I was living there while this was going on

This is a running commentary on the film below.

Apparently, this film is based on a true story. I was living there while this was going on, but I’ve only just started watching this film so I can’t say any more yet at this point. It does not look like the film was shot in St Pete. No Spanish moss, for example. And nothing that I recognise.

A few minutes later: No, the movie came out while I was living there. It all happened earlier:
https://www.tampabay.com/archive/1993/10/14/family-s-terror-comes-to-nbc/

Another stark reminder – to wake up from their silly daydreams – for people including way too many cops who are convinced that being stalked is flattering and romantic.

The problem with doing things like barring someone – in this case from the junior softball activities – and from getting protection orders is that it can make a stalker so furious that it encourages (that is, motivates) him and escalates the situation. It rarely stops serious stalking. It often stops stalkers who aren’t really stalkers.

There is no “one size fits all” approach that you can execute without professional assistance and going to the police to report stalking is a complete waste of time in many countries.

I assume that this Curtis was autistic and on the one hand overflowing with his own emotions but on the other hand unable to grasp how his actions were affecting others. Autistic people can have limited Theory of Mind (mentioned in my previous post), which makes them look like they have no empathy at all, but unlike with psychopaths – who genuinely do not care – autistic people do care.

And they are capable of learning and understanding and can be motivated to adapt some of the behaviours that may be causing severe concern for others. If only there were enough people who are capable of serving as interpreters in such a context and are willing to do that.

But I am only 20 minutes into the film at this point.

So how could you resolve a situation like this peacefully and perhaps even prevent it? By making sure that the healthcare gap between mental health versus physical health is addressed and that people like this Curt have good support that helps them understand how the rest of the world works? That’s generally speaking.

How did the stalking begin?

Because the girl who was stalked, who was 14 when it started, was the only child who did not tease the ADULT who ended up stalking her and terrorising her family. When the film came out, five years after the stalking began, the girl was still in hiding.

But later on, he does seem to become deliberately mean. That is not a sign of autism. Or is it? That’s an issue that I too have been grappling with. What exactly is autism? Could all of what I am exposed to be autism and anger in response to the world and to me not wanting this guy to go into my flat when I am out and all of that? Or is it something else and if so, what?

Almost no data on this:
https://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR842864.aspx

https://ibcces.org/blog/2017/04/26/stalking/

https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/harassment-reduce-situations-people-autism/

http://www.theneurotypical.com/an-open-letter-to-high-functioning-autism-experts.html

The problem is – for me too – that none us know how to deal with stalking behaviours and often are being made to feel that we need to be nice to the person in order to get him to behave appropriately and stop him from getting angry and do damage. But that often encourages the person. Telling him “no”, however, doesn’t work either and can make him very angry.

(I didn’t even know the guy who started stalking me. I thought someone else was doing this, which was someone I couldn’t really claim to know either.)

Watch the bit between about 31:00 and 36:00 in the film and you have all the agony and disruption and dilemmas and frustration associated with being stalked.

It starts with the friend who makes fun of the girl, knowing fully well that this girl just threw up that afternoon after her stalker turned out to be sitting a few rows behind her at a sports game, to the young family members making fun of the situation, the disruption by the stalker the following morning and the resulting frustration and anger, the anger that comes back from the stalker, and then the legal situation and the utter lack of understanding on the side of the stalker and the dilemma the parents face between wanting to ignore the guy and pretend he does not exist and also not wanting to make him angry. (The only bit that is missing in this fragment is the role that cops play.)

The “I hear! I hear!” response in that bit of film makes me suspect autism again. His response seems literal. Just like his “You can’t do that! The law does not allow that!” about Linda threatening to spray-paint his car purple and orange is a bit unusual.

I looked after someone with Alzheimer’s, a Canadian woman who got stranded in St Pete, for a few days in 1995 and that taught me a lot.

One thing I do know is that I do not have the patience to deal with autistic people around the clock, in the fringes. Because it’s a full-time job.

I have never had any relatives, colleagues, acquaintances etc who are autistic, to my knowledge, but the impression I get is that they’d likely quickly drive me nuts. I can’t be the only one who feels that way in spite of having enough compassion.

(The family portrayed in the film has said that the film is pretty accurate. Only the daughter’s bleeding lip at some point was different and one other bit, apparently.)

Btw, this stalker character in the film has the same weird situationally inappropriate smile as my hacker.

Yeah, this dude is as “nuts” as my stalker. Whether he is autistic or not, I don’t know. But the driving in circles in front of the Anellos’ home – at 45:00 – is exactly the kind of thing that my stalker does too and I don’t know if this is autistic behaviour. It comes across as taunting. Is it “lack of impulse control”? Yeah, maybe that too is related to autism. The frustration with being told “no”, the fact that he just does not get it, it causes a tremendous amount of conflict in him. it is “I want!” and everything and everyone else is of no importance relative to what he wants.

According to the stalker’s mother, he had “emotional problems and a severe learning disability”.

So how do you get someone to move on without being able either to “take yourself out of the equation” as one stalking target put it – and yes, she meant suicide – or relocating as far away as possible and start living under a fake name?

How do you get someone – a complete or relative stranger – to give you your life back? Once stalking’s already progressed big time, taking yourself out of the equation is often the only way left to put a stop to it. Being stalked.

That is just not good enough.

We – as society – can do better, surely.

Am at 58 minutes into the film now. So are stalkers like this one likely to be autistic? If he is indeed a so-called predatory stalker – one of the comments mentions that phrase – then no. But those people are more likely to be fooling the people around them, as follows.

From: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-human-equation/201212/the-predatory-stalker

Okay, at the end of the film I conclude that this Bruce Andrew Raines was is autistic (and so was his mother, apparently, as they’ve both been described as “weird”; he learned his social skills from his mother to a large degree, of course). There was no intent to hurt the girl. Ever. Not even in the film. Just him not getting – understanding – a lot of stuff and getting very frustrated over it.

In those days, nobody ever talked about autism. I am not sure that the word even existed back then. In Florida, you could have people locked up for, well, disagreeing with you. There was a mental health act – the Baker Act – that was often abused. Mom does not want to include you in the inheritance? Just convince the court that she’s crazy. Dad wants to go on a holiday and also do things like learn how to paint instead of stay put in his old folks’ home and play shuffleboard all day? Can’t have that either. Journalists raised attention for the problem and the law was subsequently amended. In 1996, I think that was.

And my hacker is very likely autistic too. His logic is weird and he does not get things the way others do. It is why he thinks that my siblings are bad people – and various other people – and does not want me to be in contact with any of them.

So how do you handle such a situation in real life? When it begins. By sitting down with him, quietly, in a quiet room, not in a hostile atmosphere, with an intermediary and quietly and patiently explaining the WHY to him and finding a different focus for him. Also explaining to the parents and to the girl and to others what is going on.

And not focusing on only such negative aspects of autism but also pointing out the positives of autism.

Watching this film was not always easy for me. I feel that that person leaving notes everywhere is me too these days, because it is often the only way to communicate with English people with their bizarre host of aversions, assumptions and insecurities (not to mention their tendencies for unbridled aggression and whatnot). I find dealing with English people often very exhausting. Frustrating. Complicated. All that convoluted Victorian stuff. All those rules and their upset when you don’t follow their rules. All that avoidance of eye contact. All that shyness. Alternatively, all that crazy bluster to hide their social insecurities. I may have to do some thinking about that… (such as about how I can approach this in a more effective manner).

 

 

Theory of Mind and empathy OR “why the English often behave in crazy ways” (with a gift at the end of the post)

Years ago, when I was discussing some of my experiences in England with a woman who happens to have a Master’s in cultural psychology, she wrote back that it sounded as if English people lacked Theory of Mind. I looked into it because I had never heard of it.

It certainly seems to hold true for a large part of the population of Portsmouth that they do not possess Theory of Mind or only limited Theory of Mind. People here seem completely oblivious to what goes on in other people’s minds and often seem to have no idea of the effects of what they do on others.

Though often they are only too aware of those effects, for example when trolls pester the family of a missing person or when people deliberately make appointments to collect something through Freecycle and then don’t show up. The latter happens so often here that there is a name for these people – “time wasters” – and the practice is often mentioned as not appreciated in “offered” posts that local people make. It is a local thing, yes.

One reason why these “time wasters” do this is when something that has been offered is a word that has a meaning in urban or English slang, often with a sexual connotation. It took me years to figure that out. They also some sometimes flood you with expressions of interest and then don’t respond when you reply, apparently for the same reason.

Many here have no respect for other people’s – random strangers’ – boundaries, even to the extent that they easily violate criminal law so blatantly that they’d be tucked away in prison for quite a while if anyone ever decided to investigate the matter and prosecute it.

I don’t believe that it is typical for Portsmouth, but it does seem to be more prominent in Portsmouth. English people as a rule seem to have very little Theory of Mind. I think it has to do with the stiff upper lip phenomenon, the admiration and misinterpretation of the stoics that turned into the glorification of callousness and cruelty.

It stunted people in England psychologically. They are often so completely out of touch with (hence also not in control of) their own emotions that they are not able to recognise emotions in others and are blind to the effects of some of the things that they do have on others.

This also plays a role in the violence that erupts in England as soon as alcohol comes into the mix. The brakes go off and all the bottled-up emotions come pouring out. It is why a man may bite off another man’s ear in a pub and then go to prison for four years. It is why domestic violence soars in England over Christmas and during football championships. It is why the UK has much more domestic violence and violence against women and girls than the EU.

Another reason is that English people are so extremely reluctant to interact with strangers that there is no reality check on the assumptions that they make about others. An example? “Women looking miserable = pining for a man (whether a specific man or not).” Women can look miserable for all sorts of very different reasons. Another example? “Woman looks happy so she had sex with a man last night.” There are many other reasons – including no reason at all beyond deciding to be happy – why a woman can look happy. (The problem is that people often ACT on these assumptions and also share these assumptions as the  truth in the pub on Friday in village-like England, meaning that these assumptions can affect all your interactions with others where you live.)

One more… “Man looks happy so he has something that I do not have so he probably took something from me.” Seriously?

Below is a video about a small boy learning something the hard way. He has the sudden insight that the girl who hides behind her painting does not want to say whose painting she likes best because she senses that the little boy feels very vulnerable and would like her to say that she likes his painting best and at the same time, does not consider his painting the best and knows that saying that out loud would make the boy feel hurt. She has tons of empathy. She is an empathy superstar.

(Also, here’s what lots of women all over the world do, folks. We erase ourselves so as not to upset men.)

There are two flavours of empathy: cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. Almost everyone possesses cognitive empathy. Not everyone is capable of emotional empathy. (People with NPD may not often be capable of emotional empathy; this is reflected in their brain structure.)

My bet is that many English people would assume that the girl who holds up the painting behind which she hides is shy because they focus too much on exterior factors. Appearances. That the child actually has a brain and has thoughts and draws conclusions about others, that seems to be hard to fathom for a lot of English people. I run into this all the time. A similar one is “looks a bit shabby = has no taste or fashion sense” or “does not go out = does not want to go out” when the real reason is deep poverty.

One of the reasons why I consider Portsmouth so toxic is because strangers here push themselves into your life – without ever having a conversation with you – in a way that forces you to almost obsess over them and deal with the effects of their stupid game-playing – which costs a lot of time – rather than just be allowed to live your life or – hey, what a thought – work. You find that you increasingly have to find ways of escape to kick your brain out of local victim mode, for example by watching YouTube videos of inspiring fun Americans, people who are proactive and who cooperate with others (instead of what local people often do, which is their best to make the lives of others as difficult as possible). It’s exhausting.

And they are too quick to conclude that you are being dumb and stupid when they don’t realise that you’ve gone into “last rites” mode because they keep stealing your tomorrow from you so you have no more reason to keep tomorrow in mind in anything that you do.

Too many people here believe that pushing others into deep poverty and keeping them there is a really cool thing to do, but that is often because they genuinely have no clue what they’re doing.

To end this on a positive note, I have a great tip for anyone dealing with a lot of stress. Google “binaural beats”. I stumbled upon this technology in the US in the mid-1990s. Sadly, I recently discovered that I had forgotten that I have these files, below, but I am going to create a daily habit of using them.

You play these sound files over your headset; it does not work when you play them on speakers. They kick your brain into a different state. I, for example, use an old phone as MP3 player and I put one of those files on repeat and my headphones on my head.

This is effortless. You do not have to do anything! You can lie down on your bed or sit in a lazy chair and may find yourself drift off into deep meditation, but they also already have an effect when you are going about your life doing things in your house or office.

The designations “delta”, “theta” etc refer to brainwave frequencies that show up on EEGs. They may not work for everyone – and, do NOT use them while driving a car or are operating any other kind of machinery, not even a bicycle – but for many, they can really work wonders, effortlessly. 

You can download this one (delta range) just to help you relax: 

 

You can download this one (mid theta range) if you would like to feel inspired:

 

If you have half an hour and are able to lie down on your bed or relax in a lazy chair, you can also try this 30-minute meditation tape by Paul McKenna:

Paul McKenna used to have this on his website as a free download and maybe he still does. He also added it as a CD to one of his books from years ago.