The Shulman Center

Terrence Shulman
Founder/Director of
The Shulman Center

Terry Shulman

March 2010 Monthly e-Newsletter
" It was 20 Years Ago Today..."
Terrence Daryl Shulman

ANNOUNCEMENTS! Spring's Just Around The Corner!

Check out our newly updated blog at

I'd like to dedicate this month's e-Newsletter to Jennie "Bunica" Polak, my mother-in-law, who recently passed away at age 87 on February 13, 2010. She was a strong and gentle soul. I enjoyed being in her
life the past 10 years. She will be missed.

Also, I'd like to say Happy 80th Birthday to my stepdad Jim (Feb. 12th) and an early Happy Birthday to
my mother Madeline (March 17th).

Family is precious to us even as we merge with and embrace the greater family of humanity around us.

We'd also like to dedicate this issue to the people of Haiti and Chile who have suffered earthquakes.

"Our appearance, our words, our actions are never greater than ourselves. For the soul is our house, our eyes its windows, our words and actions its messengers." Kahlil Gibran

Celebrating 20 Years of Recovery!

It was 20 years ago--on March 3, 1990--that I hit my bottom with shoplifting and with life as it was. I
was in the middle of law school--just shy of 25--and I'd been shoplifting and stealing from work for nearly 10 years. My relationship with my girlfriend was on the rocks--mostly because of me. My father was in
a wheelchair from a stroke and had begun drinking again. I was anxious about accumulating more student debt with just-passing grades and no real desire to be an attorney. My shoplifting and stealing were out of control. I was stressed, depressed and at my wit's end. I actually began to think of suicide
as the only way to end my pain, the only way to escape. And, worst of all, nobody really knew how I felt and nobody knew I'd been stealing all this time. I was lost. I was alone...

"My world was crumbling. I knew I needed help. It was at this point that I told my Mom and Dad I
needed to see a counselor. I told them I was depressed. I told them I had been shoplifting for the last several years. They were shocked but both were supportive. My Mom said she had a feeling something was going on. She thought it was drugs. My Dad was clueless because of his condition. They knew I was a good person and believed it must be more of an emotional problem. I started seeing a psychologist. There was a ray of hope.

"But a week later, my Mom went out of town. I'd seen my new counselor once but was still unstable. I was feeling down and all alone. I got this idea to try to get back with (my girlfriend). I felt desperate, restless. My thoughts took over...

"I can't stand it! What have I done? I hate my life! Pain... there's only pain! Nothing's fair. I didn't mean to hurt her... I can't believe my life has come to this. I can't sit still. I can't stay here. I've gotta do something... I could go to the supermarket and get something... maybe a bottle of champagne, like
the one I took before... That'll show her I love her... Just do it! Grab your trench coat, the long one.
Saturday mornings are pretty busy there, no one will notice... I'll just go, get it, and come home...

"Okay, we're here... Just act calm. You know the trick. Walking... through... the doors... Okay, I'm in. Look around... Everything looks okay. Act normal... act friendly. Smile... Don't browse too long. Just
go to the champagne aisle... Okay, we're here... Nobody's watching... Which one should I get? This one'll do... wait! Look around... Act normal... Okay, looks clear... Take the bottle and slip it under
your coat... Act like you're looking for something... Okay... get out of here...

"Okay, now stay calm, just walk out... Who are those two guys at the door? I'm screwed! Keep calm...

"Excuse me, sir. Could you come with us?

"Somebody shoot me... I want to die..."

(Excerpted from "Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery," 2003, pages 20-21)

How many of us have had a "just shoot me" moment? How many of us can relate to the feeling of
"hitting a bottom"?

When I re-read these lines from my story, from my life, it feels like that was only yesterday yet, at
the same time, it feels like it was a dream, like it wasn't even me. But I know it was me: I was
arrested (my second time) I did go to court, I did plead guilty, and I did continue in counseling. I did
begin my recovery journey. And I can only imagine where I'd be--who I'd be--had I not taken that first
big step... and kept on the path.

Twenty years later my life still feels like a dream sometimes. I could never have guessed that things would have evolved as they had. I never would have guessed that I'd start a support group, C.A.S.A. (Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous) in 1992. I never would have guessed that I'd go back to school and earn a Masters in social work in 1997. I never would have dreamed that I'd meet a woman
as wonderful as my future wife, Tina. I never would have imagined I'd write and publish a book about shoplifting in 2003 and--less than a year later--be on The Oprah Winfrey Show. I never would have imagined that I'd be counseling shoplifters and others who steal. I am grateful for my addiction.

I guess it only goes to show: you never know what life will bring and what we can create as we put
one step in front of the other and just keep moving forward, day by day, hour by hour, minute by

And who knows what tomorrow will bring? I certainly don't. Of course, there's been many ups and
downs over the last two decades in my life and I'm pretty sure there's still some ups and downs
ahead. Still, I'm continuing to learn to be grateful for the journey in all its ragged, meandering
splendor. It's sure the heck got to be better than how I was living in my addiction.

Today, at least, I know I have choices--and when I forget that, I have plenty of good people around
me to remind me! Today, at least, I know I am a co-creator of my life, for better or for worse. Today,
at least, I know, I feel less lost and more found. Today, I know, I am not alone.

Thank you all who have supported me in so many ways over these last 20 years of my recovery. I
hope I may stay grounded, humble, and passionate about life and about serving life and others in a healthy way.

On Tiger and Toyota

There were a couple interesting apologies in the news last month: Tiger Woods' and Toyota's. Both
"brands" had recently been badly damaged: Tiger's through his numerous affairs and Toyota's through
its several recalls on its automobiles. However, what likely has damaged them even more that these
"facts" is their delays in apologizing and accepting responsibility and, further, their assumed "cover-up" attempts. The cover-up is always worse than the underlying transgression. This is true with addictions
and recovery.

As more comes out about these two stories, it appears Tiger's affairs had been going on for quite some time and, lest one argue that this is purely a matter between him and his wife, I am not so surprised
thatTiger is "human" as that he got away with his "perfect image" for as long as he did. With Toyota, U.S. congressional hearings have started not just to oversee quick and efficient corrections to Toyota's safety issues but to determine if Toyota committed criminal conduct by downplaying and covering up these issues earlier. I can't help be reminded of the banks, investment companies, and the drug and
pharmaceutical industries.

It is telling that Tiger admitted his wealth, fame, and talent had, essentially, gone to his head and that
he began to believe normal rules of conduct didn't apply to him. In a similar vein, Toyota has admitted that it started to take short-cuts in its long-held and relatively successful quality control procedures in response to increasing global demand for its vehicles and also figured it could save $100 million by not instituting a recall earlier. Perhaps, like Tiger, Toyota hedged its bets and felt either that its actions wouldn't cause harm or, at least, it wouldn't get caught.

Many are still baffled: "what were they thinking? They had so much to lose for so little." I'm reminded
of Winona Ryder and her (in)famous shoplifting incident.
We only need turn the mirror on ourselves to think about times--recent or past--where our own best thinking failed us. Again, for those acquainted
with addiction and recovery, simple logic rarely is at work. I can't account for any of the pressures
Toyota (or its chairman Mr. Toyoda) experiences. I can empathize, however, on some level with the pressures Tiger must have felt to continue "living the perfect life." Perhaps, now, he is finally free on some level. Of course, he may also be working overtime to claw his way back as far as possible to respectability.

We don't know what stressors or pressures go on in people's personal lives. Tiger admitted he'd fallen
off his Buddhist practices and I can imagine he's still going through grief over his father's death just a couple of years ago. Reports put Tiger in sex rehab. Is he really a sex addict? Is Winona really a shoplifting addict? Who knows?

Time will tell whether Tiger or Toyota is able to rebound and regain the trust and respect--and the confidence of their respective consumers. In the meantime, perhaps we can learn something about hubris and taking short cuts and about covering-up our misdeeds vs. owning up quickly and humbly.

Free Intimacy with Money Telephone Seminars

It is with great excitement and confidence that I wish to share about the Free "Intimacy with Money"
telephone seminars conducted by my long-time friend Tom Lietaert and my more recent friend Andrew
Hogan who currently work out of Boulder/Denver, Colorado. Their next free teleconference is on Monday
March 8, 2010 at 7pm Mountain Standard Time. The topic is money and marriage/relationships.

To learn more and to register, please go to:

New Credit Card Law in Effect

A new consumer protection credit card law went into effect February 22, 2010 which may help level
the playing field and protect consumers in at least 8 ways. However, the average consumer credit card debt hovers about $10,000 and the average student credit card debt (not counting student loans) is currently at $3,313. Further, many credit card companies rushed to raise their interest rates before the law went into effect and have already been finding loopholes and end-around to evade the spirit of the
new law.

The new law is aimed to promote the following: stopping retroactive rate increases: providing more advance notice of interest rate hikes; eliminate/reduce overdraft fees; prevent issuance of credit cards
to persons/students under 21; end double-billing cycles; fairer payment allocation to higher interest
card balances first; statements must be mailed earlier--at least 21 days before payments are due; and gift cards expiration dates are extended to at least 5 years from the date of issuance.

Still, credit cards are dangerous in the wrong hands and, according to Dave Ramsey, people spend
on average of 15% more annually when using credit cards regularly compared to people who make purchases regularly with cash, checks, and/or debit cards.

If you would like to read more about the new credit card law, please click on the link below:

Book of the month: Who Would You Be Without Your Story? by Bryon Katie

If you're not familiar with Byron Katie's work called "The Work" or her several books, I'd recommend
you read this one. It is filled with actual dialogues she's had with individuals who've attended her live seminars. Katie works with each person on a particular challenge or hurt in his or her life which has been difficult to let go. Breakthroughs abound! Our notions of who we are--and who others are--and
what life really is get questioned in a humorous and piercing way.

Katie has developed four questions which she calls "inquiry" as a tool to explore and shift any "story" we have about ourselves, others, or life which may not be serving us (or others!). We ask: 1. Is it true? 2. Can we absolutely know it's true? 3. How do we feel or react believing this is true? 4. Who would we be without this truth or story? In addition, Katie encourages us to "turnaround" our story. For example,
if my story is "nobody understands or supports me in the way I deserve it" I would go through the four questions of inquiry and see what really comes up for me and then, in the "turnaround" I can choose
to reframe my statement, to see if there are other possible truths/stories that fit as well: "I don't really understand or support (others) in the way they deserve it"; "I don't understand or support myself in the way I deserve it"; "Others do understand and support me in the way I deserve it."

You might be surprised what new perspectives are revealed for you. See more of Byron Katie's work

Compulsive Theft & Spending in The News! February/March 2010:

February 1--Mr. Shulman was featured on self-publishing and creating a counseling practice/business

February 15--Mr. Shulman was featured on self-publishing and creating a counseling practice/business
in Crain's Detroit Business weekly newspaper.

February 15--Mr. Shulman was featured in an online article about compulsive shopping and spending in
the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper.

February 22--Mr. Shulman was featured on Detroit's Channel 7 News (ABC) on compulsive shoplifting.

March--Mr. Shulman will be featured in an article in Seventeen magazine about shoplifting and teens.

March--Mr. Shulman will be featured in an article in Carroll magazine about shoplifting addiction. 

March--Mr. Shulman will be featured in an article in Alternet magazine about compulsive shopping.

March--Mr. Shulman will be featured in articles in The Toronto Star newspaper and in Canada's
Chatelaine magazine on shoplifting addiction.

Mr. Shulman is assisting the Baton Rouge, Louisiana court system a court-ordered three hour 
facilitated educational program for retail fraud offenders. The program is based on material from
his book "Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery" (2003).

Beyond March...

Mr. Shulman is to be featured in an article on shoplifting addiction and youth in the April 2010 edition
of Seventeen Magazine.

April 8--Mr. Shulman will be a featured presenter on men's issues in therapy and recovery at The
National Association of Social Workers--Michigan Chapter Annual Conference in Dearborn, Michigan.

September 8-11--Mr. Shulman will be a guest presenter on compulsive shopping and spending at
The National Conference on Addiction Disorders near Washington, D.C.

Mr. Shulman submitted a chapter on employee theft for a U.K. book entitled "Risky Business" to
be released in mid-2010.

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 is 
offered through The American Psychotherapy Association and is available for purchase by APA
members and non-members and CEs are available. See

Mr. Shulman created an online education course called "Creating an Honest and Theft-Free 
Workplace" based on his book and Power Point presentation through 360 Training Services.
CEs are available. See

Mr. Shulman is assisting with a CNN TV news story about compulsive shopping/spending in
today's economy.

Mr. Shulman will be featured in a segment on shoplifting addiction in the MSNBC series "Theft in 
America" to air in late 2009/early 2010.

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

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

Mr. Shulman is consulting with an author who is writing a novel about two kleptomaniacs who fall in
love with each other.

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:


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

Products for Purchase--ON SALE through 2009!

Mr. Shulman's three books "Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction & Recovery" and "Biting
The Hand That Feeds: The Employee Theft Epidemic... New Perspectives, New Solutions," and
"Bought Out and $pent! Recovery from Compulsive $hopping and $pending" are availabe for $25.00
each (includes shipping/handling).

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