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As such, he often attracts unwanted attention. Some of the people who are attracted to the President have serious problems. At any one time, there may be a number of individuals who are stalking the…
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Assessing Presidential Stalkers and Assassins
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The President of the United s is the most famous person in the world. As such, he often attracts unwanted attention. Some of the people who are attracted to the President have serious problems. At any one time, there may be a number of individuals who are stalking the President. Because any threat must be taken seriously, it is important for the Secret Service—which protects government officials—to understand the various profiles of such stalkers. This article—“Assessing Presidential Stalkers and Assassins”—is an extremely useful way of classifying such stalkers and beginning to understand just what makes these stalkers tick. Prof. Philips, the author, has clearly spent a great deal of time considering this matter and has consulted with the Secret Service on this issue before.
Near the beginning of his article, Prof. Phillips explains just why he feels it is important to create profiles of presidential stalkers and why he is motivated to do so:
I have found this classification to be of great assistance in my clinical assessment of risk when consulting for the Secret Service and in considering treatment options, case management, and prevention strategies when providing opinions to the United States Attorney, the Federal Public Defender, or private counsel. I believe this method may also be useful for forensic clinicians when developing a therapeutic plan for the treatment of such persons in their care.
In other words, he is not engaging in this exercise in a purely academic fashion. There are real world implications to his research: both helping the Secret Service protect the President, and helping practitioners treat those who would do harm to the Commander-in-Chief.
The following motivations have been identified by the Secret Service and are discussed by Prof. Phillips: To achieve notoriety or fame; to bring attention to a personal or public problem; to avenge a perceived wrong; to retaliate for a perceived injury; to end personal pain; to be removed from society; to be killed; to save the country or the world; to fix a world
problem; to develop a special relationship with the target; to make money; to bring about political change (156). Understanding these motivations leads the good professor to create five main classifications: Resentful, Pathologically Obsessed, Infamy Seeking, Intimacy Seeking, and Nuisance or Attention Seeking. There are numerous real life examples of each of these types. For example, John Wilkes Boothe would fall under the resentful heading. He was a Confederate sympathizer and resented Lincoln.
Why do these stalkers and would-be assassins act in this way? The motivations cited above are part of the answer. These individuals are often either mentally ill or have a personality disorder which makes them seek out the President. Some want to be famous, some want to kill, and some just want to be noticed. Obviously, this makes the job of the Secret Service that much more challenging. There are so many different kinds of assassins it is hard to keep track. There is no one profile.
It has been nearly fifty years since a President was last assassinated, although there have been attempts since. We need to understand what drives these presidential stalkers, in order to ensure no future president dies by the assassin’s bullet. Read More
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