(FoxNews) Of all the personality traits, stalking is the most pernicious and persistent. The relaysh between the accuser and the accuser’s persecutor is insidious and suffocating. Victims living with an obsessive coworker, spouse, parent or even friend may deny and evade reality, but they are grasping for an escape. Desperation is a polite way of saying “help me.” This is the crux of what’s known as “medical paranoia.”
Psychologists diagnose this condition and its clinical consequences in their book, “Wild Wild West Psychology: Obsessive Compulsive Isolation Symptoms,” by Jeffrey Robbins. Robbins’ book delves into the psychological meanness that has seeped into an individual’s perspective as a way to blame, if not necessarily offer more attention.
All or nearly all cases of “Psychiatric Paranoia” may be diagnostic. Depression, paranoia, and obsessive compulsive disorder are obvious symptoms of this condition. But Robbins warns that you may not be depressed or crazy enough to harbor malicious thoughts or delusions. You may very well be paranoid, no matter what you feel.
“If they just say ‘psychiatric paranoia,’ you sort of rationalize,” he said. “We need one more box to tick on the scales before they accept the diagnosis. But it’s not possible to do that because the complex, deep-seated anger and dysfunction is not more responsive than the pathos of institutionalization.”
If you suspect you are suffering from psychiatric paranoia, it may help to consider the following list of key symptoms and to assess how far in the throes of this condition you are.
A lower sense of normalcy that involves a decrease in daily functioning. Loss of any sense of responsibility for your own behavior. Negative feelings toward others. Damage to your self-esteem. Increase in the volume and frequency of obsessive and/or threatening thoughts. Or a more rational explanation for it all that you ignore, including actual persecution or harassment.
Another potentially helpful resource is “Harper’s Bazaar Strangers: The Secrets of The Obsessive Pursuit of Love, Sex, Career and Happiness by M. Scott Peck. Peck, best-selling author of “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” explores the role of evil in the lives of stalkers. He says they keep on walking and moving forward regardless of your reaction.
“People who are habitual stalkers keep on walking, whether they do or don’t like you,” he said. “Some of them just ‘freak out’ when they are confronted and sometimes they walk away. But one way or another, they follow you.”
Peck suggests there are three categories of stalkers: stalkers who make repeated overtures toward you; stalkers who have a cause or ideology and are motivated by hate; and predators. The predators have “blindly pursued” individuals; they don’t have a personal motive.
“They are not disturbed pervs,” Peck said. “They are purely predatory.”
But as important as the problem of obsessive possession may be, it is important not to act like a detective to recognize it. “People go on about stalking and ‘gotcha’ and ‘hoax’ syndrome,” said Peck. “But if you wake up one day and you feel as if someone has been following you or following your every move, that person is probably stalking you.”
You just have to start thinking about it. The results may vary.
Chantal Groom is a former New York Times travel editor and the author of “Where to Stay: Places to Go and Things to Do in Every Style.”