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Health & Sex

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Mind of a Stalker: Why Torment Someone?

Stalkers are lonely and lack self-esteem, yet they feel very, very important.

The Person Least Likely ...

You would never guess all this while dating the person, says John Moore, a licensed professional counselor in Chicago and author of Confusing Love With Obsession.

"They wear a mask of charm," he tells WebMD. "They're the kindest, nicest people. You wouldn't know what's really going on. You only become aware when clues of their behavior show up -- when your email provider locks you out because you've logged your password incorrectly too many times, for example."

In many scenarios, the stalking begins as a relationship is ending -- a divorce or breakup, says Moore. One partner becomes obsessed, convinced that this is their ideal partner. The stalker may believe that the victim is in love with him or her.

"The stalker is usually an isolated and shy person, one who lives alone, lacks any type of important intimate relationship -- not just sexual, but friends or family, too," Moore tells WebMD. "There's also a narcissistic personality disorder and very low self-esteem. The stalker feels that they're the most important person in the world."

Many people stalk someone they have only met briefly -- someone they don't really know, or barely know. The stalker may also focus on a celebrity, especially if they've seen him or her in person -- at a public appearance like a concert. "They develop convoluted thoughts about this person. They feel this person is the answer to their dreams," says Moore.

Stalkers write countless letters or emails to their victims, begging for attention. They make repeated phone calls, send gifts, flowers, candies, cards. They secretly follow the victim, either by car or in an insidious way -- by getting access to the victim's email.

"We've seen this in many relationships. The stalker figures out your password and reads all your email," Moore tells WebMD. "Many people use the same password for many things -- the ATM, various email accounts, and web sites. Stalkers are often smart enough figure that out and use it to get into email. They even get into the victim's bank account, find out which ATM they use, find out up to the minute where they went to eat, when they shopped."

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