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Approach and escalation in stalking

Troy E. McEwan, Rachel D. MacKenzie, Paul E. Mullen & David V. James.

Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology

Volume 23, Issue 3, 2012; 392-409.

 

Abstract

Approach and escalation from communication to approach are important considerations in stalking, because intrusive behaviours cause victims distress, and approach is a pre-requisite for attack. This study reports the first detailed examination of these behaviours in a 'general' stalking sample, specifically a cohort of 211 cases referred to a specialist clinic. In non-ex-intimate stalkers, approach was associated with psychosis and intimacy seeking motivation. The same associations applied to escalation, only more strongly so. A comparison of approach-only cases with escalators showed that the former were significantly less likely to be intimacy seekers and more likely to have non-psychotic diagnoses and to assault. These results are striking similar to those in public figure samples. No associations with approach or escalation were found in ex-intimate cases. These results illustrate the importance of treating psychosis, the substantial overlap between risk factors in public figure and general population victims, and the importance of motivation in stalking risk assessment.

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