The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft & Spending

            July 2007 e-Newsletter

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Mr. Shulman recently completed a 14-week teleconference training with Dr. April Benson, of New York City, based on her pioneering program for compulsive shoppers and spenders "Stopping Overshopping."



Is Our Independence Costing Us Our Freedom?

By Terrence Daryl Shulman


The 4th of July Holiday is upon us. A time for reflection on independence and freedom. For many or most, this opportunity will be marked by bar-b-ques, a day off work, time with family and friends, drinking, eating, shopping. While I’m likely to engage in more of the same, I’m also trying to take a moment to consider the deeper meaning of both independence and freedom. One of the first thoughts that came to my mind is how independence can be both a gift and a trap. I thought about how the “go it on our own” mentality of politics often leads to isolation and chaos rather than co-operation, unity and order. I’ve thought about my own patterns of fierce independence which have kept me stubborn and stuck at times, afraid to ask for help as if to become “dependent,” weak, or needy. I’m reminded that there’s a middle ground between independent and dependent: it’s called “inter-dependence.” In personal relationships as in relationships between nations, perhaps it’s the most healthy and realistic way to operate. “No man is an island.” And no nation either. We are all inter-connected.


Now, nobody likes being a slave or under the thumb of anyone. One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling trapped or unfree—which prompts me to consider the deeper meaning of “freedom.” Is freedom an external reality or an internal reality? Is freedom, ultimately, a state of mind? I’m thinking of Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for 25 years—much of it in solitary confinement. Yet, it seems that he was able to keep his dignity and his mind “free” to a large extent. I’m thinking of Professor Stephen Hawking whose body is confined to a wheelchair with advanced ALS. While he recently experienced the euphoria of weightlessness in a zero-gravity capsule, he never struck me as anyone stuck in the victim mode of his own dire physical condition. On the contrary, he used and expanded his own mind for the benefit of others.


“Freedom’s just another word for ‘nothing left to lose.’” This memorable line from Janis Joplin’s song may mean many things to many people and may be more of a Zen Koan in the end. Does the line imply that we must lose everything in order to be free? Does it call upon us to take risks even if we don’t get what we want, we experience freedom itself in the taking of the risk? Does it mean I can just do whatever I want? What’s your definition of freedom?


I know I still fall too easily into the mindset of thinking: “I’ll be free when…” I’ll be free when I have a million dollars. I’ll be free when my wife stops “nagging me.” I’ll be free when I don’t have to work anymore. I’ll be free when my back doesn’t hurt and stiffen. I’ll be free when I move to California. I’ll be free when I let go of my anger. I’ll be free when I cure my addictions once and for all. I’ll be free when I move to a deserted island. I’ll be free when I don’t have any bills or responsibilities. I’ll be free when I stop chasing freedom…


I’m going to do my best to be happy that I live in a country that, despite its room for improvement, allows me largely the freedom and independence to shape my own life. I am the ultimate creator of my own freedom. I am also responsible for my own thinking and my own life. If I don’t like it, I have the freedom to change it. If I need help doing so, I have the freedom to seek out help. I also have the freedom to do nothing. As for independence, while I often fantasize about needing nobody and nobody needing me, that is not real freedom or real joy when I think about it. Relationships enrich my life. Responsibilities enrich my life. Sure, I don’t want to overdo it, but I do see the value in inter-dependence as the goal and the destination.


So, while I’m enjoying my 4th of July vacation on the lake with my wife and family and friends, I’m hoping to do my best to maintain the awareness of deeper, profound freedom and independence that transcends the national and encompasses the universal. Ultimately, I get to say if I’m free or not. Perhaps, that’s the greatest form of self-autonomy and independence.



The Secret’s Not A Secret Anymore

By Terry Shulman May 2007 (poem and song)


There’s a mystery that’s baffled us

For several thousand years

We’ve read parchment text, fought bloody wars

Shed oceans of our tears

We’ve paid therapists, read self-help books

Done workshops in the nude

But if you still seek happiness

You’re in luck, here’s your last clue:


It’s so simple it’s been hidden

Right before our very eyes

It’s been known by those among us

Who are the wisest of the wise

All you need to do is ask and

You shall soon receive

Just send in $40 

And then watch the DVD



The Secret’s not a secret anymore

The Secret’s not a secret anymore

So when you’re feelin’ down and out

Just open your mind’s door

The Secret’s not a secret anymore


Now Abraham (and Issac) had been

Teaching it for long

Jesus and the Buddha suffered

For us to be strong

Stan Dale and his angels

Have known it all along

But until you’ve been on Oprah

Everything you’ve known is wrong



(Musical interlude)

Now Rhonda Byrne’s a genius

It’s hard to disagree

But who’d have thought that our new Prophet

Produced Reality TV?

It’s the message not the messenger

I guess we must all choose to see

And if your wishes don’t come true

Wait for “The Secret” Parts 2 and 3!


CHORUS: Repeat twice

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2007 Conference on Compulsive Shopping and Shoplifting tentatively set for Saturday November 3, 2007 in New York City. Details to follow! Please e-mail us if you're interested.


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Women's Entertainment Channel's "Secret Lives of Women" shoplifting segment airs Tuesday July 10, 2007!


Media items from June 2007:

June 12th: Retirement Living Cable TV aired a one hour segment on older adults and addictions for which Mr. Shulman was interviewed.

June 16th: Detroit Free Press Twist Magazine article on Compulsive Shopping and Spending featuring Mr. Shulman

June 15th: Mr. Shulman will be co-presenting at the Michigan Counseling Association's Metro-Detroit mid-Summer conference on addictive and compulsive behaviors.

Upcoming Media Items for July 2007:

July issue of Psychotherapy Networker Magazine features an article by Mr. Shulman on compulsive shoplifting and employee theft.

Chicago area Elburn Herald newspaper storey about people who steal from restaurants, featuring quotes from Mr. Shulman


September 19th: Mr. Shulman will be the keynote speaker in Louisville, KY at the Annual Kentucky Certified Public Accountants conference. He will be speaking about employee theft and why it occurs and how to deter and prevent it.

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Now Available!

*Available on DVD or CD: My 90-minute presentation on theft addictions and disorders at the 2006 Michigan Social Workers Annual Conference. $90 for the DVD, $25 for the CD or $100 for both;

*Available on DVD: My hour-long presentation on theft addictions and disorders from Brighton Hospital September 7, 2006: $60.00;

*Available on DVD: My 75 minute-long presentation on employee theft at The Michigan Financial Managers Conference on October 19, 2006: $75.00;

*Available: My two hour-long presentation on theft addictions and disorders at the Birmingham Community House November 9, 2006: $100.00;

*Available: My two hour-long presentation on theft addictions and disorders at the San Fernando Valley Employee Assistance Meeting on October 27, 2006: $100.00; and

*Available: 13 Hours (4 DVDs) of The First International Conference on Theft Addictions & Disorders in Detroit 2005: $200.00; 12 CD's $120.00; DVD's and CD's $300.00.

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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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© 2007 The Shulman Center

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