Psychopaths and Stalking

Paradoxically, psychopaths are egomaniacs without pride. Their shamelessness, lack of boundaries and hunger for control often leads them to relentlessly pursue individuals who don’t want them, and who repeatedly reject them. Normal human beings not only don’t desire to stalk others because they have boundaries, but also they would feel too deeply embarrassed and humiliated to continue pursuing individuals who have rejected them over and over again.

This common sense logic does NOT apply to psychopaths. In fact, like in the movie Fatal Attraction and many other films about disordered creepy individuals, psychopaths ESPECIALLY pursue those who don’t want them. Not only directly, through stalking and cyberstalking, but also indirectly, by manipulating other individuals under their control to stalk and harass the targets who have rejected them.

Being social predators driven by the need for power and control, psychopaths can’t take rejection. Like with any predatory behavior, observing, following and stalking the prey is part and parcel of what psychopaths do. Sometimes their harmful behavior is opportunistic, as is the case with serial killers who seize the moment–and their victims–without observing them for an extended period of time in advance. But very often psychopaths plan their actions cold-heartedly and methodically in advance: and not only as they pertain to violent crimes, but also as they pertain to getting anything they want: your money, your body, your heart and/or your life.

At the beginning of the relationship stalking behavior may seem romantic. It’s presented under the guise of not being able to be away from you; needing you all the time, wanting you. However, this constant attention masks the predator’s main intent: to control you and isolate  you from others. Consequently, even in the most pleasant and blinding phase of a relationship with a psychopath–the honeymoon phase–dangerous individuals exhibit predatory behavior and traits.

After the victim ends a relationship with a psychopath, this behavior is likely to escalate into downright stalking. This happens for the reasons I have explained in previous articles:

1) psychopaths, being control-driven individuals, can’t take rejection

2) psychopaths, being control-driven, also don’t like to relinquish control over their targets

3) psychopaths, being control-driven, want to WIN. To them, winning means catching their targets into their spider’s nets and destroying them

4) psychopaths, being control-driven, want to exact vengeance and intimidate those who no longer worship them, want them, or obey them blindly.

Notice that the common denominator that explains psychopathic behavior is the fact that psychopaths need to be IN CONTROL. They are principally motivated by the need to exercise power over others. Stalking behavior is a common strategy that psychopaths use to intimidate their non-compliant victims and an effort to punish them and regain control. For their victims, this is particularly difficult to deal with because stalking laws vary from state to state and because stalking–particularly cyberstalking–is very difficult to establish under the current laws. Generally speaking, one must establish a pattern of stalking as well as harmful intent and threat to safety: all from the same source/stalker. Since stalkers can be very stealthy and know how to erase their traces, reroute their IP address and easily get new email addresses, it’s not easy to take legal action against a psychopathic (cyber)stalker.

However, I’d advise victims to keep all the emails and evidence of (cyber)stalking and share it immediately with the authorities, their therapist, their friends and others. The more evidence is out there which pertains to the harassment, the better your chances become for taking effective legal action against the psychopath and even putting him in jail for his crime. I’m including below some additional helpful information about stalking laws from the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

Analyzing Stalking Laws (information from the National Center for Victims of Crime)

http://www.ncvc.org/src/AGP.Net/Components/DocumentViewer/Download.aspxnz?DocumentID=41531

Stalking is generally defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a

reasonable person fear.  The crime of stalking is defined differently, however, in all 50 states, the

District of Columbia, and on tribal and federal lands.* When analyzing your stalking statute, please

consider the following elements and issues:

 Course of Conduct

A course of conduct is typically defined as one or more intentional acts that evidence a continuity of 

purpose.

• Is your state’s law “course of conduct” language inclusive of all behaviors that stalkers employ,

such as using surveillance technology (e.g., GPS-equipped cell phones) or enlisting third parties

(e.g., family and friends) to stalk on their behalf?

• How many acts are required to satisfy the course of conduct element?  Would a single,

threatening posting on a social networking Web site satisfy the element?

Intent Requirement 

States categorize the crime of stalking as either general intent crimes or specific intent crimes.  A stalker

commits a general intent crime when the stalker intends the actions in which he engages.  In states

categorizing stalking as a general intent crime, the prosecution does not have to prove that the stalker

intended the consequences of his actions.  Conversely, when stalking is a specific intent crime, the

stalker must intend to cause the result of his actions (typically the victim’s fear) to commit the crime of

stalking.  Specific intent stalking statutes may be more difficult to prosecute.

• Is your state stalking statute a general intent or specific intent crime?

 Standard of Fear 

Some states require that the defendant’s behavior cause the victim actual fear (which usually requires

the victim to testify as to her feelings or change in lifestyle due to the stalking).  Some states only

require that the behavior would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.  Some states require both actual

fear on the part of the victim and proof that a reasonable person would also feel fear.

• What standard of fear does your stalking statute require?

Copies of all state criminal statutes (as well as the federal statute and some tribal codes) can be found at http://www.ncvc.org/src.

Don’t Give the Psychopath too Much Importance

Lurking in the Shadows

As absolute narcissists, all psychopaths think they’re extremely important. To them, the universe revolves around them and their needs. Everyone around them is either a target they will try to use to fulfill those needs or an obstacle to be eliminated in the pursuit of what they desire. For this reason, psychopaths surround themselves with individuals they can manipulate and brainwash, who idolize them. This not only gives them tools to machinate against others, but also supports the narcissistic bubble, sustaining their false sense of importance.

Imagine that you were raised by such a psychopath in a place where you weren’t allowed out of your house, you weren’t allowed to have friends, exchange opinions, learn, interact with others. Then the tyrant who raised you would assume the utmost importance, no matter how pathetic and insignificant he was in any objective sense. The psychology of cult followers and of those imprisoned by a psychopath has some similarities, particularly in the importance the psychopath assumes in their lives.

For cult followers or anyone who worships a psychopath, this importance seems to be a positive force: they have someone they consider superior to others, who makes them feel “special” and “superior” as well, by association. For those held prisoner by a psychopath, this importance is magnified by fear. In both cases, however, it is exaggerated and out of touch with reality: it is carefully created by the psychopath through brainwashing, intimidation tactics and isolation. For a very interesting and vivid account of how this happens, please see Jaycee Dugard’s account of her imprisonment by a pathological couple:

When their targets no longer idolize them or fulfill their demands, psychopaths often retaliate. They can’t tolerate when anyone bursts the artificial bubble of their complete and utter narcissism.  Psychopaths are bullies. They often resort to intimidation tactics, such as stalking and cyberstalking, smear campaigns and various other machinations. Some former victims feel genuinely terrorized by them and live in a state of fear or even paranoia. They give them a power that they don’t deserve. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take the psychopath’s stalking seriously. Record every incident; report it to the authorities; take actions to protect yourself and your loved ones. However, don’t live in the shadow of the psychopath’s inflated ego or in fear of him. My friend and fellow writer, Sarah Strudwick, recently wrote an excellent article about this. She too has been cyberstalked by her psychopathic ex, but learned how to work through–and move beyond–the trauma, the anger and the fears that this experience has caused.

I recall moments during my childhood when I’d go to bed and  my toys would create scary, large and looming shadows on the wall. The toys that seemed so benign during the day sometimes became frightening during the night. In a way, that’s what psychopaths attempt to do to victims who reject them; to those who do not sustain their distorted, inflated egos. They  project scary, larger-than-life shadows through various tactics intended to intimidate and menace. Take their actions seriously, but not the psychopaths.

Psychopaths are trivial human beings. They don’t have any real human relationships and they don’t accomplish any constructive goals, except as a false mask. When you see the psychopath for what he is–a pathetic, insignificant human being–you cut him down to size. Don’t give the psychopath too much importance because, in reality, he has none.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

Internet Predators: The Cyberpath and Cyberstalking

The internet offers fertile ground for psychopaths, who are constantly on the prowl for potential new victims while continuing to intimidate and harass their previous targets, sometimes years after the relationship is over. Psychopaths never experience true emotional bonding with anyone; however they sometimes experience intense attachments to certain targets. Just as they take perverse pleasure in hurting those close to them, they also take perverse pleasure in harassing previous targets from afar. 

This is easy to do with relative anonymity. New email addresses are easy to get; while anyone with minimal computer skills knows how to reroute IP addresses. While even rerouted IP addresses can be identified by the authorities, often it’s more trouble than it’s worth. This makes it more difficult for the victim to establish a pattern of stalking to the police.  

Even though the victim can’t control the psychopath’s obsessive stalking behavior, she can control her own reactions to it. Please find below an informative article on psychopaths on the internet (or “cyberpaths”) by a fellow blogger, Lisa (relentlessabundance.wordpress.com).

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

What is the cyberpath looking for?

by Lisa, relentlessabundance.wordpress.com

Like all psychopathic personalities, the cyberpath tends to get bored easily. He looks for ways to fill his boredom with exploits that will satisfy his need for personal gratification. The Internet provides a wide array of offerings – chatrooms and discussion groups, mailing lists, social networking sites, and many portals for interpersonal communication with a huge variety of people. The cyberpath tends to find someone that gratifies his need to feed his narcissistic desire for attention – whether with intrigue, argument, conflict or adoration and love. He may flit from one victim to another quite quickly, or may stay with a single victim for an extended period, depending on how long the victim continues to feed this endless need.

Dominance and power form recurrent themes in the social relations of psychopathic personalities. The cyberpath constantly seeks to dominate and control others. This takes a variety of forms:

  • in arguments and debates, he constantly needs to have the last word;
  • he attempts to silence others and close discussion with his point of view;
  • he will resort to insults and attacks in order to retain dominance;
  • if he seems to be losing his dominant position in an argument, he will abandon it, forget it and later deny it rather than face any sort of compromise of his dominance.

In his personal relationships, his bids for adulation and devotion will take on more subtle forms:

  • he will go to great lengths to elicit love and devotion from others;
  • he is only interested in the thrill of achieving or winning this, and once the relationship gets past its initial excitement phase, his boredom and need for further validation will lead him to seek out further victims;
  • he is highly adept at lying, and even as his lies get discovered, he will refashion his story to make himself appear credible, often using the stance of humility and remorse to get himself out of a corner. Gradually he will have to set up new online profiles and sites in order to clear away any previous evidence of his track record repeating itself.

Psychopathic personalities enjoy playing jokes and tricks on others in order to humiliate them or assert dominance. In other words, he is not necessarily looking for money or sex; he may simply be looking for the thrill of a new connection, a new game. This is not to say that the psychopath is necessarily aware of what he’s doing; he may not even realise or acknowledge that he is hurting or exploiting others in his quest for attention and narcissistic supply. Indeed, his own sense of need and lack may be so great that it may express itself in very genuine self-pity, heartfelt longing and sweeping declarations of love and desire.

A psychopath tends to play the same games over and over. He tends to have no real interest in your inner emotional state as he is incapable of actual empathy (although he may have a deep desire to feel empathy, and may indeed claim to feel it). Consequently, few psychopaths are actually stalkers. They do not connect emotionally to others, so once a relationship has run out of steam for them, they simply move onto the next person that piques their interest. For those who have found themselves at the end of a relationship with a psychopathic individual, one of the most frustrating aspects of the breakup can be the lack of any acknowledgement that the relationship even happened.

Gordon Banks, in his essay “Don Juan as Psychopath” points out that this personality “gives no real love, though he is quite capable of inspiring love of sometimes fanatical degree in others”. Of course, after the relationship is over, it means very little to the cyberpath, who tends to turn cold (and sometimes even vicious) but the victim may find themselves shocked, devastated or seriously traumatised. The perverse twist to this theme is that the psychopathic personality may take pleasure in “psychoanalysing” his victims, and casting them as crazy, obsessive and even delusional (and reinforcing his own power as the dominant “rational” figure in the relationship).

Most cyberpaths are not the kinds of hardened criminals that go as far as murder, rape and the other crimes we’ve come to associate with literary and filmic “psychos”. Rather, they tend to commit crimes of deceit, lying and infidelity. Their manipulation will go as far as seemingly heartfelt confessions, as well as successive revisions of their own narratives. Sadly, they will often actually believe their own stories.

A cyberpath will keep his victim hooked for as long as she keeps fuelling his narcissistic desire for devotion and approval. However, the charade will drop when this starts waning (typically the phase of a relationship where normal couples settle down from the initial infatuation into the normalcy of their relationship). Alternatively, it may drop when the cyberpath simply gets bored of his current victim and requires a more novel buzz.

What may attract you to a psychopath initially

  • he may appear extraordinarily articulate, impressive and charming
  • his provocative behaviour might initially seem attractively brave, daring or “true to self”; later when it makes you uncomfortable, you might well rationalise it by remembering that it’s part of what makes him “special”
  • he will “zone in” on you and make you feel like you are at the centre of something extraordinary
  • irresistibly, he will insist that your relationship eclipses and surpasses anything that went before – you are the first person that has truly seen or understood him; the best lover he has ever had; the first person with whom he has been truly honest or truly “himself” (indeed, he may believe this himself, as he does not have any emotional recall for previous relationships)
  • even if he has cheated on or betrayed someone else in the initial stages of your relationship, he will twist this to demonstrate that you are the special case – now that he’s found you, there can be no further dishonesty
  • he may overtly or subtly assert his dominance over you as a kind of private privilege
  • he may create a heightened sense of intimacy (a sort of “me and you against the world” in-club) by insisting that you alone understand him and share his unique perspective.

The sorts of things that might alert you to psychopathic tendencies

  • consistent failure to conform to social norms (e.g. a tendency to speak or behave to shock others, insistently provocative behaviour)
  • deceitfulness, lying, creation of multiple aliases
  • insulting or humiliating treatment
  • arrogance, a sense of entitlement, inflated sense of ego
  • a tendency to “psychoanalyse” others, especially previous exes, as insane or obsessive
  • coolly rationalising or “explaining away” previous incidents in which he has hurt, mistreated or lied to others
  • lack of empathy, guilt or remorse for previous misdemeanours and previous victims
  • a limited or nonexistent social circle, largely made up of people he sees rarely or online acquaintances, rather than close friends or confidantes
  • a pattern of serious mental illness or psychosis in his family; fraught or nonexistent family ties.

If you have been in a relationship with a psychopathic personality

  • get as far away from them as you can, as quickly as possible
  • don’t bother trying to communicate with them about the relationship – they will be unable to enter into a meaningful dialogue
  • if you seek to expose them, bear in mind they are likely to respond with vitriolic rage, threats, vicious and hurtful communication, or attempts to discredit you and smear your reputation
  • resign yourself to the fact that you are unlikely to retrieve anything from them unless you are fortunate enough to have a legally binding contract from before they turned cold on you
  • don’t beat yourself up about not recognising the signs earlier; just act as soon as you do
  • seek therapy as soon as possible; the trauma of these encounters can be long-lasting and profound
  • if possible, warn others of your experience
  • bear in mind he will be doing his best to cast you as irrational or downright crazy, so it might not be possible or worthwhile to warn his friends or his most recent victim
  • tempting as it is to try get him to hear your point of view, cut your losses and keep away from any further contact.

The other side of the coin

With around 4% of the general population displaying psychopathic traits, some psychologists readily regard psychopathy, like some forms of autistic traits, as “just another way of being”. The psychopaths that end up committing socially unacceptable crimes such as rape and murder are simply the ‘unsuccessful psychopaths’; the successful ones may actually exploit their tendencies to achieve great outward trappings of success. Intelligence, charm and uncompromising self-interest can be a recipe for high earnings and some degree of social (or at least sexual) success. That said, if you’re among of the 96% of the population that values a degree of empathy and compassion in your friends and partners, it’s worth knowing what to look out for.




Why don’t psychopaths let go of their victims?

Several readers have indicated in your comments that the psychopaths you broke up with (or who broke up with you) don’t let you go. They can’t accept that the relationship is over. They still try to contact you even though you told them in no uncertain terms you wish to break all contact with them. Despite this finality, they still harass you with unwelcome emails or phone calls. Sometimes they use your child or children as intermediaries, making the situation even more painful and complicated. So the question arises: Why can’t psychopaths take no for an answer and let former relationships go?

I’ve offered one answer to this question in the post Relationship Boomerang. Psychopaths juggle many relationships at once. Some are in the idealization/luring phase; others are in the devalue phase; yet others are in the discard phase and finally many are in the discarded phase, to which the psychopaths return when they get bored with all of the above.

Since, fundamentally, psychopaths engage with other human beings only because they need idolaters and subjects to use and dominate, an insatiable and obstinate need for control is the main and most fundamental reason why psychopaths can’t let go of their victims. Letting go would mean that they lose ownership over former targets. They no longer can get them to do their bidding. They can no longer lie to and manipulate them. They can no longer use them for supply, be it an ego boost, sex, money, or power. Those targets are out of their reach, out of their hands.

This also means that those former targets can move on and have the opportunity to lead much healthier and better lives without the psychopaths. This is the one thing that a psychopath can’t tolerate: the idea that you are far better off without him. The idea that you can find love again, or regain control of the finances he decimated, or find a better career that he destroyed.

To move on, you need to sever all contact with the psychopath. The psychopath may not release you, but you can free yourself. If he emails you, keep all the emails and once you establish a pattern of cyberstalking turn them in to the authorities. Even rerouted IP can be identified by the police. If he calls, don’t answer. If he leaves messages on the phone, let the answering machine record them and keep them as evidence to show the police. A restraining order may not offer much protection, but proving a pattern of stalking could land the psychopath in jail. Keep all the evidence against him but never engage directly with him (or her) in any way.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

 


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