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Factors Associated with Escalation and Problematic Approaches Toward Public Figures


  • Study undertaken as part of the Fixated Persons’ Project, which was commissioned and financially supported by the British Home Office. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Home Office.

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J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D.
Forensis, Inc.
PO Box 90699
San Diego, CA 92169


Abstract:  Detailed comparison of factors associated with abnormal approach to the prominent and with escalation from communication to approach has not hitherto been undertaken. This partially reflects the failure of individual studies to adopt compatible terminologies. This study involves a careful dissection of six public figure studies, three involving U.S. politicians, two Hollywood celebrities, and one the British Royal Family. Common findings were unearthed across six headings. Approachers were significantly more likely to exhibit serious mental illness, engage in multiple means of communication, involve multiple contacts/targets, and to incorporate into their communication requests for help. They were significantly less likely to use threatening or antagonistic language in their communications, except in those cases involving security breaches. These results emphasize the importance of integrating mental health findings and preventive measures into risk management. Approach should not be regarded as a single behavioral category and has multiple motivations. Future studies should adopt standard terminology, preferably taken from the general stalking research.