The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft & Spending

             June 2008 e-Newsletter

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Happy Father's Day!


Fall 2008 Conference on Compulsive Theft & Spending takes place Saturday September 27, 2008 in Detroit! Super Early Bird Discount--register by July 1st! Space is limited! See or any of our websites for information and registration. Also, Mr. Shulman's new book Bought Out and $pent! Recovery from Compulsive $hopping and $pending available now! Purchase through Mr. Shulman or through our websites.

                                                                CLOSE CALLS, WAKE-UP CALLS!
                                                                        Terrence Daryl Shulman
                                                             Founder/Director, The Shulman Center

It's almost summer and my head is awash with thoughts. But the primary one is: "slow down."

I was counseling a client the other day at my office—it was our fourth session—and she was 15 minutes late and then talking a mile a minute as has been her pattern so far. Stress oozed out of her every pore. It was like looking at a mirror. I saw myself. I noticed I was feeling stressed just listening to her. Is this how I sometimes appear to others? I felt sadness and, then, compassion. I let her vent a little more and then, as if she was expecting me to interrupt or offer some advice, she eventually stopped talking and got quiet and still. I just looked into her eyes and offered a soft, reassuring smile.

I could sense a well-spring of emotion rising up in her. She broke the silence with a short "explanation."

"I know I'm scattered today, all over the map. It's just that I have all these things to do—it's busier than normal and, as usual, I have to do it all myself."

Boy, could I relate. It was as if this client had been sent to me right here, right now to show me myself.

She further shared: "I'm not a good delegator. I'm the one everyone relies on. I'm the one who handles all the emergencies."

This client, a 53-year old suburban wife, mother of 3 teenagers, had just been arrested for shoplifting six months ago. It was her third arrest in about 5 years.

Finally, I offered a statement I could have just as well been saying to myself: "So, you handle all the emergencies until you become an emergency."

She initially shot back: "No, not really. No." But then she got quiet again and relented: "Yes, I see what you're saying."

I went further: "So, your shoplifting is likely a built-up response to the pressures of your life. It's a clear warning sign that you need help. But who helps you? Your kids don't know. Your family doesn't know. And your husband knows about your arrests but not about your pain inside? Who helps you?"

"Nobody," she said. "I help me."

I debated whether to press further and decided to do so. "I applaud you for coming to therapy and I know this is a process for you. But I feel the need to point out to you—without criticism—that you seem to have come to therapy because it was court-ordered, you've been late, you are reluctant to attend our local C.A.S.A support groups, and you have told me that you haven't even opened my book "Something for Nothing" in the last month because you've been too busy. What do you think this indicates?"

She was silent for a few moments. Then she said: "I guess I just need to do what I need to do."

I then suggested: "It would be even better if you wanted to do it. You're real good at doing what you need to do for others. It's harder to do what you need to do for yourself. And it's even harder to want to do what you need to do for yourself. When you want this way of living to stop, when you want to understand what's making you tick, when you want to be a different person, then something will begin to shift. In the meantime, I'm afraid you are headed for another 'close call.'"

Again, I could have been talking to myself. I've had a number of "close calls" of late. My cholesterol began to rise dangerously before I finally got serious about diet and exercise and medication for it. My marriage of nearly 6 years went through another rocky time a couple of months ago which prompted me to get back into therapy and to take a harder look at my "workaholic" tendencies. A month ago, I had my car towed because I was running around too much and fell back into my "addictive thinking"—trying to get something for nothing in the form of free parking. And just a week ago, in my "energizer bunny" mode, I had a lapse of carefulness while power-washing the windows of my home too close to a cardinal's nest in a nearby pine tree which may have resulted in the new-born chick falling to its death. Close calls. Wake-up calls.

I recognize that most of us, for better or worse, need to have some close call or wake-up call (sometimes, several of them) in order to be ready for change. Nearly 90% of my clients contact me after a close call or wake-up call. It could be an arrest, a firing from a job, a threat of divorce, or a nervous breakdown. Indeed, when I hit my bottom in 1990, it was the suicidal feelings and fear of following through that finally prompted me to get help. And, I recall, I didn't initially want help but I knew I needed it. Eventually, my needing help evolved into my wanting help—just as I do my best to view ongoing recovery as an opportunity rather than a burden. The same thing has finally shifted around my cholesterol, diet and exercise. Of course, an awareness of needing and wanting help or change isn't so bad either.

Close calls, wake-up calls. Sometimes, as they say: "It's always darkest before the dawn." My middle brother--who is turning 37 this year and has a son who's almost 7—has seemed to turn a corner in his life in the last month. After 12 years of waiting tables, having a variety of ups and downs, and being pretty negative and closed-minded to matters of personal growth, he recently hit his own bottom after 4 months of being off work and floundering. I honestly worried for a while that we might lose him. He got a new job in sales, is working 9-5 for the first time since I can remember, and is as upbeat and motivated as I've ever seen him. He's even talking about "The Secret" (the book and DVD on "The Law of Attraction")—about how "like attracts like" so positivity attracts positivity and negativity attracts negativity. For the first time in a long time, I have my middle-brother back. (I got my youngest brother back in 2004 when he got into recovery). I hold the space for his journey to continue on a good track.

Speaking of track, as a sports fan, I've been watching my Detroit teams and other teams come down to the wire in the current NBA and NHL playoffs. The suspense is killing me! With the 2008 Olympics nearly upon us, it will be a game of inches and milliseconds between a medal and no medal, winner and loser. Close calls, no cigars.

Finally, last night I watched the new HBO movie "Recount" about the 2000 U.S. Presidential election between George Bush and Al Gore. It occurred to me that we are living at such a crucial time of close calls and wake-up calls. The 2000 and 2004 elections were two of the closet in our nation's history. The current race between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is another example of how evenly divided our country seems to be. I wouldn't be surprised if the 2008 election were a nail-biter as well. 9/11 was a wake-up call? But did we wake-up or go back to sleep? Global warming is a wake-up call? Higher gas prices, higher food prices, war, and natural disasters all bring opportunities to wake-up.

Is there a way to relax this summer without totally going to sleep? Life is fragile. We're all interconnected. When will we wake up before it's too late?





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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 available now 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 is working with MSNBC on a series on addiction--including shoplifting addiction to be aired in September 2008.

May 27th--Mr. Shulman co-presented a local free lecture and discussion on "Affluenza and Super-Consumerism" with Professor Michael Whitty in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Mr. Shulman is working with A & E TV's "Intervention" show on a shoplifting addiction segment.

June 21st--Mr. Shulman to co-present again with Professor Michael Whitty on "Affluenza and Super-Consumerism" in Detroit, Michigan.



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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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© 2007 The Shulman Center