Helen Fisher, PhD

Some Thoughts on the Neurobiology of Stalking

J Reid Meloy and H Fisher (2005)
Journal of Forensic Sciences, 50#6:1472-1480

The authors examine the crime of stalking, including the cognitive traits, emotional reactions, attachment pathology, violence patterns and sex differences of samples of stalking offenders. They focus on two common types of stalkers: 1) those who sustain pursuit of a former sexual intimate who has rejected them; and 2) those who pursue a stranger or acquaintance who has failed to return the stalker’s romantic overtures. The authors discuss data from neuroimaging (fMRI) studies of romantic love which suggest that these forms of stalking may be associated with heightened activity of subcortical dopaminergic pathways of the “Reward System” of the brain, perhaps in combination with low activity of central serotonin. The authors propose that this set of neural correlates may contribute to the stalker’s focused attention, increased energy, following behaviors, obsessive thinking about and impulsivity directed toward the victim.

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