A Study in Sadism

It has been three years since the last overt harassment I'd received from Dan Schultz, Scott Wirkus, and the handful of followers who called themselves the "Phreak Army." This isn't proof that they'll never do anything again; there have been gaps in the past of as much as six months between their hostile acts. But it is encouraging, and this is a good time to reflect on what I've learned about their mindset. It's still bewildering that someone whom I'd never met could develop an obsession about me that lasted five years. Schultz and Wirkus obsessed about other people during that period, but it appears, from the evidence available to me, that their hatred of me was the dominant feature of their lives from 1996 to 2001.

There's no point in going over their specific actions again, except as necessary to illustrate a certain type of personality. Check my existing pages on their actions for background. What I'm trying to do here is to develop a perspective, not to pick at my old scabs. The line between the two can be very fine.

An online article, "Types of Stalker" by Dr. Lorraine Sheridan of the University of Leicester, sheds more light on their actions than anything I've seen before. She describes several categories of stalker. Of these categories, the "sadistic stalker" fits Schultz and Wirkus startlingly well.

A few of the many points which fit (English requires the use of either a gender or clumsy circumlocutions, but Dr. Sheridan recognizes that the stalker is not necessarily a "he" or the victim a "she"):

The advice which Dr. Sheridan gives also fits closely: "acknowledge from outset that the stalker activity will be very difficult to eradicate; acknowledge that there is no point whatsoever in appealing to the offender - indeed will exacerbate the problem."

Another piece of advice by Dr. Sheridan matches up with my experience: "the victim should carefully consider relocation. Geographical emphasis being less on distance per se, and more on where the offender is least able to find the victim." Since Schultz and Wirkus never attempted to contact me in person, though they did invite me to meet them, geography wasn't a factor; but "virtual relocation" by setting up email filters to minimize their capability for harassment and later getting an unlisted number so they couldn't call me, apparently has contributed to the long hiatus since their last acts of harassment.

Of the other categories, "delusional fixation stalking" is the closest to my experience, but there are marked differences. This type of stalking is overtly sexual or romantic in nature; that wasn't the case with Schultz and Wirkus, and their targeting phone sex operators when impersonating me isn't really the same thing. In noting the difference, Dr. Sheridan refer's to the delusional stalker's "stated belief that the victim wants to be with him (cf. sadistic stalkers' similar statements but with sinister twists such as 'in heaven' or simply as a means of accentuating the victim's feelings of despair that nothing works)." Schultz's statement on eyada.com that he wanted to "bury the hatchet -- in [my] head" is that kind of sadistic-stalker twist.

While simply describing a category isn't that much of a step toward understanding, there's a certain comfort in knowing that this type of case has been encountered and categorized before. The differences -- particularly Schultz and Wirkus's own delusions of fame, and their constructing the harassment in the framework of an Internet "comedy show" -- are also significant. Their ability to find scum with money who saw harassment as a niche in the dot-com boom made them perhaps unique for a time.

I certainly hope that Schultz and Wirkus's obsession with me has ended, but there are no assurances of that short of a coroner's report. Whether it is over or not, any shreds of understanding help me to deal with what has happened before.

Addendum, October 2008:

It's occurred to me that a lot is explained by Schultz and Wirkus's inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. In one message they left on my answering machine, they compared themselves to Seinfeld, as if there were no difference between the difficulties in which sitcom characters find themselves and the pain which Schultz and Wirkus have inflicted on actual people.

While making harassing telephone calls impersonating me, they made comments mocking me as if I were the person making the calls. On a superficial level, they were boasting at their ability to defame me. But I think also that as they made the calls, they actually believed I was making the calls, and thus I was guilty of their actions. By doing this, they removed their own guilt for harassing and threatening people. They also removed themselves from the anger which their victims felt; Schultz said, for example, when one victim was saying she'd call the police to tell them about the harassment, that she was "threatening Gary."

They managed to attract people with a similar mindset into their Phreak Army, or else encourage it in them. Belief in a fantasy can be a powerful tool in getting others to believe it. Harassing e-mail from the Phreaks often claimed things about me which both the sender and I clearly knew weren't true. Phreak Chad Kovac posted false information about me to a public directory website, claiming that I was a member of the Phreak Army. Another member of the gang wrote a mock-sympathetic message declaring that I had few or no friends and had considered suicide on multiple occasions. Another, under a subject line claiming to request help, told me that I was a drunk and my mother knew it.

There are people who think reality becomes whatever they say it is. They devise rationalizations, not just to excuse themselves, but to create a reality in which their evil acts are justified. It's related to religious fanaticism and to the invention of conspiracies. I have to admit I don't comprehend how a mind can work that way. Doublethink is involved. Schultz and Wirkus knew they were making the calls; they weren't literally hallucinating. Yet at the same time they believed that they weren't.

Bob Meyrowitz is, of course, a completely different case. He is pure sleaze, and anything which eyada.com did to me was simply a means to money for him.

Copyright 2004, 2008 by Gary McGath

Last updated October 19, 2008

History of harassment by Schultz and Wirkus through eyada.com
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