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2013年11月 4日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「恋愛外来」があれば… /東京

October 20, 2013(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Psychiatry needs a stalker action plan
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「恋愛外来」があれば… /東京

There has been yet another heartbreaking case of stalking and murder in Japan. The victim this time was a high school girl, and the suspected killer her ex-boyfriend.

It seems likely that many of us have at some point in our lives been heartbroken by the mere thought of our exes finding someone else, getting married and moving on. But to go from there to following around an old flame, threatening their family and romantic partners and, finally, causing physical harm is beyond explicable behavior for a person of sound mind.

Stalkers sometimes imagine backstories justifying their actions, like, "She's only being so cold to test my love." They also sometimes create reasons to lash out at the people around their obsession, like, "The police and her parents are just trying to get in the way of our pure love." If the ex says that they are not interested in continuing the relationship, the stalker can suddenly lose all emotional control and lash out violently.

The stalker's every moment is possessed by thoughts of his ex, by resentment, anger and reconciliation fantasies. In many such cases, by this point reasoned advice -- you should stop; this won't help anyone -- no longer gets through the storms of emotion raging in the mind of the rejected lover.

So what can be done when the situation gets this bad? If there's a chance the stalker could go from constant phone calls and emails to appearing at someone's house, then the person on the receiving end must make sure they are never alone and be prepared to flee to the home of a relative. What they shouldn't do is try to resolve the situation entirely alone. Rather, they must seek the intervention of a rational, adult voice to try and calm the stalker down, listen to their feelings and, if necessary, recommend medical help.

I have to admit, however, that the psychiatric profession cannot claim it has triumphed over delusional behavior born of romantic obsession. If the stalker comes in asking for help, lamenting an inability to deal with their fixation, then a psychiatrist can give them the mix of drugs and counseling they need. If, however, the stalker insists that they are merely in love and need no treatment, then the best a doctor can do is try to keep them coming back every week, to keep talking, keep getting help.

Pain and confusion in relationships are hardly uncommon. But while there are those who fall into depression and suicidal thinking, there are also those who vow never to give up on their lost love and become stalkers. If mental health clinics set up "romantic problem outpatient" sections, might people unable to let go of the anger and resentment of rejection make enthusiastic use of the service? We need to think hard about what the mental health profession can do to help prevent stalkers from inflicting yet more pain and loss.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2013年10月16日 地方版


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