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Study of stalkers

By Paul E. Mullen, Michele Pathe, Rosemary Purcell and Geoffrey Stuart


Objective: This clinical study was devised to elucidate the behaviors, motivations, and psychopathology of stalkers. Method: It concerned 145 stalkers referred to a forensic psychiatry center for treatment. Results: Most of the stalkers were men (79%, N = 114), and many were unemployed (39%, N = 56); 52% (N = 75) had never had an intimate relationship. Victims included ex-partners (30%, N = 44), professional (23%, N = 34) or work (11%, N = 16) contacts, and strangers (14%, N = 20). Five types of stalkers were recognized: rejected, intimacy seeking, incompetent, resentful, and predatory. Delusional disorders were common (30%, N = 43), particularly among intimacy-seeking stalkers, although those with personality disorders predominated among rejected stalkers. The duration of stalking was from 4 weeks to 20 years (mean = 12 months), longer for rejected and intimacy-seeking stalkers. Sixty-three percent of the stalkers (N = 84) made threats, and 36% (N = 52) were assaultive. Threats and property damage were more frequent with resentful stalkers, but rejected and predatory stalkers committed more assaults. Committing assault was also predicted by previous convictions, substance-related disorders, and previous threats. Conclusions: Stalkers have a range of motivations, from reasserting power over a partner who rejected them to the quest for a loving relationship. Most stalkers are lonely and socially incompetent, but all have the capacity to frighten and distress their victims. Bringing stalking to an end requires a mixture of appropriate legal sanctions and therapeutic interventions

Topics: Stalking -- psychological aspects Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aggression -- psychology, Communication, Crime -- psychology, Criminal psychology, Delusions -- diagnosis, Delusions -- psychology, Employment, Female, Forensic psychiatry, Humans, Interpersonal relations, Male, Marital status, Mental disorders -- diagnosis, Mental disorders -- psychology, Middle aged, Motivation, Probability, Social behavior, Telephone -- utilization, Time factors, Violence
Publisher: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.
Year: 1999
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