulsive buying, which, as New York psychologist April Benson explains, can be more chronic, more difficult to resist and more financially destructive.


Social factors are powerful, too. When you're out with a group of friends on a shopping odyssey, buying something can earn implicit approval for "treating" yourself.


A shopping outing with children can be an impulse shopping gauntlet. When your kid starts howling over a toy or cereal, tossing it into the cart unplugs a public tantrum.

 "Kids and shopping are parents' weakest link," consumer activist Christopher Elliott says. "Retailers know that if they get your kids, they get you."


Retailers, marketers and others have crafted impulse shopping lures into insidious sales weapons. It's not happenstance that sugary snacks are positioned at kids' eye level or that milk, eggs and other staples are generally at the back of the store, requiring a trip along an array of temptation-laden lanes. A $300 suit inches away from an outfit twice that price seems a crafty buy. The fact that you don't need a new suit is irrelevant.


There are other selling tricks. It's a rare grocery store that doesn't have at least one free sample set up. "They're trying to portray a carnival-like atmosphere," says Kristy Reynolds, a marketing professor at the University of Alabama. "Treasures" are also pervasive - items with a brief availability and touted low price. The message is clear: Buy now or lose out.


Internet shopping has opened destructive new venues for impulse shoppers. As Boterf notes, an increasingly computer-savvy population has made impulse shopping the social activity of choice for many - and particularly dangerous for people on limited, fixed incomes.


"Many older people feel isolated. There may be mobility issues. If they order online or telephone a catalog company, it's a form of social contact," Boterf says. "Then they hide things they buy in a closet and hope their son or daughter doesn't find them. Sometimes, the packages are never opened at all."



Praise or Criticism: Which is Better?

by Charles Duhigg, NY Times


When I.B.M.'s chief executive, Virginia Rometty, announced disappointing financial results earlier this year, she also sent employees a short video chastising the sales staff for missing big deals. "We were too slow," Rometty told the company's 434,000 employees. "The result? It didn't get done."


A CEO chiding employees is unusual enough that it caused a press maelstrom. The Wall Street Journal called it a "rare companywide reprimand." Others cited it as proof that she wasdestined to fail.


All of which raises an interesting question: is it better for a chief executive to deliver criticism or praise? Everyone is familiar with the praiseful part of that equation: most CEOs are cheerleaders because - the theory goes - a motivated workforce is willing to work harder and longer.


And yet, we also know that fear of failure is one of the greatest motivators - and that failure is only real when it is accompanied by consequences like getting dressed down in front of 433,999 of your peers.


There isn't a lot of data on the reprimand-versus-praise question within workplaces. But inside classrooms, the topic has been studied extensively. One of the most authoritative studies on the topic, published in 2012, concluded:


"Reprimand and negative nonverbal responses consistently resulted in greater compliance. Praise and positive nonverbal responses resulted in mixed child outcomes. ... The effect of praise appears to be less immediate than the effect of reprimand, as evidenced by the lack of a consistent connection between praise and compliance in the literature."


In other words, we love to receive praise, but usually we're not certain what message, precisely, we should take from it. On the other hand, when someone points out our flaws, we realize immediately that something needs to change.


There's a twist to these studies, however: simply knowing that something is wrong isn't enough. For the message to resonate, we need to know what to do differently. Studies indicate that praise loses its power because we tend to get caught up in self-congratulations, and therefore miss whatever is said next. On the other hand, criticism is fantastic at causing us to pay close attention. Therefore, reprimands have to be paired with specific next steps.


And that's what Rometty did. Here's her slap-down of the sales staff:


"We were too slow to understand the value and then engage on the approval and the sign-off process," she said. "The result? It didn't get done."


Then, she revealed a new rule: If a client had a request or question, IBM must respond within 24 hours.


"And if anything slows you down, call it out," she urged. "Engage management, engage leadership, and let's deal with it."


In other words, feel free to get critical on your own and start handing out your own reprimands.


How do you lead? How do you mix praise and criticism? How do you react when someone tells you that you need to change?



Honesty is its own reward.--Anonymous


Walk in peace.



The Shulman Center 2013 Events Calendar 


Ongoing ...


The Baton Rouge, Louisiana court system has a court-ordered, facilitated educational program for retail fraud offenders. The program is based on material from Mr. Shulman's book Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery.


Mr. Shulman created a 1-hour employee theft online course with360 Training. Learn why people steal from their jobs, how to deter it, prevent it, and what to do when confronted with it. Enroll at:


Mr. Shulman created an online continuing education course on compulsive shopping and spending called Bought Out and $pent! based on his book and Power Point presentation. The course, CEs offered, through The American Psychotherapy Association. at:





Tom Lietaert of Sacred Odyssey and the Intimacy with Money programs offers individual money coaching as well as various group workshops on money. Check out Tom's two websites at: /



Gary Zeune of Columbus, Ohio has been a friend and colleague of mine for nearly two years. He has been a consultant and teacher on fraud discovery and prevention for nearly 30 years. He is interviewed in my book Cluttered Lives, Empty Souls: Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding. I recently saw Gary in action recently when he presented an all-day on fraud to metro-Detroit accountants. See:




If you're a therapist and wish to be trained & certified in the assessment/treatment of compulsive theft, spending and/or hoarding, CONTACT THE SHULMAN CENTER NOW! See:



I recently was told about a website resource that lists strategies for cleaning and de-cluttering and sells various books and products that help with this; so, I'm passing it along... See:




Mr. Shulman's books

available for purchase now!




Something for Nothing: 

Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery (2003) 

See also:






Biting The Hand That Feeds 

Biting The Hand That Feeds:

The Employee Theft Epidemic... New Perspectives, New Solutions (2005) 

See also:





Bought Out and Spent 

Bought Out and $pent! 

Recovery from Compulsive $hopping/$pending (2008) 

See also:





CLES cover 

Cluttered Lives, Empty Souls: 

Compulsive Stealing, Spending and Hoarding (2011) 

See also:




Contact The Shulman Center:


Terrence Daryl Shulman, JD, LMSW, ACSW, CAADC, CPC  


The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding


P.O. Box 250008 

Franklin, Michigan 48025




Call (248) 358-8508 for a free consultation!



Our Web Sites:

The Shulman Center

Shoplifting Addictions

Kleptomaniacs Anonymous

Something For Nothing

Shopping Addictions 

Shopaholics Anonymous

Bought Out and Spent 

Employee Theft Solutions

Biting the Hand that Feeds

Hoarding Therapy

Hoarders Anonymous


Books by Terrence Shulman: 


Something for Nothing:Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery

Biting The Hand That Feeds:The Employee Theft Epidemic

Bought Out and $pent! Recovery from Compulsive $hopping and $pending

Cluttered Lives Empty Souls: Compulsive StealingSpending and Hoarding


All book are available for $25.00 each (includes shipping and handling).