Some Scientific Backdrop To Stalking

My previous past concerned my own harrowing experience with a determined stalker. I had intended though I had not specified in that post that I would follow it up with a more studied explanation from “the literature” of my profession on stalking.

The author is a forensic psychologist of great skill and renown, having read a number of his articles and heard a few addresses by him at really good meetings, I turned to his body of work to try to find a single piece that I hoped would cover this subject well. My memory was right and through the magic of Google I found just such a source that is comprehensive and well written enough to actually be understood, no small task in our complex field who subject matter often strains the limits of language.

The author is Dr. J. Reid Meloy and his piece though a bit dated, published in 2007, is quite good and worth reading. The reference in the old fashioned method is “Editorial: Stalking: the state of the science,” in Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 17: 1-17, 2007, John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Focusing on the psychological phenomenology of stalking, he writes of the legal consensus that “three elements are necessary: an intentional activity, a credible threat, and the induction of fear in the victim.” He further expands these elements writing :it seems apparent that there must be a pattern of unwanted pursuit, the behavior must pose an implicit or explicit threat o the safety of the victim, and the victim must experience fears as a result of the intentional behavior of the pursuer.”

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Effect of the Stalker on My Backwards Vision

As a psychiatrist I have had my share of experiences with stalkers. Recently I had a reminder of my own experiences with this awful process, that is not really germane here and now. I have had several persons haunt my house, scare members of my family by looming outside dark windows on rainy nights, paint weird threats on one or another of my little “station cars,” my jalopies that just get me to the hospital and back and which none of my children would ever ride in…

But I too had a long experience with a determined stalker. I am not sure when stalkers made it into the national media and our shared national conscious awareness but for me it was when one of the prominent young comedienne stars of the popular late 1980’s tv sitcom My Sister Sam, Rebecca Schaeffer, was stalked, shot and killed by her assailant and lunatic ‘admirer’ as stalkers were euphemistically termed in those rather innocent days, Robert Bardo. Ms. Schaeffer was at that time a very affectionately regarded young comedy starlet, only 21 years old and likely had a potentially promising career ahead of her. Old clips of the show, reminded me of tv when it had a much more open, fresh and enjoyable ring to the humor which may well be in shorter supply these days.

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