ANNOUNCEMENTS! Happy Independence Day!
Check out our newly updated blog
Check out our seven new short uploaded webvideos
on shoplifting addiction, employee theft, and compulsive
shopping/spending at: http://theshulmancenter.com/videoarchive.html
New websites under construction as we
expand our services to include therapy for hoarding and cluttering. See www.hoardingtherapy.com
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. __________________________________________________________________________________
ECONOMY LEADING TO
TREND OF DESPERATION/ILLEGAL ENTERPRISE?
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
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
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.
RETURN OF THE
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
See The Today Show segment at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/37954907#379
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
Free Intimacy with Money Telephone
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,
To learn more and to register, please go to: http://www.sacredodyssey.com/iwmhome.html
Website of Interest: www.financiallysmitten.com
run by Lora Sasiela. Check it out!
Books of the
Compulsive Theft & Spending in The News! June/July
June 27th--Mr. Shulman was a featured guest expert on compulsive
shopping/returnaholism on NBC's The Today Show. See link http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/37954907#37954907
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
Mr. Shulman will be featured in articles in The Toronto Star newspaper
and in Canada's
Chatelaine magazine on shoplifting addiction.
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.
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.
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 http://www.americanpsychotherapy.com/
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
Mr. Shulman is consulting on a major motion picture tentatively called
"The Rush" in which the lead character is addicted to
shoplifting and stealing.
Shulman continues to assist the Kingman, Arizona court system with his
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.
The Shulman Center
P.O. Box 250008
Franklin, Michigan 48025
(248) 358-8508 for free consultation!
sites by Terrence Shulman:
Something For Nothing
Biting The Hand That Feeds
Out and $pent
for Purchase--ON SALE through 2009!
Shulman's three books "Something for Nothing: Shoplifting Addiction
& Recovery" and "Biting
The Hand That Feeds: The Employee Theft Epidemic... New Perspectives, New
"Bought Out and $pent! Recovery from Compulsive $hopping and
$pending" are available for $25.00
each (includes shipping/handling).
International Conference on Compulsive Theft & Spending 2 DVD set (6
Hours). Recorded 9/08. $100.00.
Click here to purchase