Gang stalking or group-stalking is a set of persecutory beliefs in which those affected believe they are being followed, stalked, and harassed by a large number of people. The term is associated with the "targeted individual" ("T.I.") virtual community formed by like-minded individuals who claim their lives are disrupted from being stalked by organized groups intent on causing them harm.
The concept of stalking arose in the 1980s following increased legal equity for women and prosecution of domestic violence. Generally, stalking has a single perpetrator, who may sometimes recruit others to act vicariously on their behalf, usually unwittingly. Beginning in the early 2000s, the term gang stalking became popularized to describe a different experience of repeated harassment which instead comes from multiple people who organize around a shared purpose, with no one person solely responsible.
A 2016 article in The New York Times estimated that more than 10,000 people were participating in online communities "organized around the conviction that its members are victims of a sprawling conspiracy to harass thousands of everyday Americans with mind-control weapons and armies of so-called gang stalkers". The article identified a 2015 paper by Sheridan and James entitled "Complaints of group stalking ('gang stalking'): an exploratory study of their nature and impact on complainants" as the only scientific study of the topic at the time.
Hundreds of these communities exist online. News reports have described how groups of Internet users have cooperated to exchange detailed conspiracy theories involving gang stalking. Kershaw & Weinberger say, "Web sites that amplify reports of mind control and group stalking" are "an extreme community that may encourage delusional thinking" and represent "a dark side of social networking. They may reinforce the troubled thinking of the mentally ill and impede treatment." A 2020 study established a framework to classify and examine the phenomenon of individuals with the subjective experience of being gang stalked. The study confirmed the subsequent "serious" sequelae of their experience and recommended further research.
Those who believe they are victims report that they believe the motivation for the gang stalking is to disrupt every part of their lives. The activities involved are described as including electronic harassment, the use of "psychotronic weapons", directed-energy weapons, cyberstalking, hypnotic suggestion transmitted through remotely-accessed electronic devices, and other alleged mind control techniques. These have been reported by external observers as being examples of belief systems as opposed to reports of objective phenomena. Among the community of targeted individuals, gang stalking is described as a shared experience where the gang stalkers all coordinate to harass individuals, and the individuals share their victim experiences with each other.
A study from Australia and the United Kingdom by Lorraine Sheridan and David James compared 128 self-defined victims of 'gang stalking' with a randomly selected group of 128 self-declared victims of stalking by an individual. All 128 'victims' of gang stalking were judged to be delusional, compared with only 5 victims of individual stalking. There were highly significant differences between the two samples on depressive symptoms, post-traumatic symptomatology and adverse impact on social and occupational function, with the self-declared victims of gang stalking being more severely affected. The authors concluded that "group stalking appears to be delusional in basis, but complainants suffer marked psychological and practical sequelae. This is important in the assessment of risk in stalking cases, early referral to psychiatric services and allocation of police resources."
While a great majority of those who claim to be targeted individuals do not pose danger to others, one report found that some have acted out with violence, sometimes extreme. In 2022, a reported believer in gang stalking was accused of killing four people in Ohio; he uploaded a video before the shooting in which he said that he wanted to "help other targeted individuals", and that he will conduct "the first counterattack against mind control in history". A manifesto was found on his computer, in which he wrote that his neighbors are mind-controlling terrorists.
- Fair Game (Scientology)
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- ^ Lustig, A; Brookes, G; Hunt, D (5 March 2021). "Linguistic Analysis of Online Communication About a Novel Persecutory Belief System (Gangstalking): Mixed Methods Study". Journal of Medical Internet Research. 23 (3): e25722. doi:10.2196/25722. PMC 7980115. PMID 33666560.
- ^ a b c d e Mcphate, Mike (10 June 2016). "United States of Paranoia: They See Gangs of Stalkers". The New York Times. New York City. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- ^ Flatley, Joseph (2 February 2017). "Paranoid delusions in the police state". The Outline.
- ^ a b Sheridan, L; James, DV; Roth, J (6 April 2020). "The Phenomenology of Group Stalking ('Gang-Stalking'): A Content Analysis of Subjective Experiences". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 17 (7): 2506. doi:10.3390/ijerph17072506. PMC 7178134. PMID 32268595.
- ^ Sheridan, Lorraine P.; James, David V. (3 September 2015). "Complaints of group-stalking ('gang-stalking'): an exploratory study of their nature and impact on complainants". The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology. 26 (5): 601–623. doi:10.1080/14789949.2015.1054857. S2CID 143326215.
- ^ Tait, Amelia (7 August 2020). ""Am I going crazy or am I being stalked?" Inside the disturbing online world of gangstalking". MIT Technology Review.
- ^ Kershaw, Sarah (12 November 2008). "Sharing Their Demons on the Web". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
- ^ Weinberger, Sharon (14 January 2007). "Mind Games". The Washington Post. Washington DC: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
- ^ Kiberd, Roisin (22 July 2016). "The Nightmarish Online World of 'Gang-Stalking'". Motherboard. Vice Media. Archived from the original on 22 July 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- ^ Pierre, Joe (20 October 2020). "Gang Stalking: Real-Life Harassment or Textbook Paranoia?". Psychology Today.
- ^ Pierre, Joe (October 31, 2020). "Gang Stalking: Conspiracy, Delusion, and Shared Belief". Psychology Today.
- ^ Pierre, Joe (November 16, 2020). "Gang Stalking: A Case of Mass Hysteria?". Psychology Today.
- ^ a b Sheridan, Lorraine P.; James, David V. (3 September 2015). "Complaints of group-stalking ('gang-stalking'): an exploratory study of their nature and impact on complainants". The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology. Abingdon, England: Routledge. 26 (5): 601–623. doi:10.1080/14789949.2015.1054857. ISSN 1478-9949. S2CID 143326215.
- ^ a b Reese, Garrett (2022-08-09). "The investigation continues after a man is accused of killing four people in Butler Township". WYSO. Retrieved 2023-02-09.
- ^ Sarteschi, Christine M. (March 2018). "Mass Murder, Targeted Individuals, and Gang-Stalking: Exploring the Connection". Violence and Gender. 5 (1): 45–54. doi:10.1089/vio.2017.0022.
- ^ a b "'For me, it was an easy decision': Ohio shooting suspect says". WKBN.com. 2022-08-24. Retrieved 2023-02-09.
- "The Nightmare World of Gang Stalking" (video). YouTube. Vice Media. 7 November 2017.
- "Meet the Targeted Individual Community" (video). YouTube. Vice Media. May 24, 2017.
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