Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Online social networks-Psychological aspects, Cyberstalking-Psychological aspects, Delusions, Interpersonal relations, Theoretical, Emergent internet trends, Social contagion, Emergent norm theory, Relational theory, Delusional disorder


This study examines emerging concerns about small online social communities that purport to support their members, but which in actuality exacerbate mental health issues. Here, the author focuses on one such community that has gone unstudied: The Gang Stalking community. Here, individuals who seem to suffer from Delusional Disorder come together and discuss their experiences of being stalked by a multitude of people in concert with the sole aim of creating terror in their lives. These people call themselves Targeted Individuals. The support that these individuals find on gang stalking websites soothes their amorphous anxiety about being watched, but in the end exacerbates the problem by concretizing their delusions, making it virtually impossible for loved ones or mental health professionals to provide real-life support, and further isolating them. This study uses Emergent Norm Theory to describe how gang stalking groups are formed, and Relational Theory to deconstruct why individuals are drawn to those websites, and to posit potential modes of treatment for affected populations.




iii, 45 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 42-45)