The Shulman Center 1


    Greetings from The Shulman Center!

Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding Newsletter 

May 2013 -- Happy Mothers Day!

Remembering Boston! We Stand With You!


   Serving People 
Since 1992!



Quotes of the Month: 


"Life is short; there is no time to leave important words unsaid" unknown


"Join the earth community; you're already a part of it." -- Marvin Marvin


"The body is a house of windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passersby to come and love us." --Robert Louis Stevenson


"Ever wonder what crime you committed that you are confined to a small enclosure above your sinuses, under permanent skull arrest?" --Robert Brault


"When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother has to think twice: once for herself and once for her child." --Sophia Loren



Stats/Facts of the Month


A recent survey revealed that about three fourths of 1,800 students at nine universities admitted to cheating on tests or assignments.


Mothers' Day stats:

-There are 2 billion mothers in the world.

-4.3 babies born every second in the world.

-$671 million spent annually on Mothers' Day cards and $1.9 billion on flowers.

(Source: 2012, DIY Father and Pro Flowers)



Persons of the Month
Victims of Violence  


Here in the U.S. it feels to me and many I talk to that there's an increase in violence, especially mass violence. We just weathered the Boston Marathon bombings as well as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December. Our politics continue to show how hard it is for parties to work together for solutions.


Globally, while peace appears from time to time after some conflicts fade, there are still bombings, riots, and various crimes against the most vulnerable citizens. 


What will need to happen in this 21st century to show that we've evolved as a species to stop killing each other and learn how to share and compromise and live in peace?



Book of the Month:


Getting Past Your Past:

Take Control of Your Life with Self-help Techniques from EMDR Therapy 

by Francine Shapiro

(2012 Rodale Press)


Whether we've experienced small setbacks or major traumas, we are all influenced by our memories and by experiences we may not remember or fully understand. This book offers practical techniques that demystify the human condition and empower readers looking to take charge of their lives.


Shapiro, the creator of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) explain

the brain science in layman's terms and provides simple exercises that readers can do at home to understand their automatic responses and achieve real change.



Film of the Month:


"The Gatekeepers" (2012)

Written/Directed by 

Dror Moreh


This gripping 90-minute documentary features first-time, rare, interviews with six of Israel's retired directors of Shin Bet, Israel's equivalent of the C.I.A.


The premise of the film is that, despite Israel's increasingly sophisticated spy intelligence and weaponry, that groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad have largely leveled the power playing field through its warfare strategies (i.e. bombings) which have succeeded in evoking fear and anxiety from time to time.


There will be no real peace, say these six patriots until Israel commits to a real peace strategy rather than just tactics of war and defense. There is ample insight into the evolving Israeli politics which continue, as here in the U.S. and elsewhere, move farther toward religious extremism.


I couldn't help think about how we tend to approach problems in our left-brain, western world: treating the symptoms rather than the core problems or diseases. This goes for medicine, politics, loss prevention, and just about anything.


The Shulman Center on the move and in the news...  


April 10, 2013--Mr. Shulman is quoted in an article on shopping addiction in Everyday Health. See: EverydayHealth


April 10, 2013--Mr. Shulman is quoted in an article on men and shopping addiction online at Fox Business News. See Fox


April 25, 2013--Mr. Shulman has penned the "Foreword" for upcoming book Shoplifters: Are They Out of Control? by California forensic psychologist John C. Brady.


July 2013--Mr. Shulman will have an article about honesty in the workplace in the Jack Hayes International quarterly newsletter.


October 4, 2013--Mr. Shulman will be have a booth at the Annual Royal Oak, MI Health Fair. 


October 7-9, 2013--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on employee theft at The 3rd Annual Lifestyle Intervention Conference in Las Vegas, NV.


October 25 and October 27, 2013--Mr. Shulman will be presenting 2 all-day seminars on compulsive theft, spending and hoarding at Jewish Family Services in West Bloomfield, MI.




What are some lessons we can take away from the recent Boston Marathon bombings? I can think of a few:


1. Life is fragile... don't take it for granted. It's hard to do but live today as if it might be your last. Make it count. Be kind. Enjoy life. Don't let things go unsaid or undone too long.


2. Tragedies show the worst and the best of us. Those who commit such heinous acts reveal the worst. The heroes and the way we come together to help reveal the best. Why is it that we forget how to be our best until the next tragedy? Let's hold onto some of that sense of community and goodness a little longer...


3. The pros and cons of living in a "Big Brother" surveillance society. There are more and more ways we are being tracked in our daily lives: cameras, online, credit card purchases, identity theft, etc. People get traffic tickets in the mail just because a camera clocked or caught us going through a red light. I'm a little weary of all this but, I admit, I was grateful for the Lord and Taylor outdoor video cameras that caught images of the Boston bombers. For those considering or engaging in shoplifting, employee theft, or other illegal behavior--don't do it! Increasingly, we are being watched--even when we think we aren't. 


4. It's not just the government or the stores that have cameras--most of us have camera phones that can capture even our most private moments. There are pros and cons to this, too. Some film footage, texting, and crowd-sourcing in Boston led to videos and tips that helped identify and catch the suspects. Little brother is watching, too!



After the "buzz" about famed sportswriter Buzz Bizzinger's recent confession as a shopaholic in GQ Magazine, much-needed attention has spiked about shopping addiction in men. Below is an article that appeared recently on Fox Business News online:


Jack's shopping addiction started when he was a child, when he first learned the connection between money and goods.


"It began from the time that I started getting money as a child and realized it could get me candy and gumballs," he says. "The compulsion evolved from when I was fairly young to the point where I hit bottom. I was sick and tired of being obsessive and keeping the secret over my obsession."


His purchases were never lavish, but they were things that Jack, now 61, says he didn't need and couldn't afford on his $45,000 a year salary. He bought mostly $1 and $2 used books, model boats and even a Rolex, but his overspending veered into hoarding tendency.


"I would obsess over things, and I wouldn't be able to get them out of my mind," he says. "I'd focus on that rather than paying my rent, or getting food, or taking care of my pets. I had about $2,000 in debt, but it was my personal threshold, and I was looking for a bridge to jump off of."


Finally at age 37, Jack realized he had a spending problem and turned to professional help to learn how to deal with his compulsions.


In his more than two decades in Debtors Anonymous, Jack says he has seen members go bankrupt with more than a million dollars in debt, and others with compulsive shopping tendencies with only $1,000 in debt. Shopping addictions don't always mean massive spending, it's about not having the control to say no and stop spending-whether it's a toy boat or yacht.


"It's not about what we are buying, so much as needing to buy something so that we can feel better. We are shopping for the rush," Jack explains.


While shopping sprees and addictions are often stereotyped with women, more men have been developing addictions in recent years, according to Terrence Shulman, founder and director of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding.


Famed sports writer Buzz Bissinger sent a ripple through the sports world last week when he admitted in GQ Magazine that he blew more than half a million dollars on designer clothes, mainly Gucci, in two years.


Shulman estimates there are about 30 million Americans with a compulsive shopping problem and 50% are men. While men and women shop differently, Shulman says the trend has ignited and overlapped in recent years, as society has become increasingly consumer oriented.


"Men will overspend on vacations, new homes, cars-they bite off more than they can chew to keep up with the Joneses," he says.

His typical client is married or engaged, in their 40s or 50s and well educated. Many  Many have prior addictions to alcohol or drugs and have shifted their compulsions into spending because it is viewed as less deterrent to their daily lives.


"I had one client who was a recovering alcoholic from Florida who stopped working due to a disability, so he had a lot of time on his hands," he says. "The guy spent over $200,000 on computer equipment, then built a C.D. radio tower in his back yard. But he would never finish his projects. Then he started buying guns-that kind of shifting can happen a lot."


Shulman says he works by phone or via Skype with about 50 clients per year who are male and one-third are compulsive shoppers. Many have substantial debt, from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.


As Bissinger recounts in his confessional, shopping addiction is easier to fuel than in the past since shopping can be done anytime from anywhere.


"Because of easy access with computers, TV, Internet and smartphones, things that men use a lot rather than going browsing in stores... we are becoming more of an impulsive, consumerist society and men are even more susceptible to this. I also think we're becoming an increasingly materialistic and empty culture," Shulman says.


Jack says his addiction did push him into isolation and contributed to the end of his marriage. His obsession, shame and compulsion had him in a vicious cycle for decades. He accredits Debtors Anonymous for helping him get out of debt, develop a spending plan and foster a healthier relationship with money and material items.


"It's up to the individual to admit it isn't working," he says.


Here are three signs you may have a shopping addiction:


No. 1: Obsession over items. The things you are buying or swooning over may not be fancy or costly, but the idea of buying is intoxicating. Jack says he racked up thousands in debt on $1 and $2 items- and it got to the point where he couldn't get them out of his mind.


No. 2: Keeping secrets about your purchases. Shulman says many men, especially in relationships, will keep their items hidden from their partners.  "It's financial infidelity," he says. "When people have an addiction, they lie and hide, and it's a breach of trust."


No. 3: Isolation. In hiding his addiction, Jack says he stopped socializing with friends and relatives to avoid having them see what he'd accumulated. Shulman agrees: "Although shopping is legal, there's a lot of shame and embarrassment with it."


20 Year Anniversary of My Father's Death


April 20, 2013 is the 20th anniversary of my father, Robert Shulman's, death at age 53. I'll be 48 in June and my father suffered a severe stroke when he was 48 and was in wheelchair the last 4 years of his life. It's strange to think that I'm nearing the age of his stroke and, later, his death. Though he died of "natural causes," very little about my father's life was "natural" or "normal" in the usual sense of things. He died abroad in Europe, supposedly looking for some miracle cure. I've always thought it was just a cover for a last hurrah.


My relationship with my father was a constant source of angst and puzzlement while he was living; not much has changed since he passed. 


It amazes me how much I am like my father--for better and for worse. Like my father, I have possessed both artistic and entrepreneurial creativities and ambitions. My father was a child prodigy pianist, studying from the age of 4 and playing with local symphonies by age 8. He was multi-talented and multi-faceted. He also became a successful attorney. Like my father, who by his late 20's had become a severe alcoholic and "manic-depressive," I've suffered from depression and addictions, too.


When my mother divorced him, I was 11 years old and my younger brother was 5. I became the man of the house. Though I looked up to my father for his musical and intellectual brilliance, I couldn't understand why he couldn't stop drinking and just get his life together. Even later in life, when I understood more about alcoholism and mental illness, I still felt perplexed and frustrated over why he couldn't seem to beat or consistently manage his disease. 


Like any child, I longed to understand my father and to love him and feel his love. Though my brother and I saw him most weekends after the divorce, I rarely felt his strength and fuller presence. It always felt like my job to make him feel loved rather than the other way around. He rarely said the words "I love you" or "I'm proud of you," though we usually said good-bye with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. 


While I've accomplished a lot in my life--earning three college degrees, starting my own business, writing 4 books, marrying well and sustaining many wonderful friendships--I still sometimes compare myself to my father and feel less naturally brilliant. But in other moments, I wonder if his brilliance was a curse. 


Neither one of us had much of a childhood: he practiced and played piano from age 4 on, and I took on the role of surrogate husband and father at age 11. I think both of us felt the weight of this in later in our lives and gravitated toward addictions to numb the pain and fill the voids. 


I remember when I first got into therapy at age 25 after a decade of secret shoplifting and two arrests; I told myself: I don't want to end up like my father. It's an awful thing to say that. I wish his legacy were different. I've been trying to come to terms with forgiving him and honoring him. I do see how strong his disease was and how vulnerable he must have felt. I do have some compassion for my father but there's still that part of me that may never understand or accept how he didn't know how to love me. I surmise that my task is to love myself as I wished he had loved me. I don't always succeed in that. 


My Dad did some real bad things to me, painful things, things I'm still recovering from. And, yet, after 20 years, I really want to heal these things and move forward with a renewed spirit. I hope I get there. I hope I get there.




When the teachers cheat, what are students to think? Houston, we have a problem! The results are in--at least for the greater Atlanta public school system--and its superintendent and many other teachers and higher-ups were indicted for falsifying standardized test scores for many of their students. Their motives: fear of failing and getting reprimanded for their students not making the grade (pun intended) as well as hefty cash incentives if they did (we're talking tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars). A recipe for disaster, indeed.


Assumedly, the teachers (like most students who cheat) didn't think they'd get caught.


It's hard to say if these high-profile indictments will deter future cheating by teachers. I'd say it might deter a small percentage but not most. First, people have a tendency to think "it won't happen to me." Second, people often try to figure out other ways to "beat the system" and take advantage without detection. 


A recent article in Scientific American Mind magazine entitled "Why We Cheat" suggests that most people cheat but only cheat a little because it's easier to rationalize ("everybody cheats a little"). 


Perhaps we need to rethink ways to improve students scores or, more broadly, move away from students (and teachers) being evaluated on scores alone. And while some accountability (incentives) for students and teacher to excel may be understandable, I'm not sure being too heavy-handed in punishment or reward is the right way to go.


Honesty is its own reward.--Anonymous


Walk in peace.



The Shulman Center 2013 Events Calendar 


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 with360 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 two websites at: /



Gary Zeune of Columbus, Ohio has been a friend and colleague of mine for nearly two years. He has been a consultant and teacher on fraud discovery and prevention for nearly 30 years. He is interviewed in my book Cluttered Lives, Empty Souls: Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding. I recently saw Gary in action recently when he presented an all-day on fraud to metro-Detroit accountants. 



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



I recently was told about a website resource that lists strategies for cleaning and de-cluttering and sells various books and products that help with this; so, I'm passing it along... See:




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:





CLES cover 

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 a 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).