The Shulman Center

Terrence Shulman
Founder/Director of
The Shulman Center

Terry Shulman

July 2009 Monthly e-Newsletter

Summer Selections
Bits 'n Pieces in The News

by Terrence Daryl Shulman


Although Winona never actually plead guilty to shoplifting, a jury found her guily back in 2001. It never felt odd to me that she likely shoplifted as I know shoplifting usually has little to do with money or a lack of it. I could only imagine what underlying issues Ms. Ryder had which could relate to her stealing. Well, now we may have a few more clues. Here is an excerpt from a recent news piece...

Winona Ryder can't sleep, says Simon Braud in Empire. "I come from a long line of insomniacs," says the 37-year old actress. On most nights she'll rattle around her home in Los Angeles; sometimes, to break the boredom, she'll get on the phone to fellow insomniac Al Pacino. "When you find someone you have that in common with, especially an actor, it's a great bonding experience." To find out what was keeping her up, she once went to a neurologist in New York. "He said, 'Look at your life. It's so strange. People stare at you, strangers know who you are, you pretend to be other people for a living. It's normal that you get anxious as times, that you're an insomniac." Being an actress, though, is only one reason for her sleeplessness. "As soon as I told him I was an insomniac, he asked me if I was of Russian Jewish descent." Indeed, she is; Ryder is very conscious of the fact that some of her relatives died in the Holocaust. When she does fall asleep, she often has a recurring dream of being trapped in a concentration camp. "He told me that something like 90 percent of insomniacs he treats are of Russian Jewish descent. He basically said, "You people have been freaked out for so long, it's no wonder you can't sleep!"

Commentary: If Ms. Ryder has been having chronic sleeping problems and recurrent nightmares about losing relatives in the Holocaust none of this would, of course, excuse her shoplifting behavior in the past (or in the present or future). But it does give one some possible insights into her tortured or conflicted soul. In both research and in my clinical work with hundreds of shoplifters since 1992, sleep disturbances and unresolved losses are quite common and prevalent. Of course, many sleep disturbances manifest as a result of one's guilt and worries over one's stealing, too. But the Winona article is important if only to slow down the train of judgment many tend to have over people who steal. Again, it doesn't excuse it but we often think from the outside that a person has a perfect life when we really don't know what demons they face.

Shoplifting often is a cry for help. One can only hope that in Ms. Ryder's seeking help for insomnia that her therapists think enough to help her connect the dots to her shoplifting behavior.



I was a fan of Michael Jackson's music and also sensed he was a man constantly searching for love. It is no secret that he grew up very young and may have been trying to recapture his youth through his spending, his connection to children, and his numerous cosmetic surgeries. It is also fairly well-known that he was the product of both physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his father. Thus, as with many of us, Michael Jackson's life exhibited both brilliance and the insanity--a life of contradictions, too.

No disrespect intended toward the late King of Pop, but besides rumors of prescription drug abuse there is more clear evidence that Michael Jackson was a compulsive shopper and spender. Reports estimate that he was $400 Million to $500 Million in debt. Besides his extravagent Neverland Estate which, essentially, foreclosed, who could forget Michael on his televised multi-million dollar shopping spree in Las Vegas back in 2003? Upon news of his death it was revealed that he was living in a rented house near Los Angeles. Even his planned London concerts later this year were only expected to net him $50 Million. He likely would be forced to declare bankruptcy eventually.

Of course, we tend to look at evidence of his spending and the fact of his debt as either plain eccentric or just poor money management. What if Michael was actually an undiagnosed and untreated compulsive shopper/spender? Certainly, he fit the somewhat typical mold: he came from abuse, he grew up too young, he had an unstable sense of self, he had pressures to succeed and keep succeeding, and he longed for inner peace and happiness. Further, not only did he have to keep up with the Joneses, he was the Joneses.

As with Winona Ryder, many might feel confused about why someone with so much going for him might abuse children, undergo radical cosmetic surgeries, abuse prescription pills, or spend himself nearly into the poor house. Others may feel judgemental toward him as if he had no reason to act in such ways. Again, we never know what struggles people go through. Famous persons, especially, often experience the added burdens and pressures of life which include limited privacy, a distorted sense of self, increased grandiosity and invincibility, and a growing sense of entitlement and belief that the rules of life don't apply to them.

It takes a very grounded person to stay sane in the midst of the world of celebrity. Few seem to be able to manage this without either bumps or major falls along the way.



Bernard Madoff was sentenced recently to 150 years in prison for his role as lead architect in a fraudulent Ponzi scheme which bilked thousands of investors of an estimated $50-100 Billion. Whether Madoff's primary motivation was simply greed or, as some reports have suggested, a deep need to be viewed as the best and smartest guy in the room, this story is a tragedy from every angle. Whatever you think of Mr. Madoff, it is clear that he had gifts with finances and with getting people to trust him that could have been better served had he not been such a sick and/or sociopathic individual. It was reported that he stated he knew, eventually, his gig would be up, that his scheme couldn't last forever. What, then, was he thinking? His thinking, apparently, was not much different from the thinking of most people who break the law or who have affairs or accept bribes--they usually think they can get away with it and even when their entanglements begin to unravel, it is rare they come forward before, ultimately being confronted and cornered like a check-mated king in a chess game.

And, yet, despite all these headlines, day after day, there are thousands--if not millions--of people who will embark on paths of crime, infidelity, and other breaches of ethics either out of selfish need fulfillment, a naive belief they will never be caught, some feeling of entitlement, or of some feeling of apathy or indifference around potential consequences. One might argue that these kind of actions are what actually make us human, fallible, complex and simple-minded all-in-one.

We must continue to wake up and realize that we are all inter-connected. When we steal from others we are stealing from ourselves and, of course, we end up hurting those closest to us, too.


REPORT: Rise In Shoplifting, Related Retail Theft Breaking Six-Year Downward Trend

Retail theft, including shoplifting, employee theft, administrative error and vendor fraud, is up, according to a recent annual survey conducted by the University of Florida with a funding grant from ADT Security Services.

The National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) preliminary results show a real increase in the rate of retail theft for the first time in six years. In 2007, the lowest rate of retail theft in the 18-year history of the survey was reported at a rate of 1.44 percent of overall retail sales. Last year that rate rose to 1.52 percent of sales translating into losses of $36.5 billion.

These preliminary shoplifting and retail theft rates are calculated as a percentage of total sales and for the previous six years of the survey they have been trending downward, according to University of Florida criminologist Richard Hollinger, Ph.D., who directed the National Retail Security Survey.

"This year both the dollar loss and rate of loss increased and the evidence shows that the economy and resulting cutbacks in staffing by retailers are creating an opportunistic environment for both individual shoplifters and organized retail criminals," he said. "These are preliminary numbers from 2008 and do not reflect shoplifting and retail theft rates from the first part of 2009, when the recession was considered by many to be at its deepest."

Employee theft is still the largest portion of the retail theft pie, although as a percentage it decreased slightly while shoplifting increased in 2008. The survey only reflects in-store organized retail crime and does not measure crimes such as cargo theft or merchandise stolen in transport, but it does show a steady increase in the number of reported organized retail crime incidents per retailer and an increase in the dollar amount per incident.

"Retailers are facing one of the most challenging shoplifting and theft environments in history," said Jeff Bean, vice president ADT retail sales and operations. "As the largest provider of electronic retail security in the world, we are working with our customers to provide them with the technologies and tools that can help them do more with less by maximizing their resources to help keep losses down."

There are a number of new technologies available to retailers that provide them with increased store intelligence and help them to maximize resources and limit losses. New software is capable of analyzing video to detect unusual behaviors and track would-be shoplifters through a store. Retailers can use the software as a very effective tool in the fight against retail theft and at the same time it can be used to study shopping behaviors and patterns to ultimately help improve overall store operations.

New anti-shoplifting tags allow retailers to protect more items securely while leaving them in the open for the convenience of shoppers. Items are protected without making the customer wait or requiring extra staff to retrieve merchandise from under a counter or the back storage room. Point-of-sale analytic software, people counting and remote monitoring are other technologies that allow retailers to not only reduce shoplifting and theft, but also to operate more efficiently.

"The survey is in line with what we have been hearing from retailers about increased shoplifting and organized retail crime in very tough economic times," said Joe La Rocca, loss prevention advisor for the National Retail Federation. "It shows the need for focusing continued efforts on enacting laws to limit these types of crimes and educating the public about purchasing bargain items from questionable sources."

Note of Interest: Mr. Shulman's 44th Birthday was June 27th.

Lawsuit Update:

We may be exchanging depositions in July with a final status conference in late August. We continue to appreciate your support.

Compulsive Theft & Spending in the news! June/July 2009:

Mr. Shulman created an online continuing education course on compulsive shopping and spending based on his book and Power Point presentation through the American Psychotherapy Association. This course is available for purchase by APA members and non-members alike.

Mr. Shulman will be featured in a segment on shoplifting addiction in the MSNBC series "Theft in America" to air in mid-2009.

June 24th--Mr. Shulman was interviewed by phone for Clear Channel Radio on a story about the increase in shoplifting due to a downturn economy.

Mr. Shulman is creating an online course on employee theft and ethics in the workplace for 360 Training. See

Beyond June...

July - September--Mr. Shulman's articles will be featured on Corporate Combat's monthly loss prevention e-Newsletters. See

Fall 2009: Mr. Shulman will have published an article on compulsive shopping and spending in Paradigm Magazine which is affiliated with Proctor Hospital and The Illinois Institute for Addiction and Recovery.

October 14-16--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on compulisve theft and spending at The American Psychotherapy Associations Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV.

October 23 and 25--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on compulsive theft and spending at 2 day-long seminars presented by The Jewish Family Services in the metro-Detroit area.

November 5-8--Mr. Shulman will be presenting a 3 hour workshop on compulsive theft and spending at the Annual Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS) in Palm Desert, CA.

Mr. Shulman is consulting on the development of a major motion picture tentatively called "The Rush" in which the lead character is addicted to shoplifting and stealing.

Mr. Shulman submitted a chapter on employee theft for a U.K. book entitled "Risky Business" to be released in late 2009.

November--Mr. Shulman will be featured in a Toronto-based magazine article on compulsive shopping and spending.

December 1--WETV (Women's Entertainment TV) will be airing a segment on women who compulsively shop and spend in which Mr. Shulman was interviewed working with a woman in Bosie, Idaho.

December--CBC Television in Canada will be airing a segment on shoplifting addiction in which Mr. Shulman appears along with the Detroit area C.A.S.A. support group.

Mr. Shulman continues to assist the Kingman, Arizona court system with his court-ordered homestudy program for retail fraud offenders. The program is based on material from his book "Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery" (2003).

Contact The Shulman Center

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


Call (248) 358-8508 for free consulation!

Related sites by Terrence Shulman:
The Shulman Center
Cleptomaniacs and Shoplifters Anonymous

Something For Nothing
Biting The Hand That Feeds
Bought Out and $pent

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.

Second International Conference on Compulsive Theft & Spending 2 DVD set (6 Hours). Recorded 9/08. $100.00.

Click here to purchase

E-mail Mr. Shulman:


Call (248) 358-8508