Most of the tactics used against targets of organized harassment seem designed to mimic the symptoms of mental illness.1 Leaving the psychologically debilitating aspects of organized harassment aside, there are obvious reasons for this overall strategy:
- If a target can be made to create a paper trail supporting a diagnosis of mental illness, it’s simple to put him in a position where it’s his word versus that of the authorities. Because of his history, the official explanation will be given much greater weight.
- Targets too wily to leave a paper trail behind will be unable to complain, for fear of discrediting themselves.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “Why are they doing that; what’s the point?”, a list like this one – examining what psychiatrists are looking for, and how you can be provoked into meeting their expectations – will explain a lot.
Stalking and harassment
A target’s belief that someone is trying to harm him can be explained away as persecutory delusions.2 (Note that there can be delusional aspects to a target’s testimony, even if he’s absolutely correct about the big picture.3)
According to official statistics, 11.5% of stalking reports turn out to be false, with 64% of those false reports being persecutory delusions, such as being monitored by a government agency.4 A target who isn’t careful about how he makes his case (making accusations he can’t back up, for example) should expect to become part of that statistic.
Persecutory delusions are sometimes called querulant delusions, with the connotation that the delusional person complains too much.5 Targets who unwittingly and repeatedly complain about minor (but disturbing) occurrences may be creating a record to be used against them later.
Delusional misidentification syndromes
People who look and dress like a target, or like significant others, may occasionally be dispatched to the target’s area. Ill-considered reports or complaints will support a diagnosis of subjective double syndrome, the delusion that a person has a double or Doppelgänger with the same appearance6. If the report is of someone else’s lookalike, the report can be treated as evidence of Fregoli syndrome, in which different people are believed to be a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise.7
What if a targeted individual reports that a significant other is behaving in a seemingly hostile manner? Even if he doesn’t make the leap to a persecutory delusion (stating the significant other is out to get him), there’s a syndrome for that. Capgras syndrome is a disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse, parent, or other close family member has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor.
Delusions of reference
Another common tactic experienced by targeted individuals is the use of broadcast programming that appears to be customized to the target.8 Even if there are witnesses or evidence left behind on a recording device, there’s no proof that the events refer to the target’s private activities; reporting these episodes will support a diagnosis of delusions of reference, in which the subject believes that irrelevant or unrelated events directly refer to him.2
A target can also be tricked into exhibiting these symptoms if he complains about people nearby speaking about the details of his life, or about repeated remarkably improbable and well-timed (but otherwise unordinary) events that occur in his vicinity.9
If you’re experiencing electronic harassment and being treated like you’re crazy for talking about it, Kurt Schneider (d. 1967) is your nemesis. Schneider devised the “first-rank” symptoms (FRS) of schizophrenia10. One exhibited FRS is sufficient for a diagnosis of schizophrenia.11
Three first-rank symptoms are thought broadcasting, in which a patient reports hearing others’ thoughts and/or being able to broadcast his own thoughts; somatic hallucination, the experience of influences playing on the body (any mysterious sensations can be explained away as ‘somatic hallucination’), and thought insertion.12 All of these symptoms can be created by way of nervous system stimulation or cranial stimulation (using implants, for example).
We’re looking at the broad outlines of the playbook for organized harassment campaigns, with virtually every tactic used against a target corresponding neatly to some symptom of schizophrenia. The nearly perfect match between tactics and diagnoses hints at collaboration between the harassers and the diagnosticians - and possibly even some overlap.
It’s too early to speculate about how, but we now have a good idea of why.
- ^ a bAndreasen, Nancy C. (1984). "Scale for the assessment of positive symptoms"; The Movement Disorder Society. (local copy)
- ^ Brown, Seth A. (2008). "Reality of Persecutory Beliefs: The Base Rate Information for Clinicians"; Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry.
- ^ Lester G. et. al. (2004). "Unusually persistent complainants"; British Journal of Psychiatry (2004) 184: 352-356.
- ^ Christodoulou G. N. (1978). "Syndrome of subjective doubles"; American Journal of Psychiatry, 135(2), 249-51.
- ^ Mojtabai R (September 1994) "Fregoli syndrome". Aust N Z J Psychiatry 28 (3): 458–62. doi:10.3109/00048679409075874
- ^ Schneider, K. Clinical Psychopathology. New York: Grune and Stratton. 1959.
- ^ Julie Nordgaard, Sidse M. Arnfred, Peter Handest, and Josef Parnas (2007). "The Diagnostic Status of First-Rank Symptoms"; Oxford University Press’ Schizophrenia Bulletin, 2008 January; 34(1): 137–154.
- ^ Andreasen, Nancy C. (1991). "Schizophrenia: The 27 Characteristic Symptoms"; Schizophrenia Bulletin. Oxford University Press and the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. (local copy)
Footnotes and further reading on this site
- ^ We could also say: many of the symptoms of mental illness, particularly those pertaining to alleged delusions of persecution, seem designed to explain away genuine persecution at the hands of a large organization.
- ^ “Deception, self-deception, and delusions”; Feb. 2011.
- ^ This tactic suggests causality inversion, in which cause and effect are switched behind the target’s back. See: “Causality inversion, and how it looks like delusions of reference” (Feb. 2011).
- ^ A process of sensitization (see: “Sensitization (and why it works so well)”) can attune a person to covert messages directed at him; conspicuous surveillance is a strategy of making a target aware that he’s being watched and followed (see: “Watched (and hated) by many”).