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How To Recognize a Stalker

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Recognizing someone as a stalker is quite impossible.   They do not look like monsters.  Many can initially appear quite charming, while others seem awkward and socially inept.

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Profiles of stalkers have not been clearly delineated, but can overlap with characteristics offered in the domestic violence literature.  The most common type of stalker (Simple Obsessional) includes those individuals who were prior intimates that may have engaged in domestic violence.  There are several psychological characteristics: mood, anxiety, and/or  substance abuse disorders; low self-esteem; social insecurity; narcissism; intense jealousy; morbid infatuation.

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Listed here are the current findings describing stalkers:

Most are male (Colman, 1997; Hall, 1998; & Zona et al., 1993)

There is an increased likelihood of prior criminal, psychiatric, or substance abuse histories (Hall, 1998; Meloy & Gothard, 1995; Zona et al., 1993)

Immigration may play an interactive role -- these individuals may be experiencing acculturation stress and/or culture shock and suffering a sense of loss of one's culture of origin (Meloy, 1992; Zona et. al, 1993; & Garza-Guerrero, 1974)

Stalkers have higher intelligence than other criminals (Hall, 1998; Meloy & Gothard, 1995)

Defense mechanisms play a significant role in the form of denial, minimization, devaluation, and projection of blame onto the victim (Meloy & Gothard, 1995; Skoler, 1998)

Axis I disorders are evidenced as substance abuse, mood disorders, sexual dysfunction or schizophrenia (Meloy & Gothard, 1995)

Axis II disorders are primarily of the following:   narcissism, borderline, paranoid, and dependent personality -- with antisocial personality also possible, but not as common (Meloy & Gothard, 1995).  The schizoid personality disorder has been related to erotomania (Akhtar, 1987)

Loss within at least seven years of the stalking behavior (i.e., relationship dissolution, job termination, or potential loss of a child or an ill parent) is very common (Kienlen, Birmingham, Solberg, O'Ragan, & Meloy, 1997)

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