False claims of stalking, “gang stalking” and delusions of persecution
In 1999, Pathe, Mullen and Purcell wrote that popular interest in stalking was promoting false claims. In 2004, Sheridan and Blaauw said that they estimated that 11.5% of claims in a sample of 357 reported claims of stalking were false.
According to Sheridan and Blaauw, 70% of false stalking reports were made by people suffering from delusions, stating that “after eight uncertain cases were excluded, the false reporting rate was judged to be 11.5%, with the majority of false victims suffering delusions (70%).” Another study estimated the proportion of false reports that were due to delusions as 64%.
News reports have described how groups of Internet users have cooperated to exchange detailed conspiracy theories involving coordinated activities by large numbers of people called “gang stalking”. The activities involved are described as involving electronic harassment, the use of “psychotronic weapons“, 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. Some psychiatrists and psychologists 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 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 3.9% of 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 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.”