The Psychiatrization of Gangstalking

Is mainstream discourse around gangstalking the psychiatrization of a form of mobbing and surveillance to shift the blame from the perpetrators to the victim? Gangstalking is a phenomenon where a group of people, in a coordinated and covert manner, target an individual for harassment. In a recent Quillete podcast, with the help of host Jonathan Kay, psychiatrist Andrew Lustig portrays gangstalking as a conspiracist internet subculture.

I do not argue in this blog there are no instances in which individuals falsely believe others are ganging up on them or that they are being surveilled. Individuals often attribute meaning to seeming patterns occurring around them. Individuals may develop delusions and paranoia. But there are also instances in which individuals become aware that others have ganged up on them or that they are being watched.

There are cases of workplace mobbing in which the goal is to gaslight the target in order to destabilize her consciousness and disrupt her mood in order to drive her from her job. There are also cases of Internet mobbing, where a gang forms and orchestrates a bullying or gaslighting campaign. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which an individual or group makes a person question his perception of reality, recollections, or sanity. Cancel culture sometimes comes with these features.

As an undergraduate in the early 1990s, an abnormal psychology professor described to the class a case from his clinical practice of a construction worker who, in his descriptions of mobbing, sounded delusional. Why would his coworkers want to do this to him? The lengths to which his coworkers would go to torment him seemed implausible. Maybe it was childish pranking exaggerated by his mind. The client was so sure this was happening to him the psychologist drove to one of the worksites and surveilled the scene. The client was not delusional. He was being mobbed. The professor told the class that getting to the bottom of a client’s situation sometimes involves checking out claims the client makes to see whether there is some truth to the claims. Other clinicians would very likely have diagnosed the man with a mental illness and medicated him.

Gaslighting, bullying, mobbing, gangstalking—these are real phenomena. A person’s emotional and psychological response to being bullied or gangstalked may be indistinguishable from “symptoms” cataloged by the diagnostic manuals of psychiatry. This is a revealing truth. Psychiatrists may falsely assume a world in which gangstalking could only be a delusional state of the mind in the targeted person, who suffers from a persecution complex, schizophrenia, etc. This redefinition of the problem, the professional denial of an actual phenomenon, serves ideological and political ends.

The psychiatric profession may even claim, exuding the authority of a licensed medial practitioner in an allegedly objective field of clinical practice, one guided by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, that those who argue that gangstalking is, at least in some situations, real, are themselves delusional. It is worth keeping in mind this historical analog: Those who challenged the witchfynder during the Inquisition and rejected the validity of the Malleus Maleficarum were themselves suspected of demon possession or of practicing witchcraft. If their resistance assumed a sophisticated form, they were designated heretics.

* * *

The psychological state paranoia, from the Greek παράνοια, is synonymous with the concept of madness. This equivalency is useful for maintaining control over people and situations. When something occurs that most observers regard as accidental or coincidental, the person who believes—with good reason—that what is happening is intentional, often appears to suffer from mental illness.

Unless the cause referenced is some supernatural thing (in which case, because such things are impossible, mental illness may be suspected), the rational thing for others to do, if one is interested in the question (which he must be or he would not be attending to it) would be to confirm or disconfirm the claim being made. Otherwise, dismissing claims out of hand as “paranoid” is a method of denying the truth behind a claim without making any effort to disprove it (usually because investigating it would prove it to be, at least in part, warranted).

That a person fears her government on grounds that it spies on people or disappears them does not make him paranoid. Indeed, based on what we know and are willing admit to ourselves, it makes him sane. Indeed, what may qualify as mental illness is the belief that government spying, kidnapping, torture, and assassination either do not occur, do not extend to US citizens, or that, as long as they don’t include US citizens, then they’re okay. Although these are desired beliefs from the perspective of power, they are all instances of delusional thinking for reasonably well-educated people.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

8 thoughts on “The Psychiatrization of Gangstalking”

  1. Dear Dr Lustig, The conclusion I draw from your blog is that a psychiatrist is not in the position to make a diagnosis of delusional disorder unless actual organized stalking is excluded. Yet, a psychiatrist is not in the position to conduct such investigation. I noticed you kept this point out of your interview on Quillette podcast, which made me disappointed because it is an important point don’t you think? You also didn’t comment on claims of directed energy and V2K which are real technologies.

    Yes, psychiatry is not what it used to be. You have to be informed about technological advances that re-write the rules of classic psychiatry. But there is no other way forward.

    1. Thank you for your comment. To clarify, I am not Lustig. My blog is criticizing Lustig and the organized attempt to gaslight those who have been victimized by gangstalking by denying its reality. I will say that failing to exclude alternative explanations does not necessarily make a claim unsound if it has empirical support, especially if alternative explanations are implausible.

  2. Implausible… who decides what is implausible? I have hundreds of audio files of voices… berating me calling me stupid and even saying my name and using the voices of people I know.., it’s all recorded. Others verified the voices are heard on recordings. I have videos with audio of recordings.. I have photos of spy drone in my backyard.. Finally, the most solid evidence…. I have otoscopic photos of biosensors in my ears.. glowing bc they are coated with crystals… easily visible nano sensors specifically cantilevers.. and the other ear has a black fiber with a red tip consistent with a fiberoptic or perhaps a larger cantilever that lost its crystallized coating… It punctured my tympanic membrane and remains embedded between my middle ear and the wall of my outer ear canal… It can be plucked like a guitar string. The evidence is in my ears.. and there is more… but isn’t that enough? I cant post the photos here or I would

    1. Thanks for the comment, Gallagher. I will attempt to answer the question about implausibility and then clarify the point of the blog. I don’t want the blog to misunderstood. I don’t want anybody to read into what I have written here things that were never intended. The blog was written after listening to a podcast that I felt was dismissive of experiences people have that are plausible.

      What is plausible is a reasonable argument or statement or a claim of an event or series of events or predictions that are probable. A rational person is cautious of arguments, statements, and claims and requires the burden rest with those making those arguments, statements, and claims. Beyond the demands of reason per se, it is important to be skeptical of claims because there are people who are highly persuasive in making what appear to be plausible claims, their passion about interpretations of events and evidence impressing audiences; insisting on actual plausibility is crucial to avoid deception and gullibility and the potential for social contagion, moral panic, and mass hysteria. Actual plausibility is ruled by reason and science. So it is not “who” decides what is implausible but *what* decides.

      The classic case of the implausible are the numerous claims across the United States and Canada of ritual satanic abuse in daycare facilities (the most famous cases was the McMartin Preschool trial). This case represented an extended and widespread instantiation of moral panic. It verged on mass hysteria. It was striking to see the similarities of claims made hundreds of miles apart. Social contagion works in subtle ways, leaning on common knowledge about mythic notions. The descriptions of events across cases were vidid and impassioned. They felt real to many people. However the content of claims and interpretation of events were implausible. Children cannot be flushed down toilets to enter secret underground rooms where infants are sacrificed to Satan and various other demons. This never happened although hundreds of people were absolutely convinced of it (and still are).

      There are many people who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Their stories are remarkably similar across cases. There are prophets who claim to speak to angels from heaven. The latter is more implausible than the former, to be sure, but both are to be viewed with skepticism and, without compelling evidence (unambiguous empirical evidence) and interpretation (obeying the rules of logic), there is no reason to believe them. They are implausible because they are likely to fail by empirical and logical standards.

      However, having said all that, the blog is not about adjudicating the many and various cases of individuals who believe biosensors have been inserted in their bodies, etc., in order to spy on them and so forth. For one thing, gangstalking is not intrinsically marked by such claims. Gangstalking is a phenomenon where a group of people harass another person in an organized and particular way. It is highly similar to workplace mobbing. Rather, the purpose of the blog is to point out that it is entirely plausible that there are actual cases of mobbing and gangstalking where the intent is to disorder a person’s mind and make them unsure of their reality, i.e., the technique of gaslighting.

      Gaslighting can produce devastating emotional and psychological effects in a person. For this reason gangstalking and psychosis are not mutually exclusive. A small group can appear as a large group. Other things going on in a person’s life can find new meaning in light of an actual experience. And so on. In other words, the point of the blog is to say that we cannot dismiss the claims of those who are being harassed in such a fashion by reducing their claims to psychiatric disorders and, moreover, that the psychiatrization of gangstalking may be a way of dismissing claims out of hand and delegitimizing the person without interrogating the claims.

      I hope that clarifies the blog, and thanks again for commenting.

  3. All of this said when are the people responsible for our moral compass in the world of physiology going to look at evidence as a whole inorder to combat the mental illness that follows those who are stalked in any form , is that not the reason for your work , to help others , I myself give little credence to your profession it is too wide of a field person to person to pin point or read a book that will lead us to a conclusion of the masses mental health or ability to repair or deem one way or the other if that makes since , the point I’m making is I see many scripts written on this that are trying to dismiss the point and not many trying in the field to study or help with the given evidence the persons that are suffering from this horrifically terrible demented torture b ffg ought soon them , when are we going to stand up for the laws and the civil liberties of the individual that is being persecuted without and reason to be brought to there knees begging you for help to find nothing but script on or about there mental state or there lack of stable mental health there is little growth in your field and I think it time for you to recognize the misfortune played against the innocents of our nation and the world as a whole ,this is an outrageous thing to have happen and as a very strong person hard to mess with is it not something I think alot of folk could withstand very long its horrific and time the people of a free nation bring this to a head and look deep into our own people that govern our country and upkeep the laws set in place to protect us from our own government over powering it’s own people’s with such terrible things that will surely ruin this world if not looked into and a hand put on the perpetrators to bring justice to the people suffering from this cruel act of internal act terrorism , thank you for reading my kind regards…TT targeted individual of the United States of America

    1. Thank you for your comment, Tom. Neither psychiatry nor clinical psychology are my areas of practice. I am a professional sociology specializing in, among other things, analyzing and criticizing systems of control, of which the mental health industry is one. I agree with you that the field has not advanced significantly over the years (indeed, it has even devolved in areas). However, the mental health industry has become functional to power by translating what are social problems into personal problems wherein individuals are marginalized as treated as patients rather than citizens.

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