Often, people log on looking for help—“Am I going crazy or am i being stalked? ” reads a post on a gangstalking subreddit shared at the beginning of 2020 by a teen who claimed to have a schizophrenia diagnosis—and leave with what they believe are the answers. (Editor’s note: we have decided not to link to any of the gangstalking-related posts or forums mentioned in this article.
Gold notes it is obviously “not necessary to be on these chat rooms” in order to develop gangstalking delusions, but from a treatment perspective, he says gangstalking sites “complicate matters. ” “If I was seeing someone who believed they were being gangstalked and I gingerly explained why I thought they were suffering from mental illness, they could very simply and confidently point to these chat sites and say, ‘Are we all crazy? ’ It becomes much more challenging.
Gold says many of his patients with the Truman Show delusion only came to believe they were a TV star after they had watched the movie, with many of them explicitly referencing the film as a moment of enlightenment. It’s possible that some people stumble upon gangstalking sites and these sites influence the form their delusions take.
Sheridan and James found that—compared to people who experienced stalking from an individual—people who believed they were being gangstalked scored more highly on depressive and post-traumatic symptoms, and “had a clear need for psychiatric support. ” The authors concluded that gangstalking is “delusional in basis,” with those surveyed making improbable claims about hostile gangstalkers in their children’s schools, traffic lights being manipulated to always turn red, mind-controlled family and friends, and the invasion of their dreams.
Harry, the young man who tried to offer a voice of dissent on a gangstalking subreddit, says that despite receiving negative comments, a handful of people messaged him privately for help. “A lot of time the people that were posting there had no one to help them, no one to talk to,” Harry says. “Even though there are resources out there, they need help to figure out what those resources are.
A couple of users offered to strike up friendship, and it seems the original poster achieved his desire to find, “people who understand you, believe you, just know what it’s like. ” In a Facebook group for people who believe themselves to be victims of gangstalking, which has nearly 8,000 members, users discourage suicide, pray for one another, and encourage each other to “stay strong.
When asked what he thinks about the fact that people like his sister can still participate in gangstalking forums today, he doesn’t mince words. “I think about my sister in her more lucid moments, when she was medicated, when she volunteered to help people who were mentally ill—if she saw what I saw, she would be on the internet every day trying to shut it down .
Therapy remains unaffordable and inaccessible for many in the US—the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that the average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years, while 60% of US counties do not have a practicing psychiatrist. “I would just really like to talk—about anything,” wrote one user on a gangstalking subreddit in May, asking users to chat with him about Netflix, the weather, and birds.
She thought her family were gangstalkers and she was going to be forced to become a “breeder. “It blew my mind to see there was a giant group of people basically reinforcing this,” Danny says of finding the online groups. “Something like that was probably the worst thing she could have seen.
In a Facebook group for people who believe they are the targets of gangstalking, an April post read, “Burn all 5g towers down,” to which commenters added, “NO!
And though small compared with the most popular online forums, gangstalking communities are growing quickly; one estimate from 2016 suggested that there might be 10,000 people in such groups across the internet.
Right now, on Facebook pages, forums, blogs, YouTube channels, and subreddits across the internet, thousands of people are sharing their belief that they are being “gangstalked. ” These self-described “targeted individuals” say they are being monitored, harassed, and stalked 24/7 by governments and other organizations.
As he combed through Jenny’s computer, Danny found his sister subscribed under a series of aliases to what he describes as hundreds of gangstalking groups across Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.
Still, the forum made him angry. “If anyone had acted like they believed me or gone along with my delusions, that probably would’ve added another month to breaking out of it,” he says now. “It’s hard enough to break out of it when nobody believes you … but if you have a community of people that are willing to agree with you that the entire world’s against you, it’s bad, bad trouble.