The Shulman Center

Terrence Shulman
Founder/Director of
The Shulman Center

Terry Shulman

July 2010 Monthly e-Newsletter
"Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose"
Terrence Daryl Shulman

ANNOUNCEMENTS! Happy Independence Day!

Check out our newly updated blog at

Check out our seven new short uploaded webvideos on shoplifting addiction, employee theft, and compulsive shopping/spending at:

New websites under construction as we expand our services to include therapy for hoarding and cluttering. See and


What Do Freedom and Independence Mean to You?

Janis Joplin once sang in the song "Me and Bobby McGee": "freedom's just another word for nothing less to lose." It's an oft-repeated and iconic line. Many of us have felt the brunt of many losses over the last year be they job, financial, home, material, relational, health, or more. there's no making light of this, of course, but I was talking to a friend recently--a former shopaholic--who had recently lost her home, most of her job income, and truckloads of things she had accumulated over the years. As she downsized from her home to a smaller rental home to yet another smaller rental home and purged most of her non-essential materials things, she remarked how much lighter, happier, and free she feels. She is starting a new chapter in her life and, with some anxiety, she also feels more hopeful and excited about the chance to reinvent herself and also reclaim parts of her authentic self which she had lost sight of. Sometimes, things just weigh us down. Can you relate?

As we approach the U.S. 4th of July Independence Day holiday, take a moment to consider what freedom and independence mean to you? In these economically challenging and globally volatile times, it is easy to focus on the importance of financial independence and freedom from anxiety. These are wonderful goals. Still, maybe we can appreciate whatever freedoms we do currently enjoy.
For most of us, we have our physical freedom to move about and our freedom of self-expression and our freedom to pursue a life of authentic meaning and purpose. We can claim our independence from addictions and from dysfunctional relationships and our right to vote independently for what we believe in.

True, we must co-exist among a multitude of individuals and systems with which we don't always agree but compared to most systems and countries, we have many more rights and privileges which we too often take for granted. Life may not be perfect but this holiday allows an opportunity to soak
in the gifts of freedom and independence that we may not have had in the past or may not have in the future. So, whatever you're doing this holiday--relaxing, spending time with family or friends, enjoying the weather and some fine food--slow down and embrace our freedoms and independence--two of our greatest assets. __________________________________________________________________________________


Does art imitate life or the other way around? Both? Some may be familiar with several fairly recent TV series about how average people pushed to the brink by financial crises turn to creative--and illegal--enterprises to "make ends meet." In "Breaking Bad" on AMC Channel, a show which just completed its 3rd season, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer and loses his job succumbs to pressures and begins manufacturing crystal methamphetamine and finds himself way in over his head and his very life threatened. In "Hung" (which takes place and is filmed in and around my hometown of Detroit), a high school coach and Phys Ed teacher finds his job in jeopardy after a divorce and fire damage to his home. "Hung" just started its second season and the main character begins working part-time as a male prostitute.

Recent trends have shown the downward economy has contributed to an uptick in crime committed not only by "career criminals" but also by "ordinary people" pushed to desperate measures. These crimes include shoplifting and employee theft. My intention is not to be soft on breaking the law. Obviously, not everyone who goes through life struggles puts morality on a shelf. But who can say what each person's limits are? Have you ever said or done something in the midst of extreme stress which you wouldn't have otherwise?

My point is: these are vulnerable and volatile times. Nobody has to remind us of that. Still, we each need to keep our wits about us and stay attentive for loved ones who may be succumbing to life's troubled waters. Cutting corners and breaking the law most often result in arrest, fines, a criminal record, thus further complicating our lives rather than simplifying them. Counseling, medication, support groups, and books may be helpful resources for those struggling.



I recently was a guest expert on compulsive shopping and "returnaholics" on NBC's The Today Show. A "returnaholic" is someone who buys and returns goods excessively either with fraudulent intent, or dishonest intent, or simply due to being out of control. Apparently, this is a growing trend and a concern for many regular and online retailers. According to some sources, retailers lose between $10 to $15 billion a year due to fraudulent or excessive returns because most items can't be resold or can't be resold at their original price. This increases the price of consumer goods for all of us, thus creating a vicious cycle for many returnaholics who feel they can't afford to actually purchase and keep most merchandise.

There are three basic types of returnaholics: those whose intent is to commit fraud through tricking a retailer into giving a cash refund or credit which is illegal; those who aren't breaking the law but who buy merchandise knowing they will return it later; and those who are sometimes referred to as "bulimic shoppers" who feel compelled to buy things to get a high or fill a void of sorts and then who feel sick afterwards and have to "purge" their purchases through returning most or all of them.

In my work with shoplifting and shopping addicts, I often see people who have confused ideas about right and wrong and who have a drive to "beat the system" or "have their cake and eat it, too"--this can lead to extreme bargain shopping and/or outright stealing. Many of my clients have reported price tag switching or even unlawfully altering or duplicating coupons (both of these acts constitute fraud). I've known and worked with persons who can cross-over from bulimic shoppers into manipulative returnaholics into downright fraudsters. It's a sad cycle and such a waste of time and energy.

Some theories about why "returnaholism" seems to be growing include the downward economy (people just don't have the money to spend and keep things), increased pressure to consume and have (even for a short time) the latest in designer clothes or goods, greater fluctuations in dieting and weight loss (including surgeries) which cause size and style changes to fluctuate wildly, the increase in impulsive Internet shopping which leads to more frequent "buyer's remorse," and continued competition among retailers to offer liberal and lenient return policies to attract and retain customers. However, this last item is beginning to change as some retailers are having to set limits on returns by tracking people's shopping history through software programs.

See The Today Show segment at:

Interesting Articles in The News Recently About Shoplifting

Some may have heard that Connecticut TV and Radio personality Desiree Fontaine was arrested in mid-June on suspicion of shoplifting just over $100 of merchandise from a Sears store in Milford, CT. The fact that a high-profile, well-liked and, assumedly, well-compensated individual is caught shoplifting should not be news. This happens all the time. What may be more interesting is if she actually pleads guilty--most "celebrities" fight these cases (remember Winona?) or quietly make some deal and we never get more than a vague apology: "It was an accident," or "I don't know what came over me." As we track this story for you, maybe we'll find something more revealing and helpful to the public at large. My own hunch is she has some hidden stress or conflict in her life and this was and is her awkward cry for help. I hope she takes this opportunity and gets it.


The New York Times recently ran an article exposing a growing trend within the City (and elsewhere?) among Asian-owned (especially Chinese) grocery stores which, when suspected shoplifters are apprehended, give said shoplifters a choice: return the item now, pay a stiff fine on the spot (usually hundreds of dollars, credit cards sometimes accepted) and they will be let go without the police being called. Some applaud these stores for making their own instant justice; others complain this is nothing than extortion without due process of law; and some even feel that this method lets people off too easy. Shoplifters themselves seem to be divided: some state they'd gladly pay up rather than risk even greater fines, possible incarceration, and a criminal record; others don't appreciate being held hostage and threatened. Investigations are under way by authorities to research the statues and whether any of this is even legal.


The Shulman Center Comes to You!

A reminder: The Shulman Center offers counseling services here in the metro-Detroit area, by telephone and/or SKYPE, or--in certain circumstances--we may be able to come to you. Please feel free to contact us to explore what option works best for you!_______________________________________________________________________

Free Intimacy with Money Telephone Seminars

It is with great excitement and confidence that I 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.

To learn more and to register, please go to:

New Website of Interest: run by Lora Sasiela. Check it out!

Books of the month:
 We're open to suggestions! Let us know a good book on addiction/recovery which you've read recently and which we can recommend to others.In the meantime, we'd also like to recommend the "Big Books" of Sexaholics Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous for those struggling with sexual addiction. 

Compulsive Theft & Spending in The News! June/July 2010:.

June 27th--Mr. Shulman was a featured guest expert on compulsive shopping/returnaholism on NBC's The Today Show. See link

June--Mr. Shulman was featured in an article about shoplifting and employee theft in Dance Retailer magazine.

Mr. Shulman will be featured in Real Simple magazine about compulsive shopping/spending.

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

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

Beyond July...

August--Mr.Shulman will be presenting a seminar on employee theft deterrence and prevention for the metro-Detroit Agency on The Aging.

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.

September: Mr. Shulman authored a chapter on employee theft for a U.K. book entitled "Risky Business" which will be released.

October 29--Mr. Shulman will be a featured presenter on compulsive shopping/spending and hoarding at a metro-Detroit all-day addiction conference for mental health professionals.

December 1-4--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on employee theft detection and prevention at The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

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, offered through The American Psychotherapy Association, is available for purchase by APA members and non-members. CEs are available. He is also working on authoring a therapist certification program in compulsive theft and spending for the APA. See

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).

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 consultation!

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 available 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