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    Rights statement: ©Andrew Lustig, Gavin Brookes, Daniel Hunt. Final published version Lustig A, Brookes G, Hunt D Social Semiotics of Gangstalking Evidence Videos on YouTube: Multimodal Discourse Analysis of a Novel Persecutory Belief System JMIR Ment Health 2021;8(10):e30311doi: 10.2196/30311 is available in JMIR Mental Health https://mental.jmir.org/2021/10/e30311/

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Social Semiotics of Gangstalking Evidence Videos on YouTube: Multimodal Discourse Analysis of a Novel Persecutory Belief System

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Social Semiotics of Gangstalking Evidence Videos on YouTube : Multimodal Discourse Analysis of a Novel Persecutory Belief System. / Lustig, Andrew; Brookes, Gavin; Hunt, Daniel.

In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 8, No. 10, 230311, 31.10.2021.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

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Lustig A, Brookes G, Hunt D. Social Semiotics of Gangstalking Evidence Videos on YouTube: Multimodal Discourse Analysis of a Novel Persecutory Belief System. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2021 Oct 31;8(10):230311. doi: 10.2196/30311

Author

Lustig, Andrew ; Brookes, Gavin ; Hunt, Daniel. / Social Semiotics of Gangstalking Evidence Videos on YouTube : Multimodal Discourse Analysis of a Novel Persecutory Belief System. In: Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2021 ; Vol. 8, No. 10.

Bibtex

@article{acfb598195504c808e50fac49841ba1f,
title = "Social Semiotics of Gangstalking Evidence Videos on YouTube: Multimodal Discourse Analysis of a Novel Persecutory Belief System",
abstract = "Background: Gangstalking refers to a novel persecutory belief system wherein sufferers believe that they are being followed,watched, and harassed by a vast network of people in their community who have been recruited as complicit perpetrators. Theyare frequently diagnosed as mentally ill, although they reject this formulation. Those affected by this belief system self-identifyas targeted individuals (TIs). They seek to prove the veracity of their persecution and dispute the notion that they are mentallyill by posting videos online that purport to provide evidence of their claims.Objective: The objective of the study was to characterize the multimodal social semiotic practices used in gangstalking evidencevideos.Methods: We assembled a group of 50 evidence videos posted on YouTube by self-identified TIs and performed a multimodalsocial semiotic discourse analysis using a grounded theory approach to data analysis.Results: TIs accomplished several social and interpersonal tasks in the videos. They constructed their own identity as subjectsof persecution and refuted the notion that they suffered from mental illness. They also cultivated positive ambient affiliation withviewers of the videos but manifested hostility toward people who appeared in the videos. They made extensive use of multimodaldeixis to generate salience and construe the gangstalking belief system. The act of filming itself was a source of conflict andserved as a self-fulfilling prophecy; filming was undertaken to neutrally record hostility directed toward video bloggers (vloggers).However, the act of filming precipitated the very behaviors that they set out to document. Finally, the act of filming was alsoregarded as an act of resistance and empowerment by vloggers.Conclusions: These data provide insight into a novel persecutory belief system. Interpersonal concerns are important for peopleaffected, and they construe others as either sympathetic or hostile. They create positive ambient affiliation with viewers. Wefound that vloggers use multimodal deixis to illustrate the salience of the belief system. The videos highlighted the Derrideanconcept of diff{\'e}rance, wherein the meaning of polysemous signifiers is deferred without definitive resolution. This may beimportant in communicating with people and patients with persecutory belief systems. Clinicians may consider stepping awayfrom the traditional true/false dichotomy endorsed by psychiatric classification systems and focus on the ambiguity in semioticsystems generally and in persecutory belief systems specifically.",
keywords = "internet, discourse analysis, psychosis, delusion, semiotics, linguistics, computer-mediated communication, schizophrenia, eHealth, video, communication, YouTube, social media, discourse, mental health",
author = "Andrew Lustig and Gavin Brookes and Daniel Hunt",
note = "{\textcopyright}Andrew Lustig, Gavin Brookes, Daniel Hunt. Final published version Lustig A, Brookes G, Hunt D Social Semiotics of Gangstalking Evidence Videos on YouTube: Multimodal Discourse Analysis of a Novel Persecutory Belief System JMIR Ment Health 2021;8(10):e30311doi: 10.2196/30311 is available in JMIR Mental Health https://mental.jmir.org/2021/10/e30311/",
year = "2021",
month = oct,
day = "31",
doi = "10.2196/30311",
language = "English",
volume = "8",
journal = "Journal of Medical Internet Research",
issn = "1439-4456",
publisher = "JMIR PUBLICATIONS, INC",
number = "10",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Social Semiotics of Gangstalking Evidence Videos on YouTube

T2 - Multimodal Discourse Analysis of a Novel Persecutory Belief System

AU - Lustig, Andrew

AU - Brookes, Gavin

AU - Hunt, Daniel

N1 - ©Andrew Lustig, Gavin Brookes, Daniel Hunt. Final published version Lustig A, Brookes G, Hunt D Social Semiotics of Gangstalking Evidence Videos on YouTube: Multimodal Discourse Analysis of a Novel Persecutory Belief System JMIR Ment Health 2021;8(10):e30311doi: 10.2196/30311 is available in JMIR Mental Health https://mental.jmir.org/2021/10/e30311/

PY - 2021/10/31

Y1 - 2021/10/31

N2 - Background: Gangstalking refers to a novel persecutory belief system wherein sufferers believe that they are being followed,watched, and harassed by a vast network of people in their community who have been recruited as complicit perpetrators. Theyare frequently diagnosed as mentally ill, although they reject this formulation. Those affected by this belief system self-identifyas targeted individuals (TIs). They seek to prove the veracity of their persecution and dispute the notion that they are mentallyill by posting videos online that purport to provide evidence of their claims.Objective: The objective of the study was to characterize the multimodal social semiotic practices used in gangstalking evidencevideos.Methods: We assembled a group of 50 evidence videos posted on YouTube by self-identified TIs and performed a multimodalsocial semiotic discourse analysis using a grounded theory approach to data analysis.Results: TIs accomplished several social and interpersonal tasks in the videos. They constructed their own identity as subjectsof persecution and refuted the notion that they suffered from mental illness. They also cultivated positive ambient affiliation withviewers of the videos but manifested hostility toward people who appeared in the videos. They made extensive use of multimodaldeixis to generate salience and construe the gangstalking belief system. The act of filming itself was a source of conflict andserved as a self-fulfilling prophecy; filming was undertaken to neutrally record hostility directed toward video bloggers (vloggers).However, the act of filming precipitated the very behaviors that they set out to document. Finally, the act of filming was alsoregarded as an act of resistance and empowerment by vloggers.Conclusions: These data provide insight into a novel persecutory belief system. Interpersonal concerns are important for peopleaffected, and they construe others as either sympathetic or hostile. They create positive ambient affiliation with viewers. Wefound that vloggers use multimodal deixis to illustrate the salience of the belief system. The videos highlighted the Derrideanconcept of différance, wherein the meaning of polysemous signifiers is deferred without definitive resolution. This may beimportant in communicating with people and patients with persecutory belief systems. Clinicians may consider stepping awayfrom the traditional true/false dichotomy endorsed by psychiatric classification systems and focus on the ambiguity in semioticsystems generally and in persecutory belief systems specifically.

AB - Background: Gangstalking refers to a novel persecutory belief system wherein sufferers believe that they are being followed,watched, and harassed by a vast network of people in their community who have been recruited as complicit perpetrators. Theyare frequently diagnosed as mentally ill, although they reject this formulation. Those affected by this belief system self-identifyas targeted individuals (TIs). They seek to prove the veracity of their persecution and dispute the notion that they are mentallyill by posting videos online that purport to provide evidence of their claims.Objective: The objective of the study was to characterize the multimodal social semiotic practices used in gangstalking evidencevideos.Methods: We assembled a group of 50 evidence videos posted on YouTube by self-identified TIs and performed a multimodalsocial semiotic discourse analysis using a grounded theory approach to data analysis.Results: TIs accomplished several social and interpersonal tasks in the videos. They constructed their own identity as subjectsof persecution and refuted the notion that they suffered from mental illness. They also cultivated positive ambient affiliation withviewers of the videos but manifested hostility toward people who appeared in the videos. They made extensive use of multimodaldeixis to generate salience and construe the gangstalking belief system. The act of filming itself was a source of conflict andserved as a self-fulfilling prophecy; filming was undertaken to neutrally record hostility directed toward video bloggers (vloggers).However, the act of filming precipitated the very behaviors that they set out to document. Finally, the act of filming was alsoregarded as an act of resistance and empowerment by vloggers.Conclusions: These data provide insight into a novel persecutory belief system. Interpersonal concerns are important for peopleaffected, and they construe others as either sympathetic or hostile. They create positive ambient affiliation with viewers. Wefound that vloggers use multimodal deixis to illustrate the salience of the belief system. The videos highlighted the Derrideanconcept of différance, wherein the meaning of polysemous signifiers is deferred without definitive resolution. This may beimportant in communicating with people and patients with persecutory belief systems. Clinicians may consider stepping awayfrom the traditional true/false dichotomy endorsed by psychiatric classification systems and focus on the ambiguity in semioticsystems generally and in persecutory belief systems specifically.

KW - internet

KW - discourse analysis

KW - psychosis

KW - delusion

KW - semiotics

KW - linguistics

KW - computer-mediated communication

KW - schizophrenia

KW - eHealth

KW - video

KW - communication

KW - YouTube

KW - social media

KW - discourse

KW - mental health

U2 - 10.2196/30311

DO - 10.2196/30311

M3 - Journal article

VL - 8

JO - Journal of Medical Internet Research

JF - Journal of Medical Internet Research

SN - 1439-4456

IS - 10

M1 - 230311

ER -