What is meant by 'fixated'?


Posted over a year ago in FRM Bulletin

What is meant by 'fixated'?

The term 'fixated' describes isolated individuals who are pursuing obsessional pre-occupations to an irrational degree, usually in the form of idiosyncratic quests or grievances. Particularly common are efforts to right a perceived wrong allegedly perpetrated by an individual or institution, and efforts to achieve intimacy with an idealised individual, often a stranger or acquaintance. Many cases are driven by mental illness or personality problems.

The behaviours in which such fixated loners engage essentially comprise unwanted intrusion, harassment, stalking, threatening, and persistent or querulent complaining. Potential risks which need to be evaluated when people or institutions become the focus of a fixated individual comprise: disruption to events; the costs of security measures or legal action; physical damage to buildings or property; psychological distress to targeted individuals, their partners and families; interference with work function or performance; embarrassment or reputational damage; and violence against the person.

Intrusive or hostile actions by the fixated are often preceded by 'warning behaviours', especially in the form of communication.

Communications from the fixated, for the most part, do not fall into the category of the obviously cranky or mentally unwell. They commonly appear normal in form, but are unreasonable or inappropriate in content and characterised by a sense of entitlement, intensity and determination.

Organisations that find themselves the focus of fixated individuals invariably absorb the related financial and human cost for longer than necessary, or feel it more acutely than is necessary. This is usually because warning indicators are missed; because when they are identified they are misinterpreted and responded to inappropriately; because risk management decisions involving fixated individuals, in lieu of a more nuanced understanding of likely response, are often made on "gut-feel"; or because as time goes on, cases of fixated intrusion become viewed as purely legal problems, encouraging and all but guaranteeing persistence.

The risk indicators in communication and contact from the fixated are understood, as are those statistically associated with a higher risk of unwanted security ad reputational outcomes.

A structured and evidence-based approach to screening communications increases the opportunity for appropriate institutional responses, reducing the likelihood of persistence or escalation, and in turn, reducing the human and financial burden on an organisation.

  Download PDF Version
Download this article
  Share this article
  Related Articles in FRM Bulletin
 #PublishedArticle Title
Managing Fixated Risk for the Prominent
24 Jun 2015
Managing Fixated Risk for the Prominent
Why are public figures prone to stalking?
03 Feb 2015
Why are public figures prone to stalking?
Abusive Tweeting - what can be done?
02 Feb 2015
Abusive Tweeting - what can be done?
A new law against trolling?
25 Feb 2014
A new law against trolling?