Shoplifting Addiction and Kleptomania on Oprah with Terrence Shulman [with CC]

OPRAH: This is Terry Shulman, author or Something for Nothing He is also a recovering shoplifter who stole more than a thousand times before combating his addiction

Today, Terry is a therapist who specializes in the treatment of this compulsion I know a lot of people who are sitting in the audience and a lot of people at home I don’t understand why this is an addiction I understand why alcohol is an addiction, because you have the genetic component I understand why drugs are addicting, because drugs are so powerful

I don’t understand why this is now an addiction or are we calling it a disease? TERRY: I’m calling it a disease OPRAH: OK Why is this a disease, because at any time, you could stop? TERRY: No OPRAH: OK That’s what I want you to tell me

Why at any time can’t you stop? TERRY: Well, that is the nature of an addictive process, whether it’s with drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, eating or shopping or shoplifting OPRAH: Uh huh TERRY: A lot of people have entitlement issues and feelings like life has been unfair This is not designed to excuse it, but people are vulnerable And once the get that first – OPRAH: OK

Let me stop you, Terry TERRY: Yeah OPRAH: If you got entitlement issues, why you taking bleu cheese? [LAUGHTER] If you got entitlement issues – TERRY: Absolutely TERRY: It has very little to do with the object taken

OPRAH: Yeah TERRY: Although at times there might be a bit of symbolism in the object taken But very often, it is the taking rather than what is taken – OPRAH: Uh huh TERRY: Which gives the rush OPRAH: OK

Watch what happened inside a shoplifter support group that Terry runs Take a look TERRY: So welcome to KASA, Kleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous KASA MEMBER 1: It’s been a rather tough week for me There hasn’t been a day this week that I haven’t shoplifted

KASA MEMBER 2: Every day I wake up, and I just ask, “Lord, prevent me from stealing” KASA MEMBER 3: I was a teacher, and here I am leading this double-life, doing these devious things on the weekends KASA MEMBER 4: I created an entirely secret life It was a Jekyll and Hyde existence KASA MEMBER 5: I was very religious, very compassionate, very caring

Yet underneath, I felt like a devil KASA MEMBER 6: It’s an adrenaline rush It’s a fix that you get from doing it You get so focused on what you have to do, I’d be oblivious to every person in that store, but I could pick out the security guards, the undercover people KASA MEMBER 7: I stole an executive chair that had a massager in it

And I’m only five feet tall, and I’m just carrying it right out the door [LAUGHTER] KASA MEMBER 8: I went in, picked out an air compressor It was probably four hundred pounds I couldn’t close my truck KASA MEMBER 9: Christmas, I would steal just about every gift

The guilt and shame on Christmas morning was just about more than I could bear KASA MEMBER 10: I’d sometimes toss the item I stole in a shopping cart and drive away, or I’d take it home and do whatever with it, shove it in my attic and not touch it again KASA MEMBER 11: I didn’t like the things I shoplifted KASA MEMBER 12: Each one of us every day go to great lengths to hide it KASA MEMBER 13: It steals your self-esteem

You learn to hate yourself KASA MEMBER 14: I used to bang on the steering wheel when I’d come out of the store, and just go, “Why, why, why are you doing this?” I’m just embarrassed in front of my kids I had to call them from jail to tell them what happened And they never knew I’d been doing it for twenty-five years I still cannot get over the feeling of the terrible, terrible thing I’d done

OPRAH: So, Terry, you run this TERRY: I founded it twelve years ago in Detroit, first to help me get on the path to recovery And I’ve met a thousand people over the last twelve years OPRAH: OK So you are recovered, but I understand you had a slip-up two weeks – TERRY: I’m in recovery

OPRAH: Yeah, you’re in recovery TERRY: Right OPRAH: So are you ever recovered? TERRY: I don’t tend to view it that way There’s differences of opinion But I liked the conventional wisdom, “Once an addict, always a recovering addict

” OPRAH: M’hmm TERRY: But yeah, I did have a slip-up after I got married Kind of a letting down of my guard I think all the excitement We were furnishing a new home

And it really did catch me off-guard And I like to think I’m living and breathing recovery every day, I’m pretty on top of things OPRAH: M’hmm TERRY: But it only goes to show And I had an incident where I was returning or trying to get a top to a lamp that was broken

And instead of waiting in line and actually going through the channels, I just ended up screwing off a top and pocketing it It was kind of interesting when I brought it home, my wife immediately discovered there was a new top on, she saw me screwing it on, she basically asked, “Hey, where’d you get that” And at that point I knew, being in recovery I was not going to lie on top of making it worse And that put a rift in our marriage right from the get-go for a short period of time The trust was broken

OPRAH: OK Something you just said here, “I think all of life is about finding a way to live your own truth” And so, once you come clean and can tell the truth, that is the road, is it not? TERRY: Absolutely OPRAH: That is the road So you’re being able to tell your wife the truth in that moment is a difference between you slipping further into it – TERRY: Absolutely

OPRAH: Or being able – TERRY: It’s the secrets that keep us sick OPRAH: Yeah, it’s the secrets that keep us sick TERRY: Yes OPRAH: OK TERRY: But people like Alice have nowhere to go to tell their secret, because of the fear and the shame

OPRAH: OK TERRY: We’re dealing with a behavior that is illegal, and for many people, immoral “Thou shalt not steal” OPRAH: M’hmm TERRY: So we don’t tend to look at it as an emotional, addictive, or mental health issue

We tend to look at it as a right-wrong issue, an illegal issue – OPRAH: Right TERRY: Or a moral issue OPRAH: OK TERRY: And for many people, it is not OPRAH: So how do you treat it? TERRY: Well, I’ve treated it by starting a group

And conventional wisdom is, if you’re a recovering addict, if you can find other people to gather with on a regular basis, that would be wonderful OPRAH: Now, I hear you even carry a smaller purse now to try to help yourself? ALICE: Absolutely OPRAH: Yeah, ‘cause big bags… ALICE: I cannot carry a big bag anywhere anymore OPRAH: M’hmm ALICE: That for me was my major instrument that I was able to conceal the items

Now I just make it absolutely impossible, even if I get the urge in a supermarket, my bag will not hold more than my cell phone and my wallet


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