Coping with Stalkers: Psychopaths, Narcissists, Paranoids, Erotomaniacs

Uploaded 3/2/2013, approx. 8 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Today we will discuss stalkers.

Stalkers are not made of one cloth, some of them are psychopaths, other stalkers are schizoids, narcissists, paranoids, or an admixture of these unsavory mental health disorders.

Stalkers harass their victims because they are lonely, or because it is fun, these are latent sadists, or because they cannot help it, they are clinging, co-dependent, or for myriad different other reasons.

Clearly, coping techniques suited to one type of stalker may backfire or prove to be futile with another.

The only denominator common to all bullies is their pent-up rage.

Stalker is angry at his or her targets and hates them. He perceives his victims as unnecessarily and churlishly frustrating.

The aim of stalking is to educate the victim and to punish her, hence a catch-22 of coping with stalkers.

The standard and good advice is to avoid all contact with your stalker, to ignore him, even as you take precautions.

But being evaded only inflames the stalker's wrath and enhances his frustration. The more the stalker feels sidelined, ignored, and stonewalled, the more persistent he becomes, the more intrusive, and the more aggressive.

So what to do?

It is essential, therefore, to first identify the type of abuser you are faced with.

Start with the erotomaniac. This kind of stalker believes that he is in love with you, and that regardless of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the feeling is reciprocated.

In other words, he believes that you are in love with him.

He interprets everything you do, or refrain from doing, as coded messages confessing your eternal devotion to him and to your relationships.

Erotomaniacs are lonely, socially inept people.

They may also be people with whom you have been involved dramatically, your former spouse, a former boyfriend, or even a one-night stand. They could also be colleagues or co-workers.

The best coping strategy with an erotomania is to ignore him. Do not communicate with him, or even acknowledge his existence.

The erotomaniac clutches its straws and often suffers from ideas of reference. He tends to blow out of proportion every comment or gesture of his loved one.

So avoid contact. Do not talk to him. Return his gifts unopened. Refuse to discuss with him anything, or discuss him with others. Delete his correspondence.

Then there is the narcissistic stalker.

He feels entitled to your time, attention, admiration, and resources. He interprets every rejection as an act of aggression which leads to a narcissistic injury.

He reacts with sustained rage and vindictiveness. He can turn violent because he feels omnipotent and immune to the consequences of his actions.

Your best coping strategy with a narcissistic stalker is to make clear that you want no further contact with him and that this decision is not personal.

Be firm. Do not hesitate to inform him that you hold him responsible for his stalking, bullying, and harassment, and that you will take all necessary steps to protect yourself.

Narcissists at base are cowards and are easily intimidated.

Luckily, they never get emotionally attached to their prey and so they can move on with relative ease.

Then there is the paranoid stalker. This is by far the most dangerous of the lot.

He lives in an inaccessible world of his own making. He cannot be reasoned with. He cannot be cajoled.

He thrives on threats, anxiety and fear. He distorts every communication to feed his persecutory delusion and enhance his anxiety.

The paranoid's conduct is unpredictable and there is no typical scenario. But experience shows that you can minimize the danger to yourself and to your household by taking some basic steps.

If at all possible, put as much physical distance as you can between yourself and the paranoid stalker.

Change address, phone number, email account, cell phone number, enlist the kids in a new different school, find a new job, get a new credit card, open a new bank account. Move states if you have to.

Do not inform your paranoid ex about your whereabouts and about your new life.

You may have to make painful sacrifices, such as minimize contacts, even with your family and best friends.

And even with all these precautions, your abusive ex is likely to find you, furious that you have fled and invaded him, raging at your newfound existence, suspicious and resentful of your freedom and personal autonomy.

Violence is more than likely to ensue.

Unless deterred, paranoid former spouses tend to be harmful, even, in some cases, lethal.

So be prepared.

Alert your local law enforcement officers. Check out your neighborhood domestic violence shelter.

Consider owning a gun for self-defense or, at the very least, a stun gun or mustard spray. Carry these with you at all times. Keep them close by and accessible, even when you are asleep or in your bathroom.

Erotomaniac stalking can last many years.

Do not let down your guard, even if you haven't heard from him, for a while.

Stalkers leave traces. They tend, for instance, to scout the territory before they make their move.

A typical stalker invades his or her victim's privacy a few times long before the crucial and injurious encounter.

So is your computer being tampered with? Is someone downloading your email? Has anyone been in your house while you were away? Any signs of breaking and entering, missing things, atypical disorder or even too much order? Is your post being delivered erratically, some of the envelopes having been opened and then resealed? Mysterious phone calls abruptly disconnected when you pick up?

Your stalker may scout your home, sitting in a vehicle opposite your doorstep.

If some of these signs exist, your stalker must have dropped by and is monitoring them.

Notice any unusual pattern, any strange event, any weird occurrence.

Someone is driving by your house morning and evening? A new gardener or maintenance man came by in your absence? Someone is making inquiries about you and your family?

Maybe it's time to move on.

Teach your children to avoid your paranoid ex and to report to you immediately any contact he has made with him.

Abusive bullies often strike where it hurts most: at one's children.

Explain to your children the danger without being unduly alarming. Make a distinction between adults whom they can trust and your abusive former spouse or ex whom they should avoid.

Ignore your gut reactions and impulses because they are often misleading. Sometimes the stress is so onerous and so infuriating that you feel like striking back at the stalker.

So don't do it. Don't play his game.

He is better at it than you are and is likely to defeat you.

Instead, unleash the full force of the law whenever you get the chance to do so.

Restraining orders, peace bonds, spells in jail, and frequent visits from the police tend to check the abuser's violent and intrusive conduct.

The other behavioral extreme is equally futile and counterproductive.

Do not try to buy peace by appeasing your abuser. Submissiveness and attempts to reason with him only whet the stalker's appetite.

He regards both as contemptible weaknesses, vulnerabilities that he can exploit.

You cannot communicate with a paranoid because he is likely to distort everything that you say to support his persecutory delusions.

He has a sense of entitlement. He has grandiose fantasies.

You cannot appeal to his emotions or reason he has none, at least no positive emotion.

Remember, your abusive and paranoid former partner blames it all on you. As far as he is concerned, you, recklessly and unscrupulously, wrecked a wonderful thing that you both had gone.

He is vengeful, seething and prone to bouts of uncontrolled and extreme aggression.

Don't listen to those who tell you to take it easy. Hundreds of thousands of women paid with their lives for heeding this idiotic advice.

Do not take it easy. Do not count down. Do be hypervigilant.

Your paranoid stalker is inordinately dangerous and, more likely than not, is with you for a long time to come.

Finally, there is the anti-social or psychopathic stalker.

Though ruthless and typically violent, the psychopath is a calculating machine out to maximize his gratification and personal profit.

Psychopaths lack empathy and may even be sadistic, but understand well and instantly the language of carrots and sticks.

So your best coping strategy is to convince your psychopath that messing with your life, or with your nearest, is going to cost him dearly.

Do not threaten him. Simply be unequivocal about your desire to be left in peace and your intentions to involve the law should he stalk, harass, or threaten you.

Give him a choice between being left alone and becoming the target of multiple arrests, restraining orders, and worse.

Take extreme precautions at all times and meet him only in public places.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Erotomanic Stalker

The erotomaniac stalker believes they are in love with their victim and will go to great lengths to prove their devotion, including making legal, financial, and emotional decisions for the victim without their consent. They ignore personal boundaries and intrude on privacy, and may even force themselves on the victim sexually. Coping strategies include ignoring the stalker, not responding to any communication, returning gifts, and avoiding any contact with the stalker. Any contact with the stalker is seen as a sign of love, so it is best to avoid them completely.

Psychopathic Bully and Stalker

Stalking is a crime and stalkers are criminals, yet the horrid consequences of stalking are often underestimated. Many criminals, and therefore many stalkers, suffer from personality disorders, most prevalently the antisocial personality disorder, formerly known as psychopathy. Psychopaths regard other people as objects to be manipulated, in instruments of gratification and utility. The best coping strategy is to convince the psychopath that messing with your life or with your nearest is going to cost him dearly.

Stalker Psychology

Stalking is a form of abuse that continues long after a relationship has ended, with the majority of abusers getting the message. However, a minority of abusers, the more vindictive and obsessed ones, continue to stalk their ex-partners for years to come. These stalkers are typically lonely, violent, and intermittently unemployed, but they are rarely full-fledged criminals. Contrary to myths perpetrated by the mass media, studies show that most stalkers are men, have high IQs, advanced degrees, and are middle-aged.

Spot a Narcissist or a Psychopath on Your First Date

There are warning signs to identify abusers and narcissists early on in a relationship. One of the first signs is the abuser's tendency to blame others for their mistakes and failures. Other signs include hypersensitivity, eagerness to commit, controlling behavior, patronizing and condescending manner, and devaluing the partner. Abusers may also idealize their partner, have sadistic sexual fantasies, and switch between abusive and loving behavior. Paying attention to body language can also reveal warning signs.

Women Narcissists

Male and female narcissists differ in the way they manifest their narcissism, with women focusing on their body and traditional gender roles. However, both genders are chauvinistic and conservative, as they depend on the opinions of those around them to maintain their false self. Women are more likely to seek therapy and use their children as a source of narcissistic supply, while men may view their children as a nuisance. Ultimately, there is no psychodynamic difference between male and female narcissists, as they both choose different sources of supply but are otherwise identical.

Paranoid Stalker Ex

Abusive ex-partners often resort to lies and half-truths to cope with the pain of separation. They may also resort to self-delusion, which can make them dangerous. The only viable coping strategy is to ignore the abusive ex and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family. Avoid all gratuitous interactions, and do not collude or collaborate in your ex's fantasies and delusions. If your ex is paranoid delusional, he may be very dangerous, and you should take steps to minimize the danger to yourself and your household.

Fear of Intimacy, Cheating, and Preemptive Abandonment

People who fear intimacy will choose partners who are also afraid of intimacy, and they will both make sure there is no intimacy in the relationship. Abusive relationships are mutually exclusive to intimacy, and people with fear of intimacy choose abusers as their partners because being abused is their comfort zone. Narcissists are terrified of losing their source of secondary narcissistic supply, usually their spouse or intimate partner, and they push their intimate partner away to allay their anxiety over the impending and ineluctable loss of the relationship.

Histrionic Woman's Guide to Men

Histrionic women respond differently to two types of men. The first type is men who openly desire the histrionic woman, but after a brief affair, they begin to bore her. The second type is men who are visibly attracted to the histrionic, but are very avoidant emotionally, or even absent emotionally. Histrionic women abhor intimacy and love, but they need mind games. With these men, there is always some game going on.

Body Language of Narcissistic and Psychopathic Abuser

Abusers emit subtle signals in their body language that can be observed and discerned. They adopt a posture of superiority and entitlement, and they idealize or devalue their interlocutors. Abusers are shallow and prefer show-off to substance, and they are serious about themselves. They lack empathy, are sadistic, and have inappropriate affect. They are adept at casting a veil of secrecy over their dysfunction and misbehavior, and they succeed in deceiving the entire world.

Contract with Your Abuser - Part II

To negotiate with an abuser, it is best to co-opt their prejudices and pathology by catering to their infantile emotional needs and complying with their wishes, complex rules, and arbitrary rituals. It is useless to confront the abuser head-on to engage in power politics. To move the abuser to attend couple or marital therapy, tell them that you need their help to restore your relationship to its former warmth and intimacy. Gradually, try to free the rigid edges of your sex rules.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
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