On SAGE Insight: Psychopathology of Stalking Offenders


Article title: Psychopathology of Stalking Offenders: Examining the Clinical, Demographic, and Stalking Characteristics of a Community-Based Sample

From Criminal Justice and Behavior

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This study examined the correlates of stalking behavior and psychopathology among stalking offenders assessed using a rigorous diagnostic tool. The study used data collected from 137 stalking offenders referred to a community-based treatment program between 2005 and 2013 in New York City.

Stalking offenders are a heterogeneous group of individuals whose behavior is driven by a wide range of psychopathology and motivations. Although a growing literature has examined the characteristics of stalking offenders and the consequences of their behavior, much of this research has been based on archival reviews of forensic evaluations or police files. This study represents the first attempt to apply a rigorous diagnostic protocol to examine the clinical characteristics of stalking offenders, to more precisely assess the relationship between psychopathology and stalking behaviors. Over a third of the sample met criteria for two or more different types of mental disorders (i.e., psychotic disorder, mood or anxiety disorder, substance use disorder, or personality disorder), with the highest comorbidity being personality and substance use disorders. Psychotic stalking offenders in this study were more likely to pursue friends, acquaintances, or business associates in attempts to initiate intimate relationships, whereas nonpsychotic offenders were more likely to stalk prior intimates.

Larger sample sizes are needed to investigate potentially important differences among the range of personality disorders identified in this study, with added focus on the relationship between schizoid, narcissistic, and paranoid personality disorders as they relate to stalking behaviors.

Abstract

This study examined the correlates of stalking behavior and psychopathology among stalking offenders assessed using a rigorous diagnostic tool. A total of 137 stalking offenders were interviewed and diagnosed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I and Axis II Disorders. Analyses examined the extent to which stalking behaviors and offender characteristics differed across diagnostic groups. Study participants were African American (29%), Hispanic (28%), or Caucasian (28%), and had an average age of 36 years old (SD = 11). The most common instant offenses were stalking/harassment (53%) and violation of an order of protection or criminal contempt (18%). Seventy-two percent met criteria for a clinical diagnosis, and there were high rates of comorbidity: psychotic disorder (10%), mood or anxiety disorder (31%), substance use disorder (46%), and personality disorder (50%). Over a quarter (28%) of the sample’s stalking behaviors occurred in the absence of psychopathology. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.

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Article details
Psychopathology of Stalking Offenders: Examining the Clinical, Demographic, and Stalking Characteristics of a Community-Based Sample
Georgina E Mann, Amelia Taylor, Bernadette Wren and Nastasja de Graaf – The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, UK
First Published March 28, 2018 Research Article 
DOI: 10.1177/0093854818760643
From Criminal Justice and Behavior


     
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