Crime Self Help

The Psychology Behind Stalking


A pattern of persistent harassment, texts, phone calls, and other codes of conduct directed towards a particular person can be interpreted as stalking. This activity leaves the target feeling uneasy and overburdened. In modern society, Stalking has been listed as a crime in several countries and interventions and helplines have been provided for people who have fallen victim to this crime. In this article, we will investigate the intricate psychology behind stalking, and what goes into the mind of a stalker while committing this act.

Read More: The effect of stalking behavior on psychological well being of women

Motivation Behind Stalking

The most common trait which is found in every stalker is obsession. This is their primary motive behind stalking their target as they are fixated on a specific person and form a desire to control or have a relationship with them. To delve more into the information about the force that drives a stalker to commit this act, having an understanding of the various types of stalking profiles is beneficial.

  • The Rejected Stalker: Typically, the rejected stalker begins to stalk after facing a breakdown of the close relationship with their target, The victim is commonly a close family, platonic or romantic partner. The objective of the stalker can range from either planning a reconciliation or revenge. It is also known as the most common type of stalking.
  • The resentful stalker: In contrast to the rejected stalker profile, resentful stalkers are completely driven out by the force of revenge. The influence and command that stalking provides to resentful stalkers makes them pleased. Those who are victims are strangers or acquaintances who appear to have abused the stalker making them feel injustice or humiliated.
  • The Predatory Stalker: Statistics show that in the profile of a predatory stalker, the stalker is mostly a male and the victim is a woman. The act of stalking is frequently started to obtain sexual pleasure, either by voyeurism or by gathering personal data about the victim before engaging in sexual assault. Targeting their victim can provide the stalker with a sense of power and control, making predatory stalking both useful and satisfying.
  • The Incompetent Suitor: The stalker usually targets strangers or acquaintances and frequently stalks people out of loneliness or sexual desire. But unlike the Intimacy Seeker, their main objective is to have a date or have a brief sexual engagement rather than build a lasting relationship. Even though their stalker behaviour is frequently transient, it can be sustained by a lack of understanding or indifference to the victim’s suffering. Certain Incompetent Suitors may suffer from diseases like autism spectrum disorders or intellectual disabilities, which might impair their cognitive abilities or social skills.
  • The intimacy-seeking stalker: The Intimacy Stalker is generally motivated by a great desire for intimacy and emotional connection, which stems from a sense of loneliness. This sort of stalking typically targets strangers or acquaintances whom the stalker perceives to be prospective romantic partners. In other circumstances, the stalker may hold delusions about the victim, such as believing they are already in a love connection despite evidence to the contrary. This sort of stalking is frequently sustained by the stalker’s assumption that they have a unique, intimate connection with the victim, which provides a sense of joy and fulfilment. It’s worth noting that intimacy-seeking stalking is frequently linked to serious mental illnesses like erotomania.

Read More: Nurturing Intimacy: Strategies to Deepen Your Connection with Your Partner

Behaviour Patterns And Cycles

The behaviour patterns of stalkers can stem from the behavioural traits that they exhibit, such as narcissism, lack of empathy, low self-esteem, and attachment issues. The time limit of how long a stalker will commit this act is not definitive. Experts believe that some stalkers don’t stop until they are dead. This unwanted and repeated behaviour is not just a random event, but a characterisation of distinct patterns and cycles. The cycle can be understood in 3 simple terms:

  1. Fixation
  2. Escalation
  3. Violence
The Obsessive Fixation Phase

In the first phase of stalking, the perpetrator forms an obsession and becomes fixated on their target. They then tend to make efforts to woo the victim so they can establish a relationship with each other based on the delusional beliefs of the stalker. They may collect personal information about their target, and harass them with unwanted phone calls, texts, letters or even threats. This pattern of behaviour turns more intrusive over time resulting in the second phase.

The Escalation Phase

When the stalker feels that their advances are being rejected, their behaviour pattern may become more frequent and intrusive over time blackmailing and harassment towards the victim are commonly found in this second phase of stalking. The stalker may coerce the victim to establish a relationship with them and if the person denies doing so, the behaviour of the perpetrator may become more severe. They may break into the victim’s home, spread rumours about them, blackmail the victim into exposing his/her personal information, or try to leave evidence of their presence in the target’s surroundings which instils fear and anxiety in the victim’s mind about his/her privacy.


As this harassment and menacing behaviour towards the victim increases, if the stalker feels that the target is not giving in and the abuser is not feeling satisfied with their target’s response, they may resort to violence as a psychological defence of not feeling in control. Violent behaviour may include sexual or physical attacks, vandalism, kidnapping, attempted murder, etc.

Read More: Exploring the Motivations Behind a Stalker’s Behavior

Summarising this article we can conclude that the heinous crime of stalking can lead to significant distress in the victim’s mental health. Stalking is a crime in India and if someone is experiencing this distress, there are helplines and interventions provided for them. Recognising the complexity of the psychology of stalking addressed in the article can make us understand better about this topic so that we can help the victims and hold the abusers accountable for their actions.

References +
  • Spitzberg, B. H., & Cupach, W. R. (2007). The state of the art of stalking: Taking stock of the emerging literature. Aggression and violent Behavior, 12(1), 64-86.
  • Patton, C. L., Nobles, M. R., & Fox, K. A. (2010). Look who’s stalking: Obsessive pursuit and attachment theory. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(3), 282–290.
  • Mullen, P. E., Pathé, M., & Purcell, R. (2008). The predatory stalker. In Cambridge University Press eBooks (pp. 110–123).
  • Miller, L. (2012). Stalking: Patterns, motives, and intervention strategies. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17(6), 495–506.
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