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Approaching and Attacking Public Figures: A Contemporary Analysis of Communications and Behavior--J. Reid Meloy
Pages 75-102

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From page 75...
... It is necessary given the disparate research that has been conducted on samples of problematic approachers and samples of attackers and, in some cases, the divergence of results. It is the author's hope that detailing these differences and similarities will broaden and deepen the understanding of such behaviors and also contribute to advances in operational research while ensuring the safety of public figures.
From page 76...
... Multiple contacts or targets is the most disparate heading and combines a subject's repetitive contact of a target through any means of communication and the subject's contact of other public figure targets -- both have the characteristics of repetitiveness and dispersion. No antagonistic communications refers to the absence of any hostile, abusive, or degrading aspects to the communications.
From page 77...
... This is a logical error but appears to have become operationalized in some threat assessments -- for example, the false belief that if there is no communicated threat, there is no risk, or that those who make a direct threat do not pose a threat. Consider the following data, which indicate the proportion of subjects who directly threatened a public figure and then did make a subsequent approach: · 23 percent (Dietz et al., 1991a)
From page 78...
... . Behavioral Pathway, Motivation, and Mental Disorder Odd, inappropriate, bizarre, or threatening communication addressed to a public figure cannot be fully understood by itself without other information about the sender, especially the behavioral pathway, motivation, and nature of the sender's mental disorder.
From page 79...
... A typology developed from a random sample of subjects of concern can bring more efficiency to the assignment and utilization of protective intelligence resources. Such work, along with research on mental disorders and behavioral pathways, could eventuate in an iterative decision-tree model for estimating the risk of problematic approaches toward or stalking of a protectee, much like the Classification of Violence Risk, developed to help predict the risk of short-term violence among persons discharged from acute care psychiatric facilities (Monahan et al., 2001; Monahan, 2010)
From page 80...
... Such fixations are distinguished from political extremism, which usually emerges in interactions of an actual or virtual group on the fringes of the traditional political process and is not as intensely personalized. The nature of the fixations evident in abnormal communications to public figures has been studied in the context of British and Western European attackers (James et al., 2007, 2008)
From page 81...
... ; development of a "warrior mentality" (Hempel et al., 1999) ; interest in and study of previous assassins or public figure attackers; or fascination with weapons, as indicated by collection, approach, skill development, or fantasy-based associations (Meloy, 1992a)
From page 82...
... These seven categories have face validity and are commonly encountered in threat assessment cases, but they have not been subjected to empirical testing to determine their inter-rater reliability or their validity in predicting an attack. Grandiosity and Entitled Reciprocity Grandiosity and entitled reciprocity have emerged as two important psychological characteristics of subjects who approach public figures.
From page 83...
... . Entitled reciprocity is the belief that a particular public figure owes the subject time and attention because of the time and attention the subject has paid to the public figure (Meloy et al., 2008b)
From page 84...
... Any attempts to contrast samples of written letters and e-mails to public figures, with a focus on variables predicting a problematic approach, would contribute to this nascent area of investigation. Historically, written communications to public figures held a central place in threat assessment investigation, until challenged by the work of Fein and Vossekuil (1998, 1999)
From page 85...
... Such findings have moved threats from principal actor to supporting role in the theater of public figure threat assessment. However, warning behaviors -- the somewhat obscure elements of a decision called "posing a threat" -- are not clearly enunciated in the research, as noted earlier, and characteristics that lead to the decision that a subject "poses a threat" are also unknown.
From page 86...
... Threat assessment professionals will find the description of behaviors and symptoms related to a mental disorder more useful than the particular diagnostic label. For example, discovering through investigative efforts that a particular subject has paranoid schizophrenia is much less relevant to threat assessment than noting that the subject believes the public target is an alien from another planet and needs to be killed so that he does not propagate and threaten other humans.
From page 87...
... of mental state at the time of the principal incident. Moreover, the studies of attacks on public figures in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Western Europe discussed here underscore the fact that serious mental disorders do not mitigate the risk of a planned attack on a public figure.
From page 88...
... Conflation of the Politics of Hatred One of the most important emerging trends in threats toward public figures in the United States is conflation of the various politics of hatred, which then becomes a pathological fixation. This contemporary conflation usually includes hatred of African Americans, Jews, the federal government, abortion rights supporters, or gun control advocates.
From page 89...
... . 6 The clearest and most recent example of the completed assassination of a public figure that was politically motivated yet was interpreted in the subsequent criminal litigation as being primarily motivated by psychiatric disorder was the killing of Robert F
From page 90...
... . Leakage is one of the seven types of warning behaviors noted earlier and is characteristic of both assassins of public figures and mass murderers (Hempel et al., 1999; Meloy et al., 2004a)
From page 91...
... New Threat Research Although leakage is typically much more prevalent than a direct threat when investigating a problematic approacher or potential attacker of a public figure, new homicidal threat research, mostly related to stalking of nonpublic figures and in a mental health context, empirically supports the conventional belief that all threats should be taken seriously. Warren et al.
From page 92...
... Likewise, the ECSP and European attacks studies documented the minor role of paranoia among assassins, attackers, and near-lethal approachers. In the FBI study the author believed that the results could be generalized to all written threat cases of the FBI's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes, although only 10 percent of the cases involved public figures as targets (Smith, 2008)
From page 93...
... The construct of psychopathy has received virtually no attention in the research on stalking, threatening, and attacking public figures. Psychopathy, or psychopathic personality, is characterized by affective deficiency (i.e., absence of empathy, bonding, guilt, or remorse)
From page 94...
... In the European attacks study (James et al., 2007) , 46 percent were determined to have no mental disorder, highlighting the reliable absence of mental disorder in a proportion of public figure attackers and the likely presence, though unmeasured, of character pathology (such as psychopathy)
From page 95...
... A subject might disrupt the public figure's schedule, there may be recidivism or persistence of pursuit (James et al., 2009b) , or a problematic approacher might embarrass or inconvenience a public figure target through behaviors that pose no physical threat.
From page 96...
... Perhaps the most onerous threat toward the children of public figures is kidnapping. Although research in this area is dated and no published research has focused exclusively on the children of public figures, there were 115 stereotypical kidnappings in 1999, defined as abductions perpetrated by a stranger or slight acquaintance and involving a child who was transported 50 or more miles, detained overnight, held for ransom or with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed.
From page 97...
... , challenging historical beliefs and assumptions that have guided operational decisions, even when based on a robust research program. Research studies of individuals who problematically approach, escalate, and in a few cases attack public figures should not only utilize nomothetic (large-group)
From page 98...
... Sheridan, and J Hoffmann, eds., Stalking, Threatening, and Attacking Public Figures: A Psychological and Behavioral Analysis (pp.
From page 99...
... Sheridan, and J Hoffmann, eds., Stalking, Threatening, and Attacking Public Figures (pp.
From page 100...
... Sheridan , and J Hoffmann, eds., Stalking, Threatening, and Attacking Public Figures: A Psychological and Behavioral Analysis (pp.
From page 101...
... Sheridan, and J Hoffmann, eds., Stalking, Threatening, and Attacking Public Figures: A Psychological and Behavioral Analysis (pp.


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