Are narcissists stalkers

Stalking - phenomenology and perpetrator personality

Stalking, a modern phenomenon, the fundamentals of which, however, reach deep into the human psyche. It is understood as the excessive, undesirable pursuit and harassment of others, which in many cases causes great emotional stress and insecurity in them.

In the context of stalking, the perpetrator focuses on a specific person, whom he pursues and monitors over a long period of time. In addition, he tries to be communicative by covering the victim with frequent e-mails and phone calls - or other attempts at communication.

However, the direction and causes of stalking are different and can be divided into two large groups.

Perpetrator seeking proximity

First, the stalker, who seeks emotional closeness and for whom the relationship with the victim is in the foreground.

Rejected admirer
On the one hand, it is a relationship that has already ended unilaterally, but the perpetrator does not want to admit this. [1] Instead, he regularly lapses into deep brooding, coupled with emotional overload [2] and now seeks all the more to be close to the one he cannot have. The psychological effect also plays a role here: the needs have been shifted due to the psychological adjustment to the current situation. This means that the perpetrator only becomes aware of the importance of the relationship again when he no longer has it. So that this state is not only temporary and he becomes a stalker, a special disposition in the personality of the stalker is still required.

The self-esteem of the offender must be such that the rejection is unacceptable to him. In the case of stalkers who seek closer access - who, in contrast to the second category, have less malignant, aggressive tendencies - this will usually be a narcissistic tendency that projects itself onto another person and needs them for their own self-education. [3] Means the stalker is attached to his previous relationship because he admires it and still wants to be part of himself.

Celebrity stalker
On the other hand, the same drive can also apply to stalkers who have no previous acquaintance with the victim. Usually it is a question of a public figure who is the object of idealization. [4] Here, too, the perpetrator wants to be part of the nimbus that surrounds the celebrity and thus strengthen his own self-worth.

A delusion - such as erotomania, the delusional conviction of being loved - can additionally drive and strengthen the perpetrator. [5]

Dominance-seeking perpetrator

However, the stalker can also appear in a more aggressive mode. In the category of the perpetrator seeking dominance, he is no longer concerned with emotional closeness to the victim, but rather wants to evoke the victim's fear that is associated with the stalking.

Rejected admirer
The outcast ex-partner also plays a role here, [6] if his personality is also narcissistic, but not characterized by foreign idealization. Instead, the perpetrator - in the most classic form of narcissism - needs outside admiration in order to secure his high self-worth. The rejection hits him hard to the extent that the feeling of superiority through control over the victim's life is a necessary compensation.

Furthermore, this form of narcissism is also regularly associated with a certain amount of anger. Nonetheless, stalking is a crime that lasts for a long time and requires a certain amount of planning skills. Accordingly, the perpetrator is not completely without impulse control, but can rather channel his strong emotions over a certain period of time and use them purposefully to destroy the victim.

It can be assumed that this type of stalking ex appears much more frequently than its more peaceful counterpart. [7]

Other stalking out of control and anger
Furthermore, the previous relationship in this category need not have been of a personal nature; any kind of rejection can create the need for compensatory control or simple anger and revenge, if the perpetrator is correspondingly vulnerable and irritable.

There are known cases in which perpetrators were influenced by a delusion - for example a paranoid one that drives the perpetrator to defend himself against an alleged opponent by means of stalking - which provoked these reactions. [8]

Sadism / hunting-like "predatory" stalker
Finally, there are stalkers who have no previous relationship with their victim, but rather choose them based on availability and compatibility with a simple type of victim. For example the sadistic stalker. Sadism is classified as a disorder of sexual preference, which is characterized by the gain in pleasure through the infliction of pain. In stalking, long-term fear and insecurity paired with the perpetrator's dominance over the situation can possibly meet this need. [9]

Closely linked to this, stalking can also be carried out as a preliminary stage to an actual assault. [10]


In this respect, stalking presents itself either as a desire for closeness and a relationship with the victim - whereby this victim is regularly a former partner of the perpetrator or a public figure - or as a striving for control and as an expression of anger, revenge or sadism. Here, the victim may have rejected the perpetrator in advance or may come from his or her other environment and have drawn his anger to himself in any way, which aroused the need to compensate for the injured self-worth.

Outsiders can become involved either as a result of a delusion or because of their quality as easy victims for the sadistic perpetrator.

The connecting element of this type of offense, however, is almost always the self-esteem of the offender in both cases and thus represents the central anchor point for this type of offense.

With the exception of the sadistic and delusional perpetrator type, stalking is a result of a narcissistic tendency, in the course of which the person concerned has to increase his or her self-worth by idealizing or dominating a caregiver. The victim should fulfill this role.

Considering the system-environment relation as a result of the crime theories and as the central cause of crime, the psychological approaches predominate here as an explanation for risk factors. The narcissist or sadist needs to have a corresponding personality in order to become a stalker, the exact degeneration of which in turn determines the stalker type.

Conversely, with precise knowledge of the circumstances surrounding an individual case, due to the nature of these circumstances, a conclusion about the type of stalker and his personal background can be sought.

More about criminals and their personalities.


[1] Hoffman Stalking p.67ff.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Cf. on narcissism: Köhn 1992 Psychoanalysis and Crimes, see 90ff.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Hoffmann Stalker p. 67ff; on narcissism: Köhn 1992 Psychanalyse und Verbrechen p. 90ff.
[7] See Mullen et. al. 2000 Stalkers and their victims.
[8] Hoffmann Stalker p. 67ff.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Mullen et. al. 2000 Stalkers and their victims.
see also Boon / Sheridan 2011 Stalker typologies: a law enforment perspective.