A couple of days ago, regular reader Jake Blake posted a very interesting video in the comments section. Created by MrMentalInertia, a self-confessed reformed conspiracy theorist, the video describes the strange internet phenomenon known as “gang-stalking”—or at least, it describes the people who believe that such a thing as gang-stalking exists. We highly recommend that you watch it—it’s both fascinating and well-made:
In the strange world of gangstalking, people refer to themselves, without even a trace of irony, as “targeted individuals”, or TIs. They believe they are being watched, though who exactly is watching them is not always clear; however, they tend to misinterpret everyday events as clearcut evidence that someone is after them—Freemasons, Satanists, Rothschilds, Jews, the Illuminati, shape-shifting reptilians, you name it. They believe that these nefarious organisations employ “handlers” to keep them under surveillance at all times, and they think “voice to skull” (or V2K) technology is used to transmit thoughts directly into their brains.
In the past, those who believe they are being gang-stalked might have been referred to a mental health professional. These days, they’re more likely to be found online, where they’ve found communities of others who, like them, are suffering symptoms of paranoid delusions. Only they don’t call it that; they call it “whistle-blowing” or “resisting mind control”. And people in these groups will often counsel one another to avoid contact with the mental health system, which they feel will only make their problems worse:
Is any of this starting to sound familiar?
Many of those who promote the Hampstead SRA hoax have expressed similar concerns—fear that they might be losing control, that they might need help to overcome a mental health problerm—and have been given false reassurances, or had their treatment undermined, by their alleged “friends”:
Rather than accepting that Arfur (or Jake for that matter) had been showing very clear signs of mental deterioration in the couple of weeks before he was finally sectioned, Angela continues to push the idea that he is some sort of “prisoner of conscience”. She did the same with Jake Clarke last autumn, to his detriment.
Before Arfur was sectioned, he left several garbled, profane phone messages on Sonya van Gelder’s voicemail:
None of Arfur’s so-called friends urged him to seek help; most seemed utterly shocked when he was sectioned, and like Angela, appear to believe that he was “silenced by the authorities”, rather than receiving badly needed help.
In a 2008 article in the New York Times, Sarah Kershaw wrote:
Although many Internet groups that offer peer support are considered helpful to the mentally ill, some experts say Web sites that amplify reports of mind control and group stalking represent a dark side of social networking. They may reinforce the troubled thinking of the mentally ill and impede treatment.
Dr. Ralph Hoffman, a psychiatry professor at Yale who studies delusions, said a growing number of his research subjects have told him of visiting mind-control sites, and finding in them confirmation of their own experiences.
The views of these belief systems are like a shark that has to be constantly fed,” Dr. Hoffman said. “If you don’t feed the delusion, sooner or later it will die out or diminish on its own accord. The key thing is that it needs to be repetitively reinforced.”
That is what the Web sites do, he said.
While it’s easy to write some people off as “internet crazies”, the gang-stalking video makes an important point: when these people turn to their internet communities for support, rather than seeking the help they so badly need, tragedy can ensue.
For example, in November 2014, a gunman opened fire in the library at Florida State University, wounding three students before he was shot and killed by police. The gunman’s name was Myron May, and while no one realised it at the time of the shooting, he had been a member of a Facebook group called “Targetted Individuals International”. In the week before he went to the FSU library, he tried to reach out to one of his fellow “TIs”, a woman named Renee Pittman Mitchell:
While a non-TI would probably have clued into Myron’s very clear distress calls and insisted that he get psychiatric help, Ms Mitchell became suspicious of him, believing he might be a danger to her.
And in the “Targeted Individuals International” Facebook group, no one seemed to think that Myron’s message about being “encouraged by (his) handler to kill with a promise of freedom” was anything unusual, or worth reporting:
Instead of recognising that Myron might have been having auditory hallucinations, his friends in the Facebook group did nothing…because they were too busy thinking about their own “handlers” and “V2K” messages and such. Following his death, Myron became a kind of Christ-figure to the TI community online, glorified as a martyr to their cause.
While we aren’t trying to claim that any of the Hoaxtead promoters are planning a mass shooting, it’s clear that some of them suffer from thought disorders, delusions, and even hallucinations—and that they are not getting the help they need from their friends online.