Special Issue on stalking: commentary

Published date28 February 2023
Date28 February 2023
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology,Sociology,Sociology of crime & law,Deviant behaviour,Public policy & environmental management,Policing,Criminal justice
AuthorLorraine Sheridan
Special Issue on stalking: commentary
Lorraine Sheridan
Purpose The researchliterature on stalking has proliferatedin recent years. Even so, gaps remain.This
commentarypaper introduces a Special Issueon stalkers.
Design/methodology/approach This Special Issue showcases Rachael Wheatley’s mixed methods
work with male stalkers. These stalkers were actively engaged in the research process. Importantly,
Wheatley’s studiestook a phenomenological approach, exploring how thesemen construed their reality
for engagingin stalking behaviour.
Findings This Special Issue highlights many of the factors that may increase the risk that a person
becomes a stalker, including disordered attachment, depression, entitlement, emotional regulation,
stressmanagement and narcissism.
Originality/value Taken together, this collection of papers points to a need for practitioners and
researchers alike to break out of silos and take a holistic and comprehensive approach to tackling the
widespreadproblem of stalking.
Keywords Stalking, Victims, Offenders, Qualitative
Paper type Viewpoint
As pointed out in the first line of the introduction to this Special Issue, a lot is now
known about stalking. Nevertheless, many studies of stalking and stalkers and their
victims focus on similar variables.This is not to be discouraged, as revisiting similar
ground can uncover previously unobserved nuances, particularly when new populations
are examined. One of the most positive aspects of more recent work on stalking is the
exploration of the course and nature of the phenomenon in non-Western countries, many of
which do not yet have anti-stalking legislation in place. What has been lacking is in-depth
considerations of stalkers themselves. This is for a number of reasons, first and foremost,
the difficulty of obtaining access to stalkers and their agreement to participate in academic
investigations. The springboard for this Special Issue was Rachael Wheatley’s mixed
methods work with male stalkers who were actively engaged in the research process.
Wheatley’s studies took a phenomenological approach, exploring how these men construed
their reality for engaging in stalking behaviour.
It is the qualitative findings from Wheatley’s work that formed the basis for this Special
Issue. The work of other practitioner-researchers had identified various features common to
many stalkers, such as a sense of entitlement to the victim, deficits in interpersonal skills,
cognitive rigidity, a lack in insight into their offences and an indifference to the impact on
their victims (MacKenzie et al., 2009/2013;MacKenzie and James, 2011). There existed a
clear need to explore these facets via a qualitative methodology, to better understand the
interconnections between them and how they may present in a therapeutic environment.
Despite qualitative research being considered as essential to our understanding of
pathways to change, qualitativestudies are rare within forensic psychology, and even when
they are conducted, are frequently excluded from reviews in favour of the gold standard of
randomised control trials (Maruna, 2015). Back in 2008, Banister reviewed the contribution
of qualitative studies to forensic psychology, for example, informing the development of
Lorraine Sheridan is based
at the School of
Psychology, Curtin
University Perth City
Campus, Perth, Australia.
Received 9 July 2021
Revised 12 July 2022
Accepted 12 July 2022
PAGE 72 jJOURNAL OF CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY jVOL. 13 NO. 2 2023, pp. 72-75, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829 DOI 10.1108/JCP-07-2021-0029

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