The Shulman Center 1


    Greetings from The Shulman Center!

              Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding Newsletter  March 2012


Celebrating 20 years  

 of Serving People! 

       1992 - 2012



Quotes of the Month


"Rationalize is defined as 'rational lies.'"


"I am having an out-of-money experience."


"All I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy."


"The easiest way for your children to learn about money is for you not to have any."


"What is rich? Are you rich enough to help anybody?"



Stats of the Month 


5% of people around the world display traits of clinical hoarding.


75% of hoarders engage in excessive buying; 50% of hoarders excessively acquire free items.


50% of hoarders grow up with a family member who hoards; genetic factors account for 50% of hoarding.


Children begin collecting items at about age 2; by age 6, 70% of children collect or store things.


Up to 40% of persons with OCD display some hoarding characteristics.






Persons of the Month 


Ronnie, a 38-year old Michigan wife and mother of two, and Jill, a 44-year old mid-west wife and mother of three, bravely volunteered to appear with me last month for television news segments on shopping/shoplifting addictions. Ronnie was the subject of an ABC Nightline piece on shopping addiction which aired February 22nd. Jill and Ronnie met me in New York to tape a segment on shoplifting addiction for Anderson Cooper's day-time talk show (to air this month).


I am in awe of their willingness to tell their stories to highlight these addictions so that they are better understood and others may seek help. Their respective families were very supportive and I applaud their courage as well. It's not easy for most of us to open the darker corners of our lives for others to see and, possibly, judge. Both Ronnie and Jill are in recovery. Their sharing is a rare gift to many they will never meet.



Books of the Month 


Money & Psychotherapy

A Guide for Mental Health Professionals, NASW 2011

by Richard Trachtman


Mr. Trachtman's book is a brief but rare and straight-forward offering on a topic that he rightfully states is taboo and avoided: our personal relationship to money and the difficulties talking about this with our therapists and vice-versa.


Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life: Discover Why You Clutter & How to Stop

by Mike Nelson, 2000.


This easy to read revised edition is written by a recovering clutterer who founded the Clutterless Recovery Groups, Inc.


This book is more about cluttering than hoarding and explains some of the key differences between them. The author uses humor and coaching to encourage those who clutter. He also delves into the spiritual aspects of de-cluttering. 


This book is a good practical guide for clutter and disorganization and how to make steady progress in reclaiming your life. 


The Money Shift How to

Implement Your Ideas and Create a Joyful Life with Financial Freedom!

by Tom Palka (2010).


I'm currently reading this 140-page book by metro-Detroit area author Tom Palka, a certified financial planner for nearly 20 years. This book is full of anecdotes from the author's own life as well as those of the clients he has helped. It also has a spiritual bent which draws from law of attraction and positive thinking schools. 


Tom also worked with Hasbro toy and gam company which recently released his board game, The Money Shift, based on his book. He also has a 4-CD audiobook, too!





Films of the Month 


"A Dangerous Method" (2011) Directed by David Cronenberg; starring Viggo Mortenson, Keira Knightley, and Michael Fassbender.


This is a great film about the early meeting, collaboration, and rivalry of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Central to their story of irreconcilable differences over the future of modern psychotherapy is their work with a female patient, Sabina Speilrein, who later went on to become an influential theorist / analyst herself. 


This film is well-acted, part history, part love story and leaves us to ponder questions of style and substance and the costs of trailblazing.


"My Mother's Garden" 2006

Directed by Cynthia Lester. 


This harrowing, hour-long documentary of one daughter's journey to help her mother, a hoarder, avoid eviction from her home was one of the first films to bring hoarding disorder to light. 


There's little professional commentary/intervention:
just the filmmaker's (and her brothers') tender and frustrated attempts to help their mother come to terms with her illness and get rid of her stuff.


"Winnebago Man" (2009) Directed by Ben Steinbauer; 

Starring Jack Rebney as the angriest man alive.


This film is a homespun, low-budget, surprisingly engaging documentary about the cross-country search for Jack Rebney, aka The Winnebago Man from YouTube fame. It's both humorous and heart-felt and explores the YouTube phenomenon of how uploaded clips can make cult heroes of their unsuspecting stars--for better and/or worse.






 See our updated websites at: and affiliated sites.


Mr. Shulman's four books are now available as e-books through


Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction and Recovery


Biting The Hand That Feeds: The Employee Theft Epidemic


Bought Out and $pent! Recovery from Compulsive $hopping


Cluttered Lives, Empty Souls: Stealing, Spending & Hoarding 




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


On The Move and In The News!


February 2012--Mr. Shulman was quoted in an article on employee theft in the Memphis Business Journal and other related online business journals. 


February 22, 2012--Mr. Shulman was a guest expert on compulsive shopping/spending on ABC's "Nightline." See 6-minute video clip at:


March 5, 2012--Mr. Shulman will present on compulsive theft, spending and hoarding at the Annual Neighborhood Services Organization's Problem Gambling conference in Detroit. For info and


March 2012--Mr. Shulman will be a guest expert on shoplifting addiction on Anderson Cooper's weekly daytime talk show. Check listings for date, time, and channel.


March 16-18, 2012--Mr. Shulman to visit Austin, Texas. 


March 22-25, 2012--Mr. Shulman to attend the 35th Annual Psychotherapy Networker conference in Washington, D.C.


April 14, 2012--Mr. Shulman to co-organize/co-present at 2nd metro-Detroit forum: "Living Recovery in an Addictive World." 



I've lived in my condo with my wife since late 2000 and we've been members of our health club, next door, since about that time. Five years or so ago, the restaurant in the health club closed and they installed a snack room with baskets and refrigerators full or assorted goods. Prices were listed for each item and the room had a machine were you were to insert cash, credit card, or your health club card to pay for your items. There was also a security camera and monitor in the room to see yourself on closed-circuit TV as well as an electronic sensor gate at the room's entrance/exit--similar to in retail stores; apparently, food items were "tagged" to set off the alarm somehow--or at least the gate was put there to make you think so as there's no scanner to deactivate anything. 


Well, I've never bought (or stolen) anything from the snack room since it was installed; I admit, though, I've gone into the room about once a year--including just recently--just to see what kind of snacks they have and to see if they've updated their security system.


Well, just the other day, I was stunned to see that my beloved health club had installed an electronic gate at the the mouth of the hallway just past the front-desk check-in and before the opening to the main part of the club. And there was a sign stating: "Please do not remove towels from the health club. Thank you." A sign of the times?


Who would take towels? Has the economy gotten that bad? I asked a couple of club members and an attendant about this recent development. I was told the club was losing close to $1,000 / month in towels. I don't know what each towel costs, but let's say $5 a piece; that's 200 towels a month! So, I was told, the club owner--who has a reputation for being a bit frugal and not fixing things promptly, had the electronic gate installed and is buying all-new heavier towels with sensors sewn right in to trip the gate! A sign of the times.


You know the universe is telling you to pay attention to something when you keep getting a message or some new information within a short period of time. Last month, three different friends told me about a woman named Dr. Brene Brown and her work with shame and vulnerability. Dr.. Brown is a social worker, researcher, storyteller, and author who's posted short clips on YouTube of a few of her recent talks. See links below:


How many of us really want to feel shame or vulnerability? Though they become familiar, I doubt we really want to feel the continual weight or subtle nagging of the pervasive feelings of "I'm not good enough" or "something bad is going to happen." Thus, we tend to gravitate toward addictions to numb ourselves or we seek control and order or certainty (whether in religion or politics or other venues) to grasp a sense or security to stave off vulnerability. 


Dr. Brown asserts we live with vulnerability every day: about the economy, our employment, war/terrorism, and even the more simple things like risking rejection by asking your partner if he/she would like to be intimate later that night. Dr. Brown speaks of the importance of feeling like we are worthy and belong and that both individually and collectively, we're losing our sense of this. People who have a strong sense of belonging believe they're worthy of love and belonging. In addition, they have a strong sense of worthiness and connectedness. How do they develop this? Ms. Brown submits that they have the courage to be imperfect, to accept their imperfections, and to fully embrace and show their vulnerability in order to more fully embrace and show their authenticity. It won't always feel safe or even be recognized or honored--in fact, many of us experience outright shaming for speaking our truths or revealing our deepest  desires, fears, and other feelings. But those who want to experience true love and peace have an inner knowing they just have to do it. 


We need to be courageous enough to keep our hearts open and to be seen (and heard). We need to feel grateful for those who do see us and can embrace all sides of us. I have had many experiences lately of tapping into my own vulnerability and sharing my truth. It has been truly earth-shaking and life-changing. But I know it's part of how we grow, heal, and learn to love ourselves.


See also





The current March 5, 2012 issue of Time Magazine includes an interesting 6-page article entitled: "Getting to No: The Science of Building Willpower." The article highlights the most recent brain research around our desires and survival instincts as well as excerpts from a string of recent books on the willpower topic. While some light is shed to suggest brain circuitry is intricately connected to one's ability to refrain from certain behaviors, there remain questions about chicken and egg: does one's brain cause the behavior or does the behavior change the brain?


While the article mentions the power of addiction to highjack our willpower, it dodges the conventional argument that recovery is less about building willpower and more about surrender and admitting one's powerless. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between. We certainly can't deny the cases of people quitting addictions or bad habits "cold-turkey" (though there's often a crucial difference between mere abstinence and recovery); we also can't deny that many addicts go through treatment after treatment only to seemingly "fail." What, therefore, makes one person succeed in breaking and addictive habit or pattern and another not?


While this article points to new research in brain circuitry and offers some cognitive strategies to better understand why we do what we do (and don't do what we don't) and improve our ability to say "yes" to some things and "no" to others, it's safe to say it's still a mystery. 


Conventional wisdom about addiction views and treats it as a disease. Even the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recently came out with the pronouncement that addictions--both chemical and behavioral--are "brain diseases/disorders." The 12-step group model--based on Bill W.'s Alcoholics Anonymous group founded in 1935--embraces the idea of admitting powerlessness over our addictions and surrendering to a higher power as the only (or at least best) way to secure lasting sobriety/recovery.


Personally, I've benefitted from both 12-step group attendance and non-12-step group attendance, 12-step tools and other tools, and I continue to wrestle at times with my sense of spirituality and my relationship to a higher power. My sense is that most recovering people can relate.


I have come to accept that I am powerless over shoplifting and stealing (my primary addictions), and have accepted that I've had trouble managing my co-dependent patterns, my TV-watching TV or computer-use, my workaholism, and my love of carbs. This doesn't mean that I have no willpower or no discipline. I do. I have to use willpower and discipline to make money to live; I use my willpower to get myself to a meeting when I don't feel like it, to go to the gym, to keep my mouth shut or, conversely, to find the courage to speak my truth. But there's also a time for admitting powerlessness over people, places, situations and events and surrendering to the great mystery of life. As usual, it's not either/or, it's both/and.


Some excerpts from the article:


"Our brains operate at three levels: I will, I won't and I want," says psychologist Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct and a professor at Stanford University. "For many of us, the I-want part wins." 


In a 2010 study, Heatherton and two colleagues recruited 100 subjects, half of whom were chronic dieters and the rest of whom had little history of having to control their weight. They were slid into an fMRI scanner to see how their brains reacted to images of food. The nondieters showed activity in the nucleus accumbens, one place appealing cues are processed, and little activity in the amygdala, which would have indicated an aversion to food. The dieters showed just the opposite, suggesting that they were trying--successfully--to control their appetites. All of the subjects were then taken out of the scanners and given 15-oz. (444 ml) milk shakes to drink. They then went back in and were shown the same images.

This time, the nondieters' nuclei accumbens stayed quiet, showing no interest in any more food, and their amygdalae lit up, flashing a "stay away" signal. The dieters, curiously, had the opposite reaction: even though they had consumed as much as the other group, their nuclei accumbens went into action--effectively saying "more"--and their amygdalae grew quieter. This didn't mean they were insatiable. Rather, as any recidivist dieter knows, it suggested that the very idea of food had become so fraught for them that drinking a milk shake triggered an anxiety response, which they then sought to medicate with other foods. "The what-the-hell effect has always been seen as a decisional thing," says Heatherton. "In fact, it's subtler than that."

One paradoxical way to contain cravings is what McGonigal calls mindfulness, which is a lot less squishy than it sounds. Studies of smokers in fMRI scanners have shown that trying to deal with an urge through brute resistance exacerbates the problem, with the lower brain effectively going from orange alert to red. People who instead acknowledge their feelings and nudge them back in line with deep breathing or other relaxation exercises can calm their brains faster. "Acceptance doesn't have to mean endorsing the feelings," McGonigal says.

Another willpower booby trap is known as the halo effect. You go to the gym and sweat for an hour, then you go out to lunch. You've been good, so why not get some fries with that sandwich? The flaw in your thinking is as basic as arithmetic: burning off 400 calories and gobbling 500 does not add up. But the halo effect doesn't care. The mere concept of behaving virtuously--even if you haven't actually done so--may be enough to give you the license to indulge.

 Even something as simple as candidly evaluating how much time you'll have to achieve your goals helps. In an ideal world, we'd always be able to get to the gym or go for a jog, but the ideal world has no sick days or overtime at work. That doesn't mean we shouldn't exercise, but it does mean we need to take a cold look at when we can fit it into our schedule and stick to that realistic plan instead of chasing a fanciful one.


None of this is easy--and the fact is, none of it is fun, at least in the very short term. But if there's a happy side to all the new research, it's that the muscle analogy works both ways. It's true enough that exercising willpower can lead to a kind of psychic ache, and it's true too that that can lead to a short-term failure of resolve. But over time, incrementally, fatigue becomes strength and ache becomes commitment. Your lower brain may always have the fun, but your higher brain, with practice, can still say how much.





Spring's just around the corner! You don't have to live in the colder climates to get excited but, for those of us who do, it's a wonderful invitation to crack the windows open, air the place out, and get rid of the old to make room for the new... or, just get rid of the old!  


If you or someone you know has hoarding disorder, professional help likely will be needed. If you just need a prod or a push to get moving, here are a few ideas that may be of help:


1. Ask for help from family, friends or neighbors

2. Hire a professional organizer

3. Set aside particular dates and mark them on your calendar

4. Call donation centers to schedule pick-ups/drop-offs

5. Arrange for recycling or paper shredding pick-ups/drop-offs 

6. List things for sale in the paper, on Craig's list or e-Bay

7. Open up the doors and windows and let the fresh air in!

8. Turn on your favorite music to energize you 

9. Set modest goals for each day; set a timer if necessary

10. Stop and rest if you become tired or have body aches

11. Schedule a treat or reward for yourself (and others) afterwards






Walk in peace.



The Shulman Center 2012 Events Calendar 


March 5, 2012--Mr. Shulman to present on compulsive theft, spending and hoarding at the Annual Detroit Problem Gambling Conference. See:


April 14, 2012--Mr. Shulman to co-organize/co-present at 2nd metro-Detroit forum: "Living Recovery in an Addictive World."


April 19/20, 2012--Mr. Shulman to present on helping counseling clients with legal issues at the Annual Michigan Social Workers Conference.


June 2012 Mr. Shulman will have an article on compulsive theft, spending & hoarding in Addiction Professional Magazine.


August 2012 (prospective) Mr. Shulman to present on compulsive theft, spending & hoarding at the Annual Addictions Studies Institute in Columbus, OH.


August 2012 (prospective) Mr. Shulman to present on compulsive theft, spending and hoarding at the Annual Cape Cod Institute summer conference in Cape Cod, MA.


September 2012 Mr. Shulman will have an article on compulsive theft, spending & hoarding in Counselor Magazine.


September 12, 2012--C.A.S.A. (Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous) metro-Detroit celebrates 20-year anniversary.


September 28 - October 2, 2012--Mr. Shulman will be attending and presenting on compulsive theft, spending & hoarding at the National Conference on Addictive Disorders in Orlando, Florida.


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 with 360 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 websites at /


LAYERED VOICE ANALYSIS Loss Prevention Technology


Kevin Colburn, of Vancouver, British Columbia has been in the loss prevention field for many years and recently was trained in Israel to work with layered voice analysis technology. LVA allows interviewers (and interrogators) to accurately determine a subject's truthfulness or evasiveness. See: 


THE MONEY SHIFT (Book, Board Game and Seminars)


Tom Palka, CFP, a metro-Detroit area financial planner, and I recently met. He's worked in finances for over 25 years and has written a book, developed a board game, and offers seminars on transforming our thinking about money and wealth. See his website at



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:






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 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).