The Shulman Center

Terrence Shulman
Founder/Director of
The Shulman Center

Terry Shulman

October 2010 Monthly e-Newsletter
" Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries "
By Terrence Daryl Shulman

Happy Autumn! Happy Birthday to my brother Jordy--39! Happy Halloween!

Check out our new 1-hour employee theft online course. Learn why people commit employee theft, how to deter/prevent it, what to do when confronted.

Check out our newest short videos on shoplifting addiction, shopping addiction, & employee theft:

Check out our new websites for therapy for hoarding & cluttering at

See our web-videos now on YouTube! Search under "Terrence Shulman" or "The Shulman Center". See

3rd International Conference on Compulsive Theft & Spending tentatively set for October 1, 2011--details to be announced!


I've been thinking about boundaries a lot lately. I've done a lot of work on boundaries and thought I'd already "semi-mastered" them. But as the saying goes: "the more you know, the more you learn you don't know." What, exactly, are boundaries? Where do we learn about them?  When are boundaries too soft? When are they too rigid? What are the boundaries of good taste and appropriateness, in politics and in our personal lives?

One simple definition of boundaries is "where you end and I begin." Boundaries are limits we can set to let other people know: "This is how far I am willing to go," "This is what I will or won't do for you," and "This is what I will or will not tolerate from you." (Esther Kane, MSW)

It should come as no surprise that most addicts--even most recovering addicts--have fuzzy notions about boundaries and what they are and when they are needed. In essence, addictive behaviors are characterized by a loss of boundaries: too much drinking, drugging, gambling, spending, stealing, sex, work, eating, lying, etc. And most addicts end up violating not only their own boundaries but the boundaries of others and even the boundaries of the law.

Learning what boundaries are and how to set them is no small task. In addition, many or most of us tend to get upset if others set boundaries upon us--especially if we feel they are unfair. Learning how to hear "no" is also an important growth step.

Most of us learn (or don't learn) about boundaries from our parents and family system--and they typically learned about (or didn't learn about) boundaries from their parents and family system. Boundaries can be too loose--such as when there's physical, sexual or emotional abuse; or they can be too rigid--such as when there's physical or emotional neglect or abandonment. Boundaries can also be fuzzy or confusing such as with enmeshment or when there are family secrets. And, of course, many of us grew up with addicted parents.

The first movement toward establishing healthy boundaries in our lives is to learn we have a right to boundaries--even as children... especially as children! Of course, as children, we find ourselves in a fairly dependent state and, over time, our task is to individuate and establish autonomy and a degree of interdependence or even independence. Co-dependence often results as a kind of purgatory or no-man's land, a limbo in between where we don't know where we stop and others begin. In essence, we lose ourselves--is it any wonder, addictions often follow?

Even just speaking our mind, our opinion, our truth is a way of announcing who we are and what we stand for. In both our speaking and in our action, we must learn to be assertive rather than passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive.

Life never stops giving us opportunities to learn about and set new about boundaries. In the last 2 years, I feel like I've been enrolled in a graduate course. When I was being sued in 2009 and felt somebody was trying to take something valuable away from me I felt strongly I needed to say "no" you can't have this and fought the lawsuit. Along the way, I reached out for help in various forms, financial and emotional. In one instance, I felt very hurt when I didn't receive the level of support I hoped and expected to receive. I had a hard time hearing and accepting boundaries myself. I did my best to express my hurt rather than hide it but it resulted in hurt on both sides. As a result, I've had to re-evaluate the limitations of others as well as myself. New rules and new boundaries have developed which often feel awkward but seem to me necessary.

In another instance, I had two close friends who were involved in a domestic dispute which resulted in police charges. I was asked by one friend for help and I did my best to help without getting too involved. This friend appeared disappointed by my limits but I had a number of reasons not to go further. While I believe the circumstances are different in some important ways from my lawsuit crisis last year, I got to experience the other side of asking for help--being asked for help. It's not easy to ask for help and it's not easy to set limits.

Even more recently, I was petitioned to mediate and resolve some interpersonal conflicts between two parties. I honestly struggled with how involved to get in this dispute with one party urging great involvement and the other party telling me, essentially, to stay out of it. I did my best to play the middle and ruffled feathers on both sides before finding what I felt was an adequate balance and an appropriate resolution--neither too harsh nor too lenient.

Boundaries are a necessity to success in recovery and in life. Without them, we are lost. We are all practicing the art of balancing between too many boundaries and too loose boundaries. What a good feeling when we get it right--even if it hurts.

What boundaries are you working on lately? What boundaries are you not setting? What boundaries are you violating? What boundaries have others set which you have trouble honoring and respecting?

The following are some good points about boundaries from Esther Kane, MSW with permission.

* * *
From Esther Kane, MSW

    10 Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries

  1. Talking at an intimate level at the first meeting.
  2. Falling in love with a new acquaintance.
  3. Going against personal values or rights to please others.
  4. Touching a person without asking.
  5. Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you.
  6. Letting others direct your life.
  7. Falling apart so someone will take care of you.
  8. Accepting food, gifts, touch, or sex that you don't want.
  9. Being overwhelmed by a person- preoccupied with thoughts of them.
  10. Letting others describe your reality and/or define who you are.

    5 Tips for Setting Boundaries with Others

  1. When you identify you need to set a limit with someone, do it clearly, preferably without anger, and in as few words as possible. Avoid justifying, rationalizing, or apologizing. Offer a brief explanation, if it makes sense to do that. We cannot maintain intimate relationships until we can tell others what hurts us and what feels good.
  2. You cannot simultaneously set a boundary and take care of another person's feelings. The two acts are mutually exclusive.
  3. You will probably feel ashamed and afraid when you set boundaries. Do it anyway. People may not know that they are trespassing. Also, people don't respect others whom they can use. People use those they can use, and respect people they cannot use. Healthy limits benefit everyone. Children and adults will feel more comfortable around you if you have strong boundaries.
  4. Anger, rage, complaining, and whining are clues to boundaries we need to set. The things we say we can't stand, don't like, feel angry about, and hate may be areas crying out for boundaries. When we feel those strong feelings, they are indicators of problems, like a flashing red light on the car dashboard. As well, shame and fear may be the barrier we need to break through to take care of ourselves. Other clues that we may need to set a boundary are feeling threatened, "suffocated," or victimized by someone. We may need to get angry to set a boundary, but we don't need to stay resentful to enforce it.
  5. We'll be tested when we set boundaries. Plan on it. It doesn't do any good to set a boundary until we're ready to enforce it. Often, the key to boundaries isn't convincing other people we have limits -- it's convincing ourselves! Once we really know what our limits are, it won't be difficult to convince others. In fact, people often sense when we've reached our limit. We'll stop attracting so many boundary invaders. Things will change when we decide to change.



C.A.S.A.--(Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous) celebrated its 18 year birthday in metro-Detroit last month. We had 15 members attend. The mood was positive and also pensive about how group membership has dwindled a bit of late. C.A.S.A. is the oldest current support group of its kind in the U.S. If anyone, is interested in starting a C.A.S.A. group, please contact us. We have about 15 similar groups throughout the U.S. as well as an online group and phone conference groups.

Our vision is that one day there will be a C.A.S.A.-like group in every major city in the U.S. and beyond.


I recently attended NAADAC's "Conference on Addictive Disorders" in Washington, DC September 8-11. It was a great conference. Nearly 1,000 people attended from across the U.S. and Canada, mostly fellow mental health professionals. I was privileged to present a 90-minute seminar on compulsive shopping and spending which roughly 60 people attended. I was encouraged by the level of interest and the honest sharing in the group. Many therapists admitted they have problems with shopping and spending, too! It is gratifying to see this topic gaining respect and validity. Our hope is that more mental health professionals learn about this disorder and how to assess and treat it effectively.


We know many addictions lead to tragedy and even death but I recently came across an article with the above headline. I went online and read about the 1994 case of Dana Sue Gray who, among other issues, had a terrible obsession with shopping which, in part, led her to desperate measures: murder to get money to shop with! This tragedy reminded me of the time about 2 years ago where a Wal-Mart employee in New York was trampled to death on Black Friday as shoppers stormed through the doors to get day-after-Thanksgiving bargains. Makes you think.

See full article on Dana Sue Gray at:


Well, what can be said? We note the recent arrest this past month of Paris Hilton in Las Vegas on a cocaine possession charge (which she later pled guilty to and avoided jail) and the positive drug test of Lindsay Lohan while on probation which sent her back to jail.

These cases highlight the power of addiction and its denial process. They are also troubling because so many young people--girls especially--look up to these two women and even aspire to be just like  them: beautiful, desired, popular, care-free, seemingly invincible.

It is easy to laugh about the plights of these two celebrities but, in truth, drug addiction--any addiction--is a sad, desperate situation which could lead to death.

See full articles at:,0,6564434.story?track=rss


Recently, a new shopping trend has sprung up which has become especially popular with young girls and teenagers called "haul videos." They are popping up all over YouTube. Shoppers go to their favorite stores and load up, buying as much as they can afford, and then haul home the booty and turn on their video camera and share about the fruits of their shopping sprees and upload it to the Web. It's apparently great advertising for the stores--some of which are producing their own haul videos or hiring people to do so. In this age of troubled economy and with increasing awareness about the dangers of addictive shopping, it is sad to see such young people bragging and boasting and encouraging such behavior. Where are the parents and what do they think about this?



Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, a former shopaholic and debtor herself, outlines 10 tips on how to best get out of credit card debt. Ms.Khalfani-Cox is a guest expert on many cable TV financial segments.




We recently highlighted the growing trend of "flash sales" in stores and online--sales which pop up very quickly and end very quickly, especially for high-end items at reduced prices. The three most popular online sites--Rue La La, Gilt Group, and HauteLook--are quickly gaining popularity and are the "crack cocaine" of the shopping world. The New York Times recently ran an article by a journalist who confessed even to her own "addiction."



Here just northeast of the heart of my city, Detroit, the trendy and exclusive 5-cities of "The Pointes" were featured in a recent Time magazine article. With the local and national economy shaken, the article highlights the changes in consumers' shopping attitudes and behaviors by interviewing members of a neighborhood "Moms' Club." The article also explores the competitive nature of keeping up with the Joneses and how the falling real estate market has forced out many neighbors while bringing in new faces at bargain basement prices and some of the resentment that follows. It's a good read about our changing world and how people are adapting to it.

See article at:,29307,2019759_2190536,00.html


A reminder: The Shulman Center offers counseling services here in the metro-Detroit area, by phone 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


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!


There are many great books on boundaries. Please read anything by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Charles Whitfield, Anne Katherine, or Anne Linden. Another good recent book is David Hawkins' "Dealing with The Crazy Makers in Your Life" (2007).


September 8-11--Mr. Shulman was a guest presenter on compulsive shopping and spending at NAADAC's National Conference on Addiction Disorders near Washington, D.C.

September 28--Mr. Shulman was interviewed live on the radio on shopping/spending addiction on -- broadcast out of Austin, Texas and throughout several states.

September: Mr. Shulman authored a chapter on employee theft for a U.K. book entitled "Risky Business: Psychological, Physical and Financial Costs of High-Risk Behaviors in Organizations" (Gower Press) which was released September 1, 2010.

September: Mr. Shulman contributed a paragraph to Wikipedia's online article on kleptomania at

October 12/13--Mr. Shulman will be a featured presenter on employee theft at the Annual Radio Shack Loss Prevention Conference in Dallas, Texas.

October 15--Mr. Shulman will be presenting a one hour seminar/discussion on business ethics and loss prevention to a class of business school students at University of Detroit-Mercy.

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.

October--Mr. Shulman will have an article on compulsive theft and spending featured in the Fall edition of Addiction Professional magazine. See

October--Mr. Shulman will have an article and ad featured on

October--Mr. Shulman will be featured in a Milwaukee Magazine article on employee theft and shopping addiction. See

Mr. Shulman was featured in Real Simple magazine about compulsive shopping/spending. See

Mr. Shulman was 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 October...

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.

January/February 2011: Mr. Shulman will have an article on financial reocvery in Renew magazine at

February 4, 2011--Mr. Shulman will be presenting on employee theft at Washtenaw County Community College.

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's working on  a therapist certification program in compulsive theft/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.


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).

Click here to purchase

E-mail Mr. Shulman:


Call  (248) 358-8508