When I had a website up for investigation work, I got calls I did not expect–people with affective mental health disorders who wanted help “proving” people were out to get them. Some of these people had absolute textbook paranoia; “they” were out to get the person, usually “they” were the government but sometimes not even that specific, the proof was odd random incidents such as a car parked up the street with the giveaway plate “Watching”, the persecution was often related to sex or sexuality, and had no specified purpose.
I had been offered quite a lot of money on occasions by paranoid people and I could have easily financially exploit their illness, but of course I always turned down these requests. I’m pretty sure that these desperate people did find someone in the investigative community willing to take their money to tell them they were crazy paranoid.
This proved to be very awkward when one such request came from a woman I knew from my social activities. We’d seen each other regularly at meetings, but then she’d drifted off as rumor has it that she was becoming less and less reliable. In her defense, I will say that I have met her husband and that man was enough to drive anyone nuts in five minutes, and she’d managed several decades of mostly sober sanity married to him.
She called me up after I hadn’t seen her in years and said she was going through a divorce and needed my help. I explained to her that I was no longer practicing law and could not help her. She didn’t need a lawyer, she explained. She had one of those. In fact, she had several. But, she said, she needed help because, “I’m being followed. I’m sure “HE’s” behind it, and its been going on for days now.” She wanted me to spend several days following the follower. Since I was sure no such person existed, I told her that I currently had other obligations and would not be able to take her money.
Months later, she did get a divorce with the worst instances of arithmetic I’ve ever seen. The judge decided, correctly, that since this was a long term marriage, she should get half, so he divided six hundred thousand dollars for her share and came up with two hundred thousands. And they say women are bad at math. But what really struck me when I was reading the transcripts of her appeal was the testimony of her husband which was:
“Your honor, my wife was trying to ruin our business. She was going around to all of my customers.”
“And how do you know that, Mr. Brown.”
“Because I followed her. For days.”
Which just goes to prove that just because you are paranoid does NOT mean they aren’t out to get you. In law school, incidentally, I was taught that paranoia is just a higher form of awareness. I was taught this in my legal ethics class, an edict I mention in “The Evil that Men Do.” That was a true story. I don’t make this shit up.