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Understanding Stalking: A Psychological Perspective

Illustration of stalking (Photo: Unsplash)
Illustration of stalking (Photo: Unsplash)

UNAIR NEWS – In the digital age, stalking has garnered significant attention, recently evolving into cyber harassment. This behavior not only imposes psychological consequences on victims but also underscores the need for psychological intervention for perpetrators.

Stalking, often underestimated, carries complex psychological undertones and serious consequences. Dr. Tri Kurniati Ambarini, a psychopathology expert from Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), has highlighted the increasing cases of stalking.

Dr. Ambarini explains that the progression from obsession to stalking involves several psychological stages. She revealed that stalking is often a mechanism for reducing anxiety in the perpetrator.

“Stalking usually serves as a way for individuals to reduce their anxiety, driven by an obsessive fixation on the target as a form of compulsion,” she explained.

“This obsessive behavior then progresses to the stage of information gathering about the target. Once the perpetrator has obtained this information, they often begin to contact and disturb the target, sometimes even trying to control their interactions,” Dr. Ambarini elaborated.

Dr. Tri Kurniati Ambarini, a psychopathology expert from Universitas Airlangga (Photo: By courtesy)

Dr. Ambarini explained that stalking stems from serious mental health issues. She suggested that stalkers may experience anxiety, depression, or social isolation due to their undesirable behavior.

Furthermore, she noted that stalking may be linked to certain mental disorders. “Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder can be factors that drive someone to become a stalker,” she revealed.

Dr. Ambarini highlighted that stalking behavior can damage personal or professional relationships due to the fear and discomfort experienced by the victim.

“Overall, stalking not only directly harms the victim but also has serious and detrimental long-term effects on the perpetrator,” Dr. Ambarini stated.

She also emphasized the legal consequences and personal repercussions stalkers may face. “Stalking can lead to severe legal consequences and damage the perpetrator’s reputation or career in the long run,” she added.

To address this issue, Dr. Ambarini recommended individual psychological intervention through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). She believes that this therapy is effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorders and related anxiety disorders.

“CBT helps perpetrators change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors associated with their obsession with the victim. Exposure therapy, a technique within CBT, is particularly effective in cases of compulsive obsession,” she explained.

Dr. Ambarini outlines the basic principles of exposure therapy, which include identifying compulsive obsessions, creating a hierarchy of these obsessions, and altering responses to each level to become more proportional or rational.

Besides CBT, Dr. Ambarini recommended relaxation techniques, meditation, and movement therapy to reduce stress. She believes that effective stress management can prevent the exacerbation of stalking behaviors.

Moreover, Dr. Ambarini underscores the importance of social support in the recovery process. “Integration of support from family or friends is crucial in accelerating the recovery process for the perpetrator,” she elaborated.

In conclusion, Dr. Ambarini stressed the necessity of a multidisciplinary approach in addressing stalking cases, involving psychologists, law enforcement, and the general community to provide support for victims and interventions for perpetrators.

“With proper psychological intervention and robust social support, the chances of recovery for stalkers increase. Additionally, it offers hope for victims to attain justice and peace,” she concluded.

Author: Aidatul Fitriyah

Editor: Khefti Al Mawalia