The Shulman Center 1


    Greetings from The Shulman Center!

Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding Newsletter 

October 2013 -- Happy Halloween!


   Serving People 
Since 1992!



Quotes of the Month


We may change with the seasons but the seasons won't change us. --Khalil Ghibran


Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower. --Albert Camus


The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility; humility is endless.--T.S. Eliot


Even if something is left undone, everyone must sit still and watch the leaves turn. -- Elizabeth Laurence 


The only interesting answers are those which destroy the questions. -- Susan Sontag


Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers, we more than gain in fruit. -- Samuel Butler


The veil between us and the divine is more permeable than we imagine. -- Sue Patton Thoele


How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days. -- John Burroughs



Stats/Facts of the Month


54% of Americans say they feel little or no economic improvement since the 2008 financial crisis. (Washington Post and ABC News)


September 2013 stats

US avg. household debt

$15,185 credit cards

$147,133 mortgage

$31,509 student loans


In total, Americans owe

$11.3 trillion (down 2% from last year)

$849.8 billion in credit card debt

$7.81 trillion in mortgages

$996.7 billion in student loans (an increase of 6.2% from last year)


Source: The Federal Reserve Bank and Nerd Wallet 


6,150,598 property crimes committed in the U.S. in 2012 (roughly unchanged from 2011).

Source: F.B.I. 



Person of the Month:

Diana Nyad

If you ever needed a reminder that age is just a number, you might have heard about 64-year old swimmer Diana Nyad's historic non-stop swim last month from Cuba to Key West, Florida. Her fifth try at this feat in the last 35 years was finally a success!


Braving cold, choppy, and shark and jellyfish-infested waters, Ms. Nyad completed the 103 mile journey in just over two days--53 hours or so. 


"Find a way" is her motto. She is an inspiration not only for women or older adults or even athletes but for anyone who has a goal and has not yet found a way to reach it.



Book of the Month:


The Catcher in the Rye


J.D. Salinger


I remember first reading this book in high school (in the early 80's). I wasn't much of a reader back then, preferring to play sports and music, but It made enough of an impact on me that it spurred me to start reading and writing more. 


I could relate to the book's protagonist, a teenage boy named Holden Caulfield, who through depressive episodes and pubescent hormonal changes and rites of passage, tries to make sense of his world.


I remember re-reading the book in college. i ended up majoring in English Literature and flirted with the idea of becoming a creative writing teacher. Now, nearly 30 years later, I just picked it up for a third time. 


The Catcher in The Rye, like most great works, is one of those art forms which deserve a revisit as we age both to bring back memories of where and who we were when we read it earlier and to see how it lands with us presently in our life's journey.


This 1951 book and its elusive author are getting renewed press of late. A book and a film, both entitled "Salinger," have just been released.


Dive in!



Films of the Month:



Thanks for Sharing


Don Jon






Three new movies have just opened and I haven't seen any of them but hope to soon.


"Thanks for Sharing" follows the lives of three friends who meet while attending 12-step meetings to help treat their addiction to sex. The patriarch of the group is Mike, a recovering addict whose twenty-something son has returned home after months away struggling with his own issues. 


Mike's sponsee is Adam, who has been a success story of the program for six years due mainly to his on-going celibacy. That is until he starts a relationship with the woman of his dreams, Phoebe, and finds it difficult to control the urges he has supressed for so long. 


Together, Mike and Adam befriend an obnoxious young doctor whose uncontrollable addiction is ruining his medical career. Will his newfound friendship with group newcomer Dede be the only thing that will save him from himself?


"Don Jon" chronicles the life of Jon Martello is a strong, handsome, good old fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to "pull" a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn't compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography.


Barbara Sugarman is a bright, beautiful, good old fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she's determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset. Wrestling with good old fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy


"Salinger" is a docu-drama about reclusive and mysterious author J.D. Salinger (who died recently)--the author of "The Catcher in The Rye" and other stories. It explores the myths and truths of the man behind the book(s) and what made him write it and what made him turn away so quickly from the fame and fortune it brought him.



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


August 30, 2013--Mr. Shulman was quoted in an article on credit card use rules vs. breaking rules of use for


September 17, 2103--Mr. Shulman presented on organizing and clearing out clutter at The Franklin (MI) Public Library.


September 23, 2103--Mr. Shulman was quoted in an article about men and shopping addiction in a Hong Kong newspaper magazine. 


October 2013--Mr. Shulman has an article about honesty in the workplace in the Jack Hayes International quarterly newsletter. 


October 2, 2013--Mr. Shulman will be have a booth at the Annual Royal Oak, MI Health and Wellness Fair. 


October 4, 2013--Mr. Shulman is meeting with the founder and editor of In Recovery magazine in Prescott, AZ.


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


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


November  2, 2013--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on hoarding disorder at the Redford Public Library in Redford, MI. 


November 5, 2013--Mr. Shulman will present on hoarding disorder to Michigan Nurses and Medical Social Workers Association. 


November 7, 2013--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on hoarding disorder at The Community House in Birmingham, MI. 


March 1, 2014--Mr. Shulman will present at The Betty Ford Treatment Center in Rancho Mirage, CA on compulsive theft, spending and hoarding. 


May 14, 2014--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on hoarding disorder to the Oakland County (Michigan) Employee Wellness Program. 




NOTE: If you're a therapist, please consider contacting us to enroll in our brief, affordable local or virtual training to become more proficient at assessing and treating compulsive stealing, spending and/or hoarding disorders. See Training


A recent testimonial from July 2013: 


"Thanks to Terry's help I feel confident that I can now provide 

effective treatment for compulsive spending. I'm glad 

I consulted with him early in my career."

Zac Rhodenizer, M.Ed.
Alberta, Canada 


Fall: The Season of Change


2013 has certainly been a year of change for many of us on many levels. Change can feel particularly jarring when it seems to arrive not of our own conscious choices. Change can be frightening when we have to change our beliefs as well as our actual modes of operating. We need new paradigms for meeting change--individually and collectively--if we are to evolve. We may have to change our ways of "doing business as usual"--in our actual businesses as well as in our relationships, managing our health, and in other dimensions of our lives.

We have a tendency toward complacency and settling back into old routines, whether this is the case with addiction relapses or old ways of thinking. Even the word "fall" as in "autumn" conjures not only the image of falling leaves but, perhaps, of allowing ourselves to fall, or surrender, in order to rise, move forward, and grow.


So, as we enter the fall season--the season of change--we may either be resisting change or hoping and praying for change. Or maybe a little of both. As summer fades and we naturally begin to turn inward with the fading temperatures, we might as well embrace or allow ourselves to "fall forward" into transformation. After all, life is calling us forward not backward.


Neale Donald Walsch's (the "Conversations with God" author) released a book several years ago entitled "When Everything Changes, Change Everything." In that book, Walsch talked about how change can feel threatening to our very notions of safety and security. However, change is also inevitable ("the only thing that is certain is change"). Change is how we grow. The only question is whether we evolve or regress. Sometimes it seems we need to regress before we evolve.

Walsch defines change this way: "Change is the shifting of any circumstance, situation, or condition, physical or non-physical, in such a way that the original is rendered not merely different from what it was, but altered so radically as to make it utterly unrecognizable and impossible to return to anything resembling its former state."

Does this resonate with you? Real change, thus, can feel like death: death of our former selves.

So, in what ways do you feel change beckoning you? Health? Finances? Employment? Relationships? Moving? New projects or goals? Remember: we can resist or welcome change; nothing stagnant grows.



The Budget and Debt Ceiling Battle


As of this writing, the U.S. Congress is at a stalemate: the government may shut down, the debt ceiling limit may not be raised, and a new budget may not be passed. This likely will have severe consequences on many Americans as well as the global economy. Regardless of your politics, let's hope our economy doesn't take a hit. While, in theory, one doesn't want to spend money unnecessarily when in debt, we do have to pay the debts we accumulated, and sometimes we have to invest money in making more money. 


Clients often come to me in debt and want counseling yet say "I can't afford it, I'm in debt." Well, rarely is there something for nothing and many of these same clients continue to spend while seeking help. This is one definition of insanity. Let's hope our Congress moves past the gridlock and insanity of partisanship to keep our country's economy and the world economy moving forward.



States Passing Tougher Shoplifting Laws


Police and prosecutors in Michigan have a new took in their collective tool bag to help them punish shoplifters. It's no small problem in this country. The National Retail Federation figures retailers lose upwards of $34 billion each year to retail theft or what's called "shrink." More than half of that is caused by sticky-fingered shoppers or dishonest employees, and the NRF figures that costs you up to $500 each year.


Now, shoplifters in Michigan face the prospect of prison time and fines. Shoplifting has been moved up from a misdemeanor to a felony called "Organized retail crime" punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of $5,000, or both.


Can we expect this new law to slow down shoplifters? And what about Michigan's already-overcrowded prisons?


My commentary: While I don't have much sympathy for "professional shoplifters or thieves," I worry that this law may not have the impact it hopes to--regardless of my understanding why they enacted it and that this trend appears to be seeping the nation. One concern I have is that many "low-end/non-professional" shoplifters who may be stealing certain items to sell to pay for essentials will be lumped in with the "big boy" ring members. Such an example is noted in the audio-story along with the link below. Another concern, as expressed in the audio-story, is that the cost of incarcerating people for longer periods of time will be borne by the taxpayers and may not even ultimately deter most of those punished except to take them out of society for longer periods of time. I don't have the answer but I don't think longer sentences will reduce or deter many true thieves. 


See: Shoplifting



Men Can Be Shopaholics, Too--Anywhere!

by Evsn Otashi, Hong Kong News


There are many ways for Hongkongers to cope with the stresses of the city - and escape from it. We are blessed with an abundance of beautiful, scenic nature where a myriad of activities are available that don't involve phones, computers or impeccably tailored suits. We can hike away the tension, barbeque the ill will or, if just a day isn't enough time away from the city, camp out overnight and continue getting in touch with Hong Kong's incredible natural surroundings. Not to mention our little island lies smack dab in the South China Sea, offering us sweet relief from the heat and humidity.


Of course, this being Hong Kong, it has conveniently included no shortage of choices when it comes to spending your hard-earnt money as a way to relax - in the city - as well. While the idea of spare time in and of itself is quite a luxury here, between the hot weather and abundance of malls, the idea of spending an afternoon in an air conditioned mecca of consumerism often doesn't sound like too bad of a proposition to overworked Hongkongers. In fact, it would appear that retail therapy is the most popular and in-demand therapist in Hong Kong.


How, then, do males in particular alleviate the strains of working and living in Hong Kong? Despite the known pitfalls of resorting to extended bouts of retail therapy, can it actually help in a high-stress environment like Hong Kong? Is it really so wrong to want to reward oneself for their hard work?


Terrence Shulman is the founder of The Shulman Centre for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding and author of the book Bought Out and $pent! Recovery from Compulsive $hopping and $pending. He says: "While there is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself or others by buying things with your hard- earnt money, the question is: when is it too much? It is the same with drinking or eating, gambling, dating, sex and so on - when does it negatively affect your budget, your time, your relationships, your other hobbies and interests, your obligations, your self-esteem?"


If too much of a good, enjoyable recreational activity can prove to be hazardous, what's a more stable way to go about this?


Shulman says: "A more balanced approach for most would be to put aside a good portion of one's income for savings or retirement and to invest in a decent home, car, food or medical insurance. If we over-identify with things to reward ourselves, or to mark our hard work or success, this is dangerous for our overall self- esteem which ought to be made up of many things."


Shulman also believes dangerous scenarios can arise from a lack of inhibition regarding spending. He asks: "What if one loses one's job and income or maxes out one's credit cards - then what happens to one's sense of self? It plummets and could even lead to suicidal thoughts or criminal behaviours like stealing to continue to get stuff."


Generally, what are some of the things men like to buy most when shopping then?


Shulman lists: "Electronics, hardware, books, CDs, DVDs, collectibles, clothing, golf gear, hobby stuff and in more extreme cases, cars, fancy vacations, entertainment and the like."


So, does male retail therapy affect single men differently from those in a relationship?


Shulman believes it's possible. He says: "It may, single men may be more into clothing - to attract a mate - and also may be more into buying things for others to gain affection and attention." Although, as Shulman notes: "More and more younger people are doing most of their shopping online instead of in stores, so this is true for a lot of singles both male and female."


For single guys, retail therapy can be an especially sharp double-sided sword. Fierce competition isn't just confined to the business landscape in Hong Kong; it can also extend to relationships. In a city seemingly brimming with wildly successful people, it's rather easy to feel insecure and attempt to overcompensate in other ways. Studies have shown that single men and women that shop to cure loneliness only make things worse for themselves. Shopping, although enjoyable at the time, is only a temporary fix. It's merely a band- aid on a large wound, the happiness is short-lived and before you know it you're even more miserable than before. It was found to be the same results for those who shop to ease their anxiety.


Furthermore, it is believed that those who shop to relieve stress eventually shift to eating to relieve stress and finally may find themselves becoming stress exercisers (is the latter really such a bad thing?). Some might not only purchase items to feel better about themselves, but also with the hopes of attracting a potential love interest. Thinking in this way can lead to the whole exercise becoming counterproductive since you are no longer even shopping for yourself, but rather with your dream girl on your mind.


Shulman believes this phenomenon is certainly plausible. He says: "Single men may be into image shopping more - buying things to impress others more."


However, Shulman also adds another interesting factor into the equation. "Many single men are younger - not always, though, as some are divorced - so their income may be either less, because they are newer to the workforce, or more, because they don't have the bills that come with a family or house mortgage."


And it's not just when looking for love that men can feel down on their luck in Hong Kong and seek retail therapy. The city is covered in billboards and advertisements suggesting expensive ways to spend your hard-earnt money. The streets are filled with cars many of us could only dream of ever driving. Not to mention the doomed hope of ever owning property in this crowded town.


Then, do men prefer to buy expensive items - budget permitting - or cheaper items? Does the price even really matter when it comes to retail therapy?


Shulman believes it depends and varies based on the situation. He says: "There are some people who are image or trophy shoppers - or collectors - who spend a lot. And then there are bargain shoppers who tend to spend a lot over time but a little each time. There are also men - and women - who shop more for others than themselves, often in order to buy love and appreciation."


The stereotypical image associated with shopping used to be either a group of women with bags on each arm or couples in which the man is carrying multiple bags while his significant other browses shop after shop. These days, chances are you will still see girlfriends shopping together and couples too - though maybe sharing the burden of holding purchases since men are much more apt to purchase things. However, one thing you really don't see too often is a group of guys shopping together.


Call it a male stigma, insecurities, or just a plain disdain for shopping in public, but men, despite our growing interest in buying stuff, seem to prefer a more private setting when making purchases. Not to mention being able to avoid crowded malls and overzealous salespeople constantly hovering over your shoulder.


So, are there other reasons men seek comfort and relief through shopping? Are they similar or different from women's reasons?


Shulman says: "In essence, men and women are more similar than we think. Men and women shop out of loneliness, to impress or convey status, or to lift themselves out of depression."


However, one interesting difference between male and female shopping habits Shulman has observed is: "Men more often tend to collect things like CDs, DVDs, books, electronics, comics, and engage in project-like shopping where they can build things. Women do tend to shop more for clothing, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics, things for the home and things for others." Thus, the advent of online shopping has been quite the godsend for many a man. Although unable to try on something or see how a gadget feels in their hands, the privacy felt behind a computer screen has helped give rise to the phenomenon of male retail therapy.


But, Shulman warns, women are getting caught up in the online shopping craze as well. He says: "Due to the onset of internet shopping, both men and women are getting hooked at an alarming rate. Men may seek to shop more due to stress relief whereas women may shop more to fill a void that is left by unsatisfying relationships."


Unfortunately, as lucky as you may be to have a girlfriend, part of what comes with the territory may include sitting for extended periods in a store's uncomfortable leather chair while a loved one painstakingly scours the inventory.


Shulman feels many or most men prefer online shopping, but not all. He adds: "I'd say slightly more men have an online shopping problem than women, although that's changing too."


Yet, while retail therapy is supposed to help ease the burdens life brings our way, and one might assume that since we now have such an easily accessible remedy for stress that our relationships would flourish because of this, unfortunately, this is not the case. Over a course of time, research has found that relationships have suffered as a result of increased shopping, particularly when it comes to expensive purchases, something difficult to avoid in a luxury- loving city like Hong Kong.


Shulman believes that issues in a relationship from retail therapy don't always, but frequently do come up when they are purchasing expensive items that stretch the couple's budget. He says: "It's more the amount of time and the obsession or the space the shopping takes up. It takes away from relationships rather than adds to them. Also, there is often lying, hiding and deceitfulness for the shopping addict and that dishonesty impacts relationships negatively."


It would be one thing if a person were merely purchasing something compact such as comic books. But, if their favourite stress-relieving purchase involved cars, what with the lack of space in the city and eye- gouging prices for extra parking spaces, this could certainly put a damper on the relationship.


Due to the massive influx of tourists visiting Hong Kong, parts of the city such as Central - already one of the nicer areas in the city due to it being the business district - have been further transformed into centres of luxury shopping.


We all have our vices and particular ways to relieve the stress life throws at us. Despite the housing difficulties plaguing Hong Kong, one thing there is no shortage of is ways to spend our money. Indeed, this can be a very slippery slope, as Shulman notes. He warns: "Shopping and spending can be highly addictive and become a hard pattern to break."


While the pitfalls of using retail therapy as a form of stress relief have been well-documented, shopping has seemingly been ingrained into our inner consciences in Hong Kong. Due to the advent of shopping becoming one of the city's primary draws when it comes to attracting tourist dollars, residents of Hong Kong have gotten caught up in the residual effects from the transition.


There are, without a doubt, a bevy of recreational activities for Hongkongers to relax and have fun with; however, shopping remains an immensely popular pastime for people. By being offered such a wide range of consumer-based options, it also offers people a way to justify the hard work and long hours they put in by being able to treat them to some nice gifts and, in effect, display their success through head-turning cars and gaudy fashion.


With simmering tensions reverberating through the city due to a variety of factors, the last thing the government probably wants to do is upset the status quo further by discouraging shopping and flooding the television with more tiresome public service announcements. Despite researchers finding a correlation between shopping causing further discontent, the fact is Hong Kong is a unique situation.


Although some may well shop for these reasons, others may do it because it is seen as an example of status. The truth is, everything in Hong Kong costs money, at the very least one should have autonomy over how they spend it.



Honesty is its own reward.--Anonymous


Walk in peace.




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:



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:





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:


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. See:



Debbie Roes is an educator and recovering shopaholic and offers a free insightful blog and e-Newsletter to help you. 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).