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Mind Control Delusions and the Web

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the advertisers-soon-to-monetize-the-voices-in-my-head dept.

Social Networks 631

biohack writes "An article in the New York Times provides interesting insight into online communities of people who believe that they are subjected to mind control. 'Type "mind control" or "gang stalking" into Google, and Web sites appear that describe cases of persecution, both psychological and physical, related with the same minute details — red and white cars following victims, vandalism of their homes, snickering by those around them.' According to Dr. Vaughan Bell, a British psychologist who has researched the effect of the Internet on mental illness, '[the] extent of the community [...] poses a paradox to the traditional way delusion is defined under the diagnostic guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association, which says that if a belief is held by a person's "culture or subculture," it is not a delusion. The exception accounts for rituals of religious faith, for example.'"

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631 comments

Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747959)

I mean, I'm not a huge fan of psychology myself but for the New York Times to file this under Fashion & Style gives me the impression that all the cool kids are joining gang stalking support groups ... makes one wonder what will the next fad be?

The exception accounts for rituals of religious faith, for example.

Remember, it's fashionable to be a nutcase, to claim people are out to get you, to believe you're being persecuted & suppressed--just look at Tom Cruise [gawker.com] .

It's been pointed out before but the internet is a very real, very powerful, very double-edged communications tool.

Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (4, Funny)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748031)

Tin foil hats are quite the style these days.

Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (0, Redundant)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748663)

"Tin foil hats are quite the style these days."

I was 0wn3d by demons, then I was Napoleon, then I developed cerebral RF protection, and now the lamers are copying THAT.

People be hatin' on my aluminum beret, and that shit ain't funny. :(

Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (4, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748071)

... to believe you're being persecuted & suppressed--just look at Tom Cruise [gawker.com] .

Actually, if you look at how Scientology treats its members (especially the really valuable or potentially embarrassing ones), in all likelihood Tom Cruise is being persecuted & suppressed.

Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (5, Insightful)

77Punker (673758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748149)

If you look at how people outside Scientology treat the cult's victims (Tom Cruise) like lepers instead of offering an outside world of love and compassion, maybe it does make sense for him to think that the world is out to get him.

What people in cults need is to feel welcomed into the world outside the cult; otherwise, they'll just get pushed farther into their fantasy world.

Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (4, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748521)

The question is, does Tom Cruise really believe in Scientology, or is he a cynical opportunist? The upper echelons of the organization tend to benefit financially. The truly brainwashed deserve sympathy, but the cult leaders, who benefit from their underlings' credulity, deserve scorn.

Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (3, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748579)

Well put. Persecuted, exploited, abused, but embraced within the cult and ridiculed, untrusted, and almost unwelcome outside the cult. That's gotta be a helluva way to live.

With only a pair of sentences, you made me pity Tom Cruise. Thank you.

Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748781)

ridiculed, untrusted, and almost unwelcome outside the cult.

Anonymous made them a cake.

No, really. [youtube.com] .

Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (4, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748597)

In some ways it is...
It is part of Nature vs. Nurture In a world that seems crazy and irrational. The feeling that there are forces out there to to get you and purposely hurt you is easier to accept then a world where most people just don't care about you. That way you feel more important. Hey I must be important if people are trying to kill me. Then when you join these groups just like a any other Cliques you have a sense that you are some how in the majority. Much like on how Slashdot it feels like Linux has about 75% market share in the world. While it still only has about 1%-3%.

Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (2, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748741)

and apparently the articles posted in the Fashion & Style section don't go through any kind of editing or proof-reading process:
"Some have hundreds of postings, along with links to dozers of similar sties.[sic.]"
"Mr. Robinson said in an interview that that [sic.] he has been tortured and abused by gang stalkers..."

in any case, i find the notion of shared delusion very fascinating. as Ronald De Sousa puts it, "When enough people share a delusion, it loses its status as a psychosis and gets religious tax exemption instead." the article also mentions this paradox in the medical definition of delusional beliefs.

folie à deux [wikipedia.org] (madness shared by two) is the name for a psychiatric condition in which two people share a common delusional belief. similarly, folie à trois, folie à quatre, and folie à famille refer to shared delusions between 3 people, 4 people, and all members of a family, respectively. then there is the general case of folie à plusieurs, or madness of the many. but at which point does mass delusion become an accepted subculture rather than a psychiatric disorder? there doesn't seem to be a discrete boundary between what constitutes mental illness and what is considered socially acceptable behavior.

i mean, why should it make any difference how many people share a common delusion. a fallacy is a fallacy regardless of how many people believe in the fallacy. should medical diagnostic criteria pay tribute to political correctness? whether you were socialized with irrational, factually unsupported beliefs by 5 people or 500 people, it's still a delusion. factual reality isn't dictated by majority opinion.

Paranoia (5, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747967)

Being paranoid doesn't necessarily mean they aren't really out to get you.

Re:Paranoia (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748041)

It's true! I just read that on the internet!

Re:Paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748063)

It's true! I just read that on the internet!

Trust the Internet. The Internet is your friend.

(And what is your karma rating, Slashdotter?)

Re:Paranoia (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748065)

"His group of self-described "targeted individuals" met offline in
Los Angeles last month for their inaugural conference, he said, where they attended a meeting to share stories, including the humiliating experiences of being told they are insane."

Oh, that explains it all! Just kidding.

"Subsequent research generally showed that those who believed they had been abducted were not psychotic, but suffering from severe memory and sleep problems, or personal traumas, Dr. Bell said."

In other words, stay sober as much as possible, get some sleep, and deal with your trauma in a healty manner. It's no accident that certain antipsychotics are also prescribed as sleeping aids. Self-medication with alcohol and other drugs causes blackouts(memory loss) and poor quality of sleep.

Besides, foil-heads, if you believe that people are ganging up on you to get a rise out of you, just realize that you're still the star of the show! Stop caring, and they will stop buggin'. The only winning move is not to play.

Re:Paranoia (5, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748359)

I don't know how anyone can be aware of such times as the Red Scare and McCarthyism, or the modus operatus of groups like the CIA and KGB, and yet believe that this doesn't happen to people. Not to say that everyone who thinks it's happening to them is right, but clearly, it happens to people all the time, sometimes for periods measured in years and decades.

You know, people with superior hearing hear people who have bad hearing talking about them as they walk down the street all the time? Many if not most people make idle commentary about people passing by when they are bored, and people with bad hearing make false assumptions about how far their voice carries. Happens to me regularly... someone will make a comment about "the guy with the sideburns" to their friend, then I look em in the eyes, and they get a guilty look on their face. Really quite annoying, and I can see how it would drive a more mentally fragile person around the bend...

Re:Paranoia (5, Funny)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748583)

You know, people with superior hearing hear people who have bad hearing talking about them as they walk down the street all the time? Many if not most people make idle commentary about people passing by when they are bored, and people with bad hearing make false assumptions about how far their voice carries. Happens to me regularly... someone will make a comment about "the guy with the sideburns" to their friend, then I look em in the eyes, and they get a guilty look on their face. Really quite annoying, and I can see how it would drive a more mentally fragile person around the bend...

My wife thinks she can whisper. She can't. I've finally convinced her to stop trying, when it comes to saying things about other people that she doesn't want them to hear.

Re:Paranoia (2, Interesting)

xappax (876447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748613)

Really? That happens to you regularly? How confident are you that you're not just misinterpreting noisy chatter (as in pareidolia [wikipedia.org] ) and glaring at random people? Getting glared at by a stranger would certainly make me have a reaction that might look like guilt.

I would compare your experiences with people you know, and if they can't relate, consider how likely it is that your hearing is that much better than everyone else's.

Re:Paranoia (3, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748673)

I agree that such tactics have been used in the past and are being used now, and I'm glad to see that there are so many of them forming a support group. A hug with a lot of sympathy and understanding goes a long way to help people face life and dispel their magical thinking [wikipedia.org] , or at least to give them more strength to break free from actually being harassed and stalked!

To use your sideburns example above, you stated that you heard, "The guy with the sideburns" and knew somebody was talking about you. The problem with the paranoiac is that they hear something like "The guy with the sideburns..." and they fill in the blanks with their perception of the world. Sometimes there's no way to tell if the passerby said, "The guy with the sideburns is one cool stud" or if they said, "The guy with the sideburns has funny teeth and tonight we will slash his tires..."

Re:Paranoia (3, Insightful)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748679)

Jeez, get a load of that guy with the sideburns!

I have known a lot of paranoid people, and lots of times it seems to be confirmation bias and misunderstanding what is and is not commonplace feeding an innate mental imbalance. If you think there is a conspiracy of white cars driven by Asians monitoring your movements and you live in Koreatown, prepare to have your mind blown. If you are afraid of possibly-Arab men with mirrored sunglasses you will notice every single one, reinforcing your fears even while being within normal demographics.

It really doesn't help that a lot of these people think the medical establishment is part of the conspiracy and meds are part of the problem.

Re:Paranoia (4, Interesting)

gmack (197796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748689)

The problem though is that people see patterns and come to the wrong conclusion. It's the delusion that everything has to do with you.

See the same person driving behind you a lot? Could it be that that you leave around the same time every day and so does that person? If you think this is happening to you then you should break your patterns and see if their pattern changes as well.

As an example:
I had a girl think I was stalking her and confront me about it. Her evidence? Several times when she was praying I was nearby.

I thought about it for awhile since it's rather disconcerting when someone I wasn't paying any attention to whatsoever is suddenly screaming at me and accusing me of eavesdropping. I realized that I had a favorite seat and so did she. Her favorite seat was several rows behind me. Simple crowd dynamics explained that when she went up to pray I ended up being in the same area.

She could have tested her suspicions by praying elsewhere and saved me the headache and her the trouble of having her family think she lost her marbles.

Re:Paranoia (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748727)

Regularly? People are really that interested in you? I have fairly good hearing (I still haven't lost the upper range that bad fluorescents and CRTs produce) and don't hear that sort of stuff wandering the streets of NYC. Seems like the most likely explanations are:

  1. You're funny looking (no offense)
  2. You may be misinterpreting comments that have nothing to do with you
  3. You're a little delusional yourself

As for the whole "Red Scare/McCarthyism/CIA/KGB" justification, that's paranoid thinking right there. Most of those abuses are 50 years in the past. I can understand some worries about wiretapping or data sniffing, particularly if you are actually in a position that would be of interest to someone in the government (rightly or wrongly), but you have to keep practical limits in mind. The federal government in the U.S. employs ~14.5 million people (including the military, contractors and the post office). Most of them are administrative positions. It's simply not practical for the government to be tailing any significant number of people that closely, given that those people still have to fight wars, deliver the mail, distribute grants, etc. Unless these people have some realistic reason for why they would be followed, I'm inclined to blame paranoia.

Re:Paranoia (2, Funny)

operagost (62405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748897)

You know, people with superior hearing hear people who have bad hearing talking about them as they walk down the street all the time?

It's not your superior hearing. They're talking about you on the radio and you're picking it up on your fillings.

Re:Paranoia (3, Interesting)

JayAitch (1277640) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748385)

Stop caring, and they will stop buggin'.

I have a friend that has severe social anxiety. My brother and I are the only people he feels comfortable hanging out with. In the past I've been an enabler in some ways because I allow him to hang out at my house with the condition none of my other friends are coming. Well at some point I had enough.. I've been inviting others over without telling him in advance (he'd just make some excuse if I told him someone else is coming). One new friend at a time. He got mad at me at first, but he's starting to realize it's ok. His issue is he thinks everyone is talking/thinking about him. I have to continually remind him how unimportant he really is for him to accept that no one is talking about him.

Re:Paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748511)

right... a 'friend'.

this wouldn't actually be yourself you're describing, would it?

Re:Paranoia (2, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748571)

You just described me during middle and high school - although I wasn't quite that extreme. I too was extremely self-conscious and thought my classmates were watching/criticizing my every move. Although it was partly true, I eventually realized what you said: I'm not important. Nobody really cares that I just scratched my nose (for example).

Now that I'm in my 30s, I've kinda moved to the opposite extreme where I don't care what people think ("If they don't like my clothes, they can close their eyes.").

Re:Paranoia (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748117)

Being paranoid doesn't necessarily mean they aren't really out to get you.

You are right Applekid (993327)

Anonymous is Legion
We Are Always Watching

Re:Paranoia (4, Interesting)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748125)

My second ex-wife, (the one the MDs said was Paranoid-Schizophrenic) did actually have some nut-job (who had supervisor access @ the phone company) stalking and spying on her for a while. One of the many semi-surreal things I've seen.

Politics (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748057)

It's not a delusion if other people also believe it?

That's not a definition of delusion. It's a political step to avoid annoying religious people. They are no less deluded for it.

Oh, now a politically-motivated definition doesn't stand up to analysis? Big surprise.

Re:Politics (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748257)

It's not a delusion if other people also believe it?

No, it's not. How do you define normal? How do you define abnormal? Generally speaking if 75% of your society believes something, you are abnormal if you do not. In the last few decades we are slowly moving toward believing that the wide range of human conditions are all normal, but different from one another. Normal is getting a make-over, so to speak. Delusion:

2 a: something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated b: a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary ; also : the abnormal state marked by such beliefs
(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/delusion [merriam-webster.com] ) emphasis is mine

It's only delusional when 'normal' people do not believe what you do, or there is "indisputable evidence to the contrary" which clearly makes you wrong. In the world of mankind, any religion with enough believers becomes that "indisputable evidence to the contrary" if you do not believe as they do.

Point: At one time, those who thought the world was not flat were considered delusional. Those who thought left handed people were 'ok' were thought delusional. When the majority or 'normal' people say you are delusional, then that's the verdict.... unless you can prove them indisputably wrong. With religion you cannot prove them wrong, so they remain 'normal' despite complete lack of evidence to show they are right.

In this case, popularity wins. The definition you reference is not politically motivated to not anger the religious. That is simply how it works.

Re:Politics (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748665)

It's only delusional when 'normal' people do not believe what you do, or there is "indisputable evidence to the contrary" which clearly makes you wrong.

You are standing still, and I am travelling past you at 200,000 km/s. I fire a gun forwards and watch the bullet move away from me at 200,000 km/s. From your point of view, how fast is the bullet moving?

If your answer is 400,000 km/s, are you delusional? Because there is indisputable evidence to the contrary. That's faster than light. No, of course not: you're not deluded, only ignorant.

Re:Politics (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748669)

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away.

Re:Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748769)

Then by the definition you site I am not deluded about the invisible dragon in my garage? It seems you can get medical help for the small problems, its the gigantic ones that often go unnoticed.

Re:Politics (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748801)

Well, if you divide all the big religions up into their respective subcategories (Sunni vs Shia, Catholic vs Methodist, etc), you'd probably find that Atheism is by far the largest cogent belief system.

Of course, it's still just a plurality, far from a majority, but you can't say that we are outnumbered by those who believe in God, because none of them can actually agree on what they believe. They all think that everyone else but their little group is wrong (for the most part, those who don't aren't particularly consistent in their beliefs though).

Re:Politics (3, Insightful)

xant (99438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748275)

The definition exists because people who are religious are not generally mentally ill. Just deluded. So what we really need to change is the definition of particular mental illnesses that depend on delusions. For example, instead of saying "transubstantiation is not a delusion", we should say "Schizophrenia is characterized by delusions, other than the delusions of religious faith."

The Obama seizing 401K myth. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748387)

It's not a delusion if other people also believe it?

That's not a definition of delusion. It's a political step to avoid annoying religious people. They are no less deluded for it.

Oh, now a politically-motivated definition doesn't stand up to analysis? Big surprise.

Does not surprise me. It goes the same with politics.

There's a bunch of bloggers and talk radio hosts talking about this. When I try to find something concrete, I cannot. But, a bunch of folks who listen and read that shit actually believe it and my company is getting hundreds of inquiries about this mythical seizing of retirement funds.

Apparently, some academic suggested it as a possible solution, but a bunch of folks who make a lot of money off of scaring people propagated it as truth. The most sickening thing for me is that most of the public does not try to verify it.

I have come to be completely mistrustful of all electronic, actually, ALL media now. If it cannot be verified by at least three separate sources (a website, newspaper, and radio show all repeating the same AP story does not count!), I will not believe it.

P.S. It is not just the Right either. This whole Obamamania is an example of the Left doing their job of supporting myth.

Re:Politics (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748491)

It's not a delusion if other people also believe it?

It's not a Pathological delusion if other people believe it. The alternative is to institutionalize those crazys who think the earth is whirling around the sun.

We certainly don't want unpopular political ideas to be redefined as pathology to be treated in an institution for example.

It's a bit hard to define a hard and fast cutoff between a mostly harmless cultural myth and a life damaging delusion, particularly when the belief may not be susceptible to objective proof or disproof.

If this bothers you too much, perhaps you can build an inside out insane asylum like Wonko the Sane.

Re:Politics (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748539)

I wish I had a mod point for you, that's the most blatantly obvious self-evident truth I can think of, yet an entire scientific discipline just ignores the issue and allows it to perpetuate.

Re:Politics (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748633)

No, it's necessary for the scientific worldview as well. If only I (believe that I) have observed a phenomenon, it's strictly subjective. If others report that they have observed it too it starts to merit a claim of objectivity. If the right people start to claim it then science start to treat it as objective. When examined closely, objectivity (in the sense of "objective" data, not in the sense of the existence of an "objective" reality, which is another can of worms) is actually a social construct.

Re:Politics (1)

fish_in_the_c (577259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748635)

Actually it is the athiest who are deluded. They do not believe in God. Who of coarse does exist ;)
To not acknowledge the existance of what is real is as much a delusion as the assumption of the existance of soemthing that is.

This is how it was explained to me once.
Sanity is easy to define. We all know what it means. It is living in reality.
For instance if a man says " i can stand in front of a moving train and it will pass through me and not kill me"
and then goes and stands in front of a moving train which passes through him but does not kill him we say he is perhaps odd, or has an unusal ability, but he is most certianly sane.

On the other hand if he stands in front of the train and is splattered into a pancake then he was obviously insane.

The problem comes form a scientific presepctive when a matter of fact is not objectivly verifiable.
Pshychology can tell you either the athiest or the diest in insane, but can't tell you which one until there is object proof that god either exists or does not exists.

i'm insane? (4, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748059)

If I hear people snickering behind me, my first instinct IS to assume they are laughing at me. My rational mind then takes over and reminds me this is unlikely; but, still, I assumed this response is either normal for humans or trained as a result of our "kick me" sticky-note pranks as kids. I never realized it meant I was nuts.

Re:i'm insane? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748161)

[snicker]

Re:i'm insane? (0, Flamebait)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748179)

If I hear people snickering behind me, my first instinct IS to assume they are laughing at me. My rational mind then takes over and reminds me this is unlikely; but, still, I assumed this response is either normal for humans or trained as a result of our "kick me" sticky-note pranks as kids. I never realized it meant I was nuts.

If it's any consolation, we really were laughing at you.

Re:i'm insane? (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748235)

Except that - as a nerd - you grew up in a culture (presumably public school) where 80% of the time, the snickering _was_ about you. You're just exhibiting an old learned response, kind of like a veteran might duck when he hears a car backfire.

Re:i'm insane? ..addendum (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748381)

replying to self as an addendum:
I do the same thing as GP; but I know someone who really is paranoid/delusional, and when she hears any laughter or whispers, she gets angry and confrontational (to the bewilderment of people who don't know her; then they _do_ start talking about her).

Re:i'm insane? (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748261)

Understanding that you are mentally ill is the first step on the path to making yourself well.

Re:i'm insane? (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748357)

It's a mental shortcut. Not too long ago (in evolutionary terms of time) we lived in a hostile environment, where assuming everything that happened was potentially a danger and then later (after a few seconds) realizing it isn't and you can calm down again, is a much better survival strategy then thinking first and deciding that it really is a danger after careful thought, which would cost precious seconds.

Re:i'm insane? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748657)

Nah.

I actually had the same thought, to be honest, but that's more of a self esteem issue than a psychosis issue.

Either that or I'm turning slashdot into one of the sites mentioned in the article, validating yours (and my) craziness. Besides, how many crazy people know they're crazy?

Attention slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748085)

The snickering isn't a delusion, people are laughing at you!

News? (1)

ndberry (1369409) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748103)

Yea the internet lets crazy people meet other crazy people anyone who has spent anytime on slashdot knows that.

Re:News? (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748205)

from experience.

Not a delusion? (5, Funny)

VirginMary (123020) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748123)

"if a belief is held by a person's "culture or subculture,it is not a delusion. The exception accounts for rituals of religious faith, for example.'"

Reminds me of my favourite quote:
"When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion."
      -- Robert M. Pirsig, author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Re:Not a delusion? (3, Funny)

Danathar (267989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748759)

There is another one that's well known.

crazy + Poor = delusional

Crasy + rich = Eccentric

Re:Not a delusion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748847)

Reminds me of my favourite quote:
"When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion."
-- Robert M. Pirsig, author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Amen to that.

CowboyNeal is stalking me (4, Funny)

christurkel (520220) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748129)

Why do you think he's never updated his web page? Because he's too busy stalking me.

Article isn't very insightful or correct (4, Informative)

DocJohn (81319) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748143)

The article is incorrect in one person quoted therein that a delusion is not a delusion if it's commonly held by its culture or subculture. That's not what the definition of delusion says in the manual. It says that one's culture should be taken into account when making the diagnosis, that's all.

And you're in a logical circular loop if you start saying that a person's disorder is a legitimate "subculture." It is indeed a group, but an entire culture or subculture? I don't think so.

Read more observations about the article here:

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/11/13/shedding-light-on-a-dark-side-of-online-community/ [psychcentral.com]

Re:Article isn't very insightful or correct (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748537)

Man, the first logical and really insightful comment was like the 15th one down... slashdot is dying from all the reddit fuckers leaving and coming over here.

But What Does That Mean? (5, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748675)

It says that one's culture should be taken into account when making the diagnosis, that's all.

Well, sure, but what does that mean?

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig talks about a man institutionalized in the United States because he insisted that his ailment was caused by a woman "witching" him. It was eventually discovered that he grew up in an isolated community in Italy (I think--haven't got the book right here) where such belief was quite common. The man wasn't crazy; he was part of a particular culture. Did he have a delusion? Well, if by "delusion" you mean he believed something untrue, then yes, he probably did. But if you mean "delusion" as a term of psychological art... then no. He believed something he was taught to believe by his culture. He wasn't broken in any medical sense. There was nothing to "treat," unless you want to advocate "deprogramming"...

The reason you have to take one's culture into account in making a diagnosis is because "mental illness" is very difficult to pin down from a physical or chemical perspective. We're getting better at it, slowly, but the medicalization of psychology still lags behind such simple treatments as talking therapy for all but the most extreme disorders. So drawing the line between "subcultures with weird beliefs" and "weird beliefs forming a subculture" is very difficult.

Assuming all Christians, for example, suffer from a particular delusion (say, "a man rose from the grave"), do they organize because they share a delusion, or do they share a delusion because they organized themselves together to spread that delusion? It's a chicken/egg problem.

So your dismissal of the interpretation that "a delusion is not a delusion if it's commonly held by its culture or subculture" is premature. It is certainly circular, as you suggest, but while this is a weakness in modern psychology, it is nonetheless normatively true.

Re:Article isn't very insightful or correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748763)

So back when all of Europe thought the world was flat, was it or was it not delusion suffered by the masses? And today, if one or even many persons still believe the world is flat are they delusional or just stupid?

Whats wrong with these people? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748163)

If people are leaving garbage in your yard, honking and yelling at your house, following you, tailgating you, etc, etc... did you ever think that maybe it's because you're an asshole?

And that's the main problem with assholes, they don't even realize that they're assholes. They think people are out to get them all the time for no reason.

If people are out to get you, maybe there IS a reason.

People love delusions... (4, Interesting)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748167)

They are so much easier to deal with than real-life problems. The delusional one sets the context, and whoever controls the context has the control. And delusional people don't give up their delusions easily. As the old song said, "no wise man has the power, to reason away, what a fool believes"

And the internet lets them set up a community of people to support their delusions so their delusion gets reinforcement

Re:People love delusions... (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748419)

Yeah, and they can keep them until they realize it has a maladaptive effect on their lives and makes them miserable for it. Do you know how many vegetarians get admitted to the hospital each year because they don't take in enough protein and eventually become malnourished? More than a few. Mild delusions that don't have a significant effect on a person can continue for some time, but the really big ones... No. They hit a brick wall and they fall apart -- whatever you believe, reality will still be there when you open your eyes again.

Re:People love delusions... (1)

xappax (876447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748761)

Do you know how many vegetarians get admitted to the hospital each year because they don't take in enough protein and eventually become malnourished? More than a few.

o rly? Got any citations for that? Seriously. I mean, I am calling BS, but I'd also genuinely be interested in your sources if there are any.

That's just a poor definition (2, Insightful)

xilmaril (573709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748173)

The 'parodox' goes away if you are willing to call rituals and religions delusions, which is pretty easy for anyone to do when you consider that at most one of the major religions in the world could possibly be true, since they contradict each other so well. The only thing that properly defines a delusion is that it is an incorrect belief.

Re:That's just a poor definition (0, Flamebait)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748263)

The only thing that properly defines a delusion is that it is an incorrect belief.

Which requires you to define "incorrect". Now I'm all with you on the religion crap, in fact I think everyone who is deeply religious qualifies as insane. But it is a bit hard to define, because you can not go the way of falsification (religions are very good and making sure you can not "disprove" them) and you can not go the way of verification (because almost nothing in science is verified, if you apply the standard strictly).

Internetism (2, Interesting)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748191)

This really seems like just regular delusion, except now there's the internet. Doesn't make it a whole new ballgame. Delusional people are always finding ways of validating their delusions, that it happens on a message board instead of some guy on the subway, or one of those pseudoscience magazines doesn't make it a special new thing. Sounds a lot like someone trying to sell a book or at least make up a new disease that they're an expert in.

Hey, I've got a new disease I'm an expert in: people who think aliens are probing them and who regularly visit the facebook group "Aliens are probing me." It's nearly impossible to cure, because there's a facebook group that supports it. Buy my book and find out how you can treat people with it and prevent yourself from getting this terrible affliction.

Re:Internetism (1)

fish_in_the_c (577259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748559)

well, it is natrual for all human being to seek to validate the assumptions they make about the world.
Especially when those assumptions are ambigious. The real question becomes wheather or not the problem is in the data 'belief' or the 'hardware' brain. pshychology assumes that you should not fix the 'data'.

Gang Stalking Vlog (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748207)

The woman with this youtube account is a schizophrenic who thinks she is being gang stalked by some secret organization or the government. She chronicles her misadventures through her 255 vlog entries. http://www.youtube.com/user/ChinyereDOTcom [youtube.com]

We are watching you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748215)

Hey you, yes you!
So now you are reading an article on Internet about us?
Well, just to let you know, we are watching you!

Jung Figures into This (2, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748241)

This kind of thing is much more common than the story suggests. Much like other myths, people connect to and share some illusion or story. Much of which is culturally driven. So there are *shared* stories about black helicopters, red and white cars, virgin births, etc. Another related tidbit, the more repressive a culture, the more things like speaking in tongues is present.

It's also important to note that one person's "mental illness" is another persons "religious belief" or more generically, faith-based construct of their Self. You could easily flip the story around and put some common religious beliefs in there.

These are great ways to explore conciousness. (sp??)

Something we can relate to.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748255)

.. here on /. - Mac Fan Bois. Shiny silver, white, blue and black thingies follow them, their reasoning is battered, they are subjected to snickering by other mac fanbois around them for not having the latest shiny thing. All happens on the order of sjobs. Only the reality distortion field is real. Everything else is delusion.

MK-ULTRA, Arthichoke, etc...? (0)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748273)

I guess Project MK-ULTRA [wikipedia.org] didn't exist. Almost all of the MK-ULTRA documents were destroyed well before congressional inquiry into them happened. It was more of an umbrella project for lots of great projects, such as Artichoke, where they'd torture people to death.

Does that make the History Channel crazy for admitting that the CIA is responsible for the Counter-Culture Revolution of the 1960's thanks to it giving out LSD and the formula for making it?

It is pretty easy to find a lot of crazy people on the internet claiming things. However, that doesn't mean that the government isn't doing mind control experiments. What are we going to find out when the next Church Committee type investigation happens?

Remember that it is admitted that the Army has spent millions of dollars on ESP and "remote viewing" research.

Re:MK-ULTRA, Arthichoke, etc...? (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748575)

Remember that it is admitted that the Army has spent millions of dollars on ESP and "remote viewing" research.

Let a researcher cost $50,000pa. For 'millions of dollars', meaning at least two million, you're looking at 40 man-years. Or a team of 10 for four years. Or sponsorships for a couple of dozen grad students.

I think this sort of thing is to be encouraged. These are people who would otherwise be inventing new and interesting ways to kill. If instead they're sitting in darkened rooms staring at the backs of cards and saying 'Er... triangle?' then isn't that a considerable improvement?

I guess.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748297)

I can sell my tin foil hat then [encyclopedia.com]

Are you really THAT important? (2, Interesting)

Silentknyght (1042778) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748303)

I have a somewhat crude hypothetical question when considering these types of scenarios: "Are you really THAT important?"

Are you really important enough such that the government--or less likely, a cadre of independent people--would devote their lives to harassing every tiny bit of your life, with such things as periodically taking down the websites you visit? If you've invented something fabulous, then maybe just maybe... but if you're a janitor--I hate to be rude but--no one's going to waste their life with that.

It's important to distinguish between "time" and "life." Being harassed by someone you know, or even someone you don't, for their enjoyment for a few days or a couple weeks... that happens. But if you believe that someone's going to do this for years... yeah, you're not that important.

Re:Are you really THAT important? (3, Funny)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748607)

I've found this to be a useful technique. I wish it worked for my partner, however. Guys, here's a hint: DO NOT tell your partner that s/he is not important or interesting enough to have random people on the street following them around or whispering about them. It will not have the desired result, unless the desired result is being whacked with a broom.

Re:Are you really THAT important? (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748687)

Less important people are *more* likely to be genuinely harassed in this way, as people are much less likely to believe them. Research MK-ULTRA. I see no reason to believe that governments no longer do such things.

Okay doctor, how about this... (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748311)

How about this; I'm pagan. Several of my friends are wiccan or american indian (one is both). We bless our houses, some of us see spirits, or hear things, or get feelings about a place, or sense a presence. By your definition, these things are delusions because they're part of our culture. But to most other people, their subjective realities don't include them and so (quite naturally) they think we're nuts. Which brings me to my ultimate point -- the mental health community in general has defined these kinds of things as a disorder if they cause significant impairment in a person's daily life.

So, this is part of my culture, but by the same token it's quite readily apparent that it causes a negative impact on my ability to deal with the rest of the world, who don't share my beliefs. It doesn't pass a clinical threshold in these cases, but assume they did. Would it change anything? Since just about anything can be defined as "cultural"-- afterall, schizophrenics have a cultural identity too (I'd like to know about the whole pennies thing myself)-- how can you (or anyone in the medical community) abandon the more objective metric of significant impairment for "cultural values"? Does this mean we're throwing out gender identity disorder too, because that's cultural? How about depression -- all those goths, they're not depressed anymore, they're just down with their culture. And people who drink the koolaid -- there was nothing wrong with them, they were just trying to fit in.

If you ask me, it seems like a cop-out by an establishment that's not sure enough of its foundations to take the initiative and say that some behaviors, even when culturally acceptable, lead to bad results. Because that would be a moral judgement, is that the argument? Just like pharmacists that refuse to dispense birth control and insurance companies that refuse to pay for gender reassignment surgery, etc. Here's a suggestion -- how about the medical community stop trying to pass moral judgements through the back door like this. Your job is to help people, not figure out their culture. Their culture is totally irrelevant -- what IS relevant is if they're in pain, if their life is significantly impacted, and there is a medical treatment or cure available that could help them. THAT is where the focus needs to be, and culture only plays a role insofar as how to reach out to the patient and contextualize what's happening. disclaimer: not a doctor.

[correction] (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748625)

1st para; They aren't delusions because they're part of our culture.

psychotronic mind control (2, Interesting)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748319)

I believe that mind control devices are real and are being used by American intelligence and law enforcement.

How do I know? The Village Voice quoted an FBI official during the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco in 1994 as saying that they were planning to use a device on Koresh that would make him think he was talking to God.

I've always found the Village Voice to be pretty responsible... I think the official let this slip, and we haven't heard about it since because we weren't supposed to have ever heard about it at all.

Re:psychotronic mind control (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748617)

Could be something like this:

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/05/army-removes-pa.html [wired.com]

http://www.rense.com/general37/skull.htm [rense.com]

http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/dod/vts.html [fas.org]

"One application of V2K is use as an electronic scarecrow to frighten birds in the vicinity of airports."

Scarecrow for birds? They really had to stretch to come up with something more innocuous eh? ;).

All about politics (3, Interesting)

fish_in_the_c (577259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748333)

The real problem is psychology is not very scientific.
They is no real definition of sane or insane. Nor a testable definition of order or disorder ( for that matter).
The whole science is wish washy and based on subjective judgment as opposed to a first order science that basis it's classification scheme on measurable objective facts.

For instance, why is it homosexuals were ever classified as a having a disorder? Why is it that they are now classified as not having a disorder. How come no other sexual inclination a person might have , bestiality for instance, has not changed status from being a disorder?

The reason is simple. Weather or not something is considered a disorder or not is basically voted on ( majority opinion is so scientific after all).

There is no real definition of a disorder and there is no way of performing concrete test or deterring from data if a given set of symptoms constitute a disorder.

This is not to say there aren't consolers out there that help people and I'm am limiting myself comments to psychology formal here not to include psychiatry ( medical ) or neuropsychology.

But the broader psychological community regular engages in what is little more the pseudo-science.

Re:All about politics (3, Informative)

raddan (519638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748565)

But the broader psychological community regular engages in what is little more the pseudo-science.

So how many psychology classes have you taken? Yeah, I thought so.

There's a huge difference between an emerging scientific field—where the subject matter is extremely complicated—and pseudoscience. You don't give physicists a bad rap because they once believed in aether, do you?

There are many people out there doing scientific studies of human behavior. They're working against thousands of years of assumptions, some right, some wrong. It's going to take some time.

Re:All about politics (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748719)

The physicists have progressed beyond that. By your own admission, psychologists haven't.

I repeat: Psychologists haven't figured it out yet. They are just guessing. Best-guesses, but still guesses.

Re:All about politics (3, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748893)

The physicists have progressed beyond that. By your own admission, psychologists haven't.

What? I never said that.

Seriously, what's the difference between scientific opinion and best-guessing? This is literally how the scientific process works:

  1. Guess
  2. Check
  3. Repeat

Let's not overlook the fact that "wrong" answers are still, nevertheless, extremely useful [wikipedia.org] . But, no, let's throw it all out, man, because Newton was "just guessing".

Re:All about politics (1)

fish_in_the_c (577259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748829)

Coarse , a few, and the psychology professor who taught the master level class i took agreed with my statement.
he told me psychology is more of a 'humanities' then a science. Some psychologist ( of the Jungian branch) don't even believe in objective evidence and therefore reject the scientific method.

"There's a huge difference between an emerging scientific field--where the subject matter is extremely complicated--and pseudoscience. You don't give physicists a bad rap because they once believed in aether, do you? "

I would if they were testifying in court that murders couldn't help there actions because of the the alignment of the stars or that homosexuals aren't doing anything wrong because they were born with the balance of humors that is responsible for thier inclination and actions and then attempted to see that assumption codified into civil law.

Everyday many 'experts' from the field of psychology ignore the complexity of the problem, overstate their data and assert that various moral or social constructs should change without having sufficient data to prove there case. That is pseudo-science.

Re:All about politics (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748627)

They is no real definition of sane or insane.

I was always taught that sane and insane is a legal definition, not one of psychology.

I think we all have a bit of tolerance for delusions to some point but the question is when does the delusions become dangerous to either the delusional or those around him?

For example, if you really want to believe that your favorite sports team wins or loses depending on if you're watching the game or wearing a certain jersey it's not going to really hurt anyone. But if you start believing the guy in the power company truck is bugging your house while he's working on the phone pole outside your home and you decide to take the matter into your own hands... well, we have a sticky situation on our hands, don't we?

We have a local in my town his is highly delusional. So far he hasn't attacked anyone or run out into traffic to chase any cars down. He normally yells at passers by or drums on an empty plastic bucket and sings. People are fairly tolerant of him but some do keep their distance. While he appears harmless and seems to have been for a couple decades it's probably not going to take much to put him in an institution of some sort. I'm sure his diagnosis is probably the same today as it was 15-20 years ago. It's just a question of how he acts them out.

The One Guy Whos Experience was Real (1)

Selfunfocused (1215732) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748339)

Sadly, at least one guy was probably fooled by the Paranormal State ad campaign [boingboing.net] . Now he's chatting daily with people who wear Hot Topic tees with the same fervor that Christian teens used to have for WWJD bracelets and wondering if these people understand the way the world really works.

interesting concept (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748351)

while the internet gets raves for creating communities out of tiny exotic subcultures that without the internet would have no place to meet or find commonalities, it is interesting that it also unites psychologically damaged people with common ailments

ailments that without the internet would serve to socially isolate the person, but now serve to create online communities of shared, and reinforcing, and therefore enabling psychological breaks with reality

psychological diseases like paranoia that are amplified by the internet. very interesting

Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748367)

Man, I love the smell of paranoia in the morning. It's so funny fucking with these guys. I'll turn the machine back on shortly and they'll completely forget about the mind control stuff.

Sounds like CO poisoning (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748373)

Carbon Monoxide poisoning, believe it or not, causes the same side effects that delusional people claim. Visual/Auditory hallucinations, paranoia, memory loss, and this list goes on.

First line of business is for them to buy CO detectors

"Paradox"? (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748455)

...poses a paradox to the traditional way delusion is defined under the diagnostic guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association, which says that if a belief is held by a person's "culture or subculture," it is not a delusion.

I don't see the problem. Why is it sane for people to believe in angels, but not sane for people to believe they're being followed by secret agents in red cars? People believe in a lot of silly things. That's not delusion, that just buying into a set of beliefs that don't make sense to outsiders.

The social norm definition of delusion is perfectly fine. The real problem is that the mental health community insists on treating this as a "diagnosis". This is a concept that makes no sense in describing mental conditions. The human brain is the most complicated thing in the known universe, and poorly understood. There are a few physical or chemical abnormalities that can screw up your thinking, but except for those, the idea that you can take a list of behaviors and "diagnose" an underlying condition the way an oncologist diagnoses a tumor is absurd.

Unfortunately, we seem to be stuck with this charade. People won't trust mental health professionals (who actually are useful now and then) if they don't maintain the pseudo-medical mumbo-jumbo. And of course insurance companies won't pay any bills without a "diagnosis".

Re:"Paradox"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748709)

Why is it sane for people to believe in angels, but not sane for people to believe they're being followed by secret agents in red cars?

It's _not_ sane for people to believe in angels. Not at all, given that there is no evidence whatsoever to support their existence.

It's quite sane for people to believe in the _possibility_ of angels.

You are being controller right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748525)

>> 'Type "mind control" or "gang stalking" into
>> Google, and Web sites appear that describe cases
>>of persecution,

How many people just followed those instructions?

Re:You are being controller right now (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748845)

They may as well have put 'would you kindly' in front of it.

Story is short on facts. (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748557)

The story remarkably overstates the obvious thus turning it into a kind of fear mongering exercise. I typed in mind control on Google and I got no surprises. Some historical CIA stuff, other historical stuff and a couple of sites devoted to the topic.

They aren't doing youtube-like traffic, don't have that much going on in terms of forums. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Dysfunctional Groups (4, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748581)

The internet has allowed dysfunctional individuals to create communities and reinforce their dysfunctional behavior. For instance tech savvy individuals with no life can get together and ...

Really? (1)

ndberry (1369409) | more than 5 years ago | (#25748799)

I read the article and thought it was pretty interesting and credible....then I saw that it was under the fashion and style section....so I looked up what other articles this write has done. Wow such probing and great articles as "How to Treat a âMoney Disorderâ(TM)", "Girl Talk Has Its Limits", and "The Sum of Your Facial Parts". I am by no means saying this writer is a bad journalist but what makes her qualified to write an in depth story of psychology?

Creepy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25748809)

I found the website gangstalking world as the first hit on google, so I checked out the forums there.

Most of the posts seemed to be semi legit info about avoiding crime, surveillance, home alarm systems ect, I couldn't find any good crazy rants.

Then I realized ITS ALL BY ONE GUY. He just makes posts and replies to his own posts. Yikes.

So group delusion is more like delusion of being a group.

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