One of the things I noticed most after leaving religion behind was that the fundamentalist Christianity of my youth gives its adherents a sense of superiority.  As a group, they are, of course, not superior at all to anyone. They are generally not as educated or as successful financially as their non-religious peers. Their children aren’t any better, and in many cases, have much more negative outcomes.  Their divorce rate is higher than that of non-religious people, which seems to translate into unhappier relationships.

But their religion assures them that they are special. There are several different flavors of this, depending on the exact sect being discussed. For instance, Calvinists believe that they are absolutely chosen by “God” (they call this “election”) and that people like me weren’t and are just destined for hell no matter what we do.  Others, the Arminian sort, are more about “whosoever will may come,” but think they were the wise ones who chose to “come to Jesus.”


And it’s really obvious, this sense of entitlement and superiority, when it’s expressed to somebody like who has left.  There is positive glee when they tell me that I’m headed for hell. They are delighted about it.

It’s almost impossible to convince these people that their fantasy is a fantasy.  My mother will die a True Believer.  It has given her life meaning. Without Jesus, she would have to deal with the fact that she has sacrificed so much, and gone without so many things, and spent so much effort and work for nothing at all, and I don’t think it’s possible for her to do that and remain sane.  At this point, she probably doesn’t have the mental capacity left to do it anyway, but her situation is shared by many others.

Being a “child of the King” is their identity. They cannot give it up.  Special creation means that somebody “out there” is in charge. Without it, where in the hell would we all be?

They believe strongly that if we, for example, end up in nuclear war because of the moron in the White House, well, that’s “God’s will.” They find comfort in that.

But mostly, they believe that they, personally, are special; that the guy who is in charge of everything knows all about them personally; and that he is arranging every detail of their entire lives. They will deny this, but they believe they are better than everyone else.  They cover this up by saying, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven,” and shit like that, but believe me, they think they’re better/smarter/more humble/more worthy.

Photo courtesy of That Guy Doug

This old building was part of the complex where I lived for three months in 1967. It didn’t have broken out windows then.  It was full of people, mentally ill people.

This is a part of the enormous place that was the State Mental Hospital on Bull Street in Columbia, South Carolina, and it’s where I did my psych rotation as a student nurse.  We lived in a nurse’s residence which included not only our rooms but classrooms in the basement and a kitchen. I remember sneaking down to the kitchen late at night sometimes to raid the cabinets and refrigerators for snacks.

We did most of our training in what was called the Admission Building, where newly-committed patients stayed for the first 30 days (I think – it’s hard to remember exactly after so many years). At the end of that period, they were evaluated and either discharged or held for another 30 days.  And finally, if they didn’t improve enough to be discharged, and it was felt they required long-term care, the patient was sent to the chronic wards.

We spent very little time on those chronic wards and I was really glad because it was essentially a warehouse full of mentally ill people without good drugs and with little treatment available.

There was also a separate building for the criminally insane, which we never visited for obvious security reasons.

The hospital was closed for good in the 1980s, in favor of smaller, community-based mental health treatment. I’m not sure that those folks are better off now.  The sorts of people we had were those that you see now as homeless people living on the streets.

taken from video by AbandonedSC

Anyway, during my stay there, we were assigned a patient or two every time we went to the ward (several days per week, and we often accompanied the patients on outings and to church on Sundays – you can see the church in the photo above). We were given access to their charts and expected to know everything in the world about them, and we were quizzed on it. And we were expected to interact with our patients in the day room.

This could be a challenge.

The day room was a large room filled with people and with a television going all the time. Conversation was difficult at best.

But I remember one patient in particular. Funny how I’ve never forgotten him.  He was an older man (since I was so young, he was probably in his forties), tall and thin.  And he was very, very out of it.  He had managed to get the staff to give him a mop head.  Not the mop stick, just the stringy mop head.

He wore it on his head all the time.

He walked around the day room constantly (which is more than likely why he was thin), talking to himself.  Trying to have a conversation with him was almost impossible. He would look at you, acknowledge your presence briefly and then be gone back into his private inner world.

His diagnosis, which was pretty obvious with about two minutes of observation, was paranoid schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia (literally “split mind”) embodies a break with reality. Schizophrenics often hear voices, or have all sorts of delusions, and the folks who have the paranoid version of it think somebody is after them, or out to get them.

Paranoia is one of the very common things you see in an acute psych ward.  Another is a fixation on religion, often wild and odd and sometimes obscure.

This particular patient had them both.  He was getting messages from “God” via his mop head which is why it was so important to him.  He paced all around the perimeter of the large area, carrying on animated conversations with the “God” he heard that we couldn’t hear.

He was special.  “God” talked to him.  “God” didn’t bother with the rest of us. Only him.

And all that, which I know looks like rambling, leads me to this.

click image to link to New York Times article

Mental illness is not illness the way appendicitis is illness.  I know that people try to picture it that way, but it’s not.

You either have appendicitis or you do not.  There are degrees of severity for sure. Some cases of appendicitis are mild enough to respond to antibiotic treatment and others require surgery, but it’s still either an infected appendix or it is not.

You either have diabetes or you don’t.

But all of us are a wee bit crazy. All of us exhibit slight personality disorders.

Ever lock the doors before bed, and then get in bed and suddenly become obsessed with the idea that maybe you didn’t and get back up and go check?  That’s a very mild version of what obsessive-compulsive disorder is like.

Ever experience depression for no obvious reason, short-lived, or a sudden euphoria without discernible cause?  That’s a very mild version of what it’s like to be bipolar.

It’s a big question:  what is “normal”? What does that mean?

The mop-head wearer in the mental hospital was hearing “God” talking to him. He was determined to be insane.  My mother talks to “God” regularly.  My mother also believes passionately that “God” answers her. Yet she’s never been considered insane.


What’s the difference?

It’s in degree.

Mop-head Guy was delusional.  My mother is delusional.  But Mop-head Guy’s delusions interfered with his daily life and his ability to interact with people to the point that he simply couldn’t function.  My mother’s delusions haven’t. They’ve caused her a lot of unnecessary trouble, including a divorce, but she’s never been considered even slightly “insane.”

When your obsession over whether or not you locked the doors or your emotional mood swings become so severe that you can’t hold down a job, you can’t get through a day without forgetting to eat, your ability to function becomes seriously impaired, then you are deemed to have a “mental illness” or “personality disorder.” (There are only fine distinctions between the two terms, and no agreement about what they mean.)

So, you can be considered weird, or eccentric, and if you can function in your daily life, nobody is gonna describe you as having any sort of psychological pathology.  Get to the point that you’re walking around wearing a mop-head and can’t hold a conversation with a real person for more than a few seconds, and you’ll find yourself either homeless in Chicago or in a mental institution.

The New York Times (above) describes a whole group of people with paranoid delusions. These people, who call themselves “targeted individuals,” would have been just considered a bit odd back before the internet came along and probably would have continued to function okay without treatment of any sort, but because of the internet, they are no longer alone.

They have found the other people who have similar paranoid delusions, and formed nice little clubs and groups and stuff where they feed each other.

They believe that, for one reason or another, the government is out to get them.

I found this positively fascinating, and did a little looking around, and fell into the rabbit hole that is the world of the “targeted individual.” They look normal, don’t they?  (Video in the NYT article)

Here are some quotes from some of their websites.

Terrorist Gang Stalking is a tool employed by fascists who seek to quash freedom of speech along many other Constitutional rights. Please join us in the fight to expose and stop this insidious crime.

With the variety of digital cameras available (cell phones, spy cameras, etc.), you can take photos and videos either overtly or covertly. Both have advantages. If you are trying to annoy the perp’s, taking their photo in an obvious way, might be a good method. On the other hand, if you’re trying to document their actions, a covert spy-camera approach might be better.

Once caught in the web of the gang stalking Program, a target is subject to a full court press that invades every aspect of their life and is calculated to destroy that person. The process is highly formulaic programmatic, systematic and systemic. Key to the destruction of a gang stalking target is a full penetration and infiltration of their environs, including their constant surveillance and harassment in their home, workplace/school mobbing of the target, and target’s isolation from friends and family members.

These kind of claims run the gamut from the couple who claimed that people in town didn’t like them (because they tried to force a couple to sell them property when the couple didn’t want to sell at all) so they all drove past their house and beeped their horns (I’m serious, this made the national news), to people who believe that government somehow does “astral” examinations of them which seems to be something like alien abductions.

All this would be funny, in a sad sort of way, but these folks have managed to band together and in some cases, demand that legislatures pass legislation they have dreamed up in their heads.

If you don’t do anything else, do take the time to read the New York Times article.  It’s pretty comprehensive.

Trying to convince these people that they are having problems with mental illness and delusional behavior is pretty much fruitless, because they have banded together and insist that anyone who disagrees with them or who tries to convince them they are bananas is “in on it.”

So what does all this, fascinating as it is, have to with Mop-head Guy or my mother and her religion?

It has to do with being special, with having meaning and purpose.

Mop-head Guy was special because “God” spoke to him directly in his head.  My mother believes she is special because Jesus is directing her every step personally.

And these people, who are suffering from delusional psychoses to some degree, think they are special too. They are “targeted individuals.” Targeted. You poor sap, you aren’t. You don’t matter as much as they do.  They have taken a stand against evil government, or they know something that would be damaging. They are preparing to expose the corruption that exists in their town, county, state, nation, and the local officials/US government officials are hell-bent to do anything possible to silence them.

The couple with the honking horns seem to have never considered that perhaps they just pissed off a whole pile of people in a smallish town and that they simply aren’t liked at all.  Instead, they see themselves as victimized. They see the dislike as organized.  It has to be.

Otherwise, they have to face the fact that they are most probably just assholes.










15 thoughts on “Gangs”

  1. I think Joe and Nicole are having a tough time dealing with their steadily diminishing ability to intimidate people. For my part they are not important people. They really, really want to be important but with the pronouncement of importance without doing a thing to merit it. Indeed they are so close to homeless bums as one can get and still have a shed and a brood. The real tragedy is the ten, eleven or twelve children (Joe isn’t sure) they brought into the world that they are really striving to handicap for the rest of their lives.

    For my part, I think Joe and Nicole are less religious than Lenin. But church people are the people they like to prey on. Trouble is they have exhausted the area of church people and exhausted the church people’s patience as well. So Joe hijacks several points of Mormon teaching and molds his own weird variety so he could be important (and to make pronouncements justifying his hideous behavior). Religion is their public pretense. Their real behavior is to steal, menace, call women (that word), do far worse and frightening than the Nauglers themselves refer to as stalking, and generally try to terrorize people who aren’t cooperating as prey.

    But then they decided to reach out to the world (going viral) to get sympathy money for neglecting their kids. They proved to
    Be the most doxxing, harassing, conspiring, filthy and ludicrous people on the planet. What did you have to do to get such attentions from them? Comment on another website supporting the sheriff’s actions, warn others that the Nauglers were nowhere near decent people, or suggest that they do something different that would be more effective.


  2. I’m sure my eyes just bugged out…
    Sally you and I went to the same State Hospital for our psychiatric rotation
    There was a Sally in the class before me…
    I don’t suppose the school you went to started with a “T”?
    I, for some reason was picked as one of five student nurses who were given a more intense training with the expectation we would become psychiatric nurses.
    One of the things I did was shadow a psychiatrist who asked me why I wanted to be a nurse rather than get married. I had already decided he was creepy.
    We also got a tour of the criminally insane ward. We were walked down this smelly hallway and were told to stay on one side of a line to stay out of reach and possible body fluids.
    I found it to be dehumanizing for the inmates. Some were yelling words this little southern innocent child had never heard before.
    I didn’t blame them for acting out, we were probably rare entertainment .
    Walking into the ward of lost souls I got my first experience with a catatonic woman and I was told “nobody home” but I didn’t believe it.
    She was there, somewhere, lost and we didn’t know how to dig her out. I ended up very frustrated.
    Was the gentleman who marched back and forth every day, rain or shine, so much that he wore a small trench in the landscape there when you were there? My heart broke for him.
    The best thing that came out of my rotation was a trip to a Montessori school. I made sure both of my children started Montessori at three years old.
    I also liked learning the skill of interviewing the patients. I learned information from my patients that was new…whether it actually helped them or not, I wasn’t there long enough to see a difference.
    At the end of our rotation, as we sat in the stadium classroom, the DON asked for a show of hands from those who were considering becoming psychiatric nurses.
    The DON stared straight at me but I kept my hand down trying to be invisible.
    She called me to her office and asked my I did not raise my hand.
    I told her that there was a fine line between sane and insane, and that because I empathized too much with the patients I had been surrounded by, I knew I would soon have a problem with reality.
    I did not tell her that there was no way in hell they’d ever get me near the criminally insane building again.
    As for the Nauglers?
    They, in my opinion, zig zag over that fine line.


  3. We also got a tour of the criminally insane ward. We were walked down this smelly hallway and were told to stay on one side of a line to stay out of reach and possible body fluids.

    You just jogged my memory. YES, we did exactly the same thing. I remember distinctly being told to stay to one side and I remember the inmates yelling at us. I had forgotten all about that. What had stood out for me was that we were not allowed to enter that building ever under any other circumstances and we all knew why.

    I found it mostly a depressing place, although I loved the psych classes. We had a prof who was simply amazing.

    I graduated from Greenville General Hospital School of Nursing in 1969. It was one of the old three-year diploma programs.


  4. BTW, MIM, go to the video that I link in the still photo of the church. You might enjoy it. It’s a video tour of the grounds done in the last few years. The place is, of course, falling apart, but golly gee, what a flood of memories I had watching it.


  5. Oh for shits sake. Same old same old complaints. Have they seriously never considered that they and their subsequent actions are the reason for the reactions of others? I already know the answer to this.

    Don’t they realize that they are digging a deeper grave that is really not necessary? No wait, I know the answer to that too.

    If they spent even half as much time really homesteading instead of fauxsteading, maybe people would take them seriously. Maybe.

    They neglect (and emotionally abuse) their children and call it Unschooling. They apply a permenant Instagram filter to their bullshit. My guinea pig can see through it.

    They disgust me. I don’t hate them. I pity the fuck out of them. They are so pathetic that it is almost hard to explain. Just so stupid.

    They are also vile. So I pity their children and pets and neighbors. I pity her clients. I pity all of them.

    She can keep talking and spouting her bullshit. It only solidifies that she is truly not smart. Joe can keep picking the bugs out of his beard while googling 3 syllable words to post. It solidifies that he is a worthless piece of shit who can’t function as even a basic human.

    I can not wait for their civil suit. I imagine that I might be one of the ones on that list. I am hoping for it. There was a time that I would offered to pay for their attorney just to see it all happen. Because those suits will absolutely be the end of them. And this needs to end for the sake of those kids.

    So yes. It is still about the kids. It is still about getting them to safety. It is also about protecting the hundreds of people over twenty plus years who have been victimized by the Nauglers.

    So keep rambling Nicole and joe. Please.


  6. Well, I now have a headache from wandering through what pictures I could find of the South Carolina State Hospital.
    Spooky and abandoned ( I’m trying not to feel ancient)
    The Babcock and the Mills building are on the National register… I wonder if that will save them…
    I’d love to tour the Mills again.
    I can still smell the weird smell of the pancake syrup wafting up from the downstairs cafeteria, that sorta smelled like Log Cabin mixed with maple syrup.

    My roommate was scared of a possible copycat murderer making their way into our dorm…because of Richard Speck.
    She insisted we block our doors with the dresser every night.?
    I visited family after the State Hospital closed, and was shopping downtown Columbia.
    A fellow came up behind me swearing and talking in word salads and I nearly jumped through a plate glass window.
    This poor fellow was now fending for himself on the streets.

    The Nauglers back then would have been complete out cast and “Piss poor” …
    There would quite possibly been fewer of them, as the population had not been as well vaccinated.
    By the time I was a nursing student iron lungs were a rarity, but several of my grade and high school classmates were severely crippled from polio. (The ones who lived) …

    The Nauglers and their gang of Internet misfits have their own parallel universe of hive think where they have created their own science and history bereft of actual facts.
    Social media can only make this worse.

    Assorted psychopaths have to love playing on social media.
    It appears to be a fun way to make money, playing on the insecurities, and ignorance of people like the Nauglers.
    The Nauglers are social media tagalongs who think they are teaching the world something new.
    I find the Nauglers and how everyone reacts to them fascinating.


  7. I can still smell the weird smell of the pancake syrup wafting up from the downstairs cafeteria, that sorta smelled like Log Cabin mixed with maple syrup.

    The food was so off-putting to me that I lost weight while I was there. And I only weighed about 90 pounds when I arrived, so it alarmed my mother when I came home for a weekend and she realized how much weight I was losing.

    It was indeed a spooky place. At the time, I had no idea it was so old, and certainly didn’t know anything about its history.


  8. Thanks for the NYT link Sally. It’s interesting that there are so many people around the world that believe they are special enough for some great conspiracy to be after little individual them, isnt’ it?

    Joe and Nicole are interesting–they’ve got several layers going on. At the local level, they pissed off some people, probably because they are, as they appear to be, self important assholes who think their rights come before the rights of anyone else.

    Then they went viral, and their story got lots of attention, even internationally, and who’d of thought, not everyone who read about it was on their side. But rather than ignore all of the negative comments and focus on the good and getting their family back together, they lashed out and attacked people who made minor comments on random news or facebook pages. Did they think those initial comments were already part of a bigger conspiracy? At what point did disparate nay-sayers become a gang, a “they” out to get them in their minds?

    At this point, Naugler determination to attack those who speak out against them has created a sense of community among some people who never would have met otherwise, but if there’s a gang or organized anti-Naugler faction, I’m sad because I’ve never got my invitation or learned the secret handshake. I can understand the part of their delusion that makes them feel the need to document everything they perceive as a slight, but I can’t understand their need to interact and comment on it all. I think they like the idea that there’s an organized group out to get them–it feeds into their delusions of self importance.


  9. Excellent post, Sally.

    I was raised SDA. We were super special, part of the 144,000 who would be saved at the second coming.

    Even as a little kid I had a hard time believing that stuff. I tried and tried, gave up, decided that I was just an evil person then went back to trying again. I spent my childhood on that merry go round and it was exhausting.

    Your take on religion and mental illness makes sense.

    I finally understand why I find the Naugler story so fascinating. ;D


  10. I’ve written this a few times trying to figure out how much info I am willing to give out. I am open about being bipolar, it’s been a battle, it’s been a source of embarrassment for me, yet it’s not something I am embarrassed about. I try to find the line about being open, yet not being totally naked.

    Mental illness is a funny thing. It messes with your mind, it messes with your memory and it messes with reality. I’ve been in the depths of depression, mania and delusions at various periods of my life. I’ve spent time on the other side of the door than Sally in mental hospitals. It’s an odd place to be. But those times I was there were the safest for me. I’ve had people tell me I hide my mental health issues well. Perhaps I do. But then again when I’ve been hospitalized I don’t think anyone was shocked.

    I guess the difference in my case is support. I am truly lucky. I have a husband that will not let me fall into the abyss. I’ve thought about my life without him, I don’t think it would be pretty. That’s a source of happiness and sadness for me. Happiness that I have him to guide me back from the edge, sadness because I know I am forever broken. But the reality is that I choose to keep myself healthy, I chose not to let this mental illness take over me. I choose to rise above it. I choose to get out of bed each day and be a loving mother, a wife, a friend, a productive member of society.

    Only one person has every made a snarky remark about my mental illness. Any guesses who? Nicole, that’s who. That’s okay. Mostly because the meds she told me to take are the meds that keep me from being a delusional nutcase.

    I read through the NYT article. It was fascinating. The line between conspiracy theory and mental illness is so fine. Feed this shit to someone already on the edge and they will eat it up especially if they have no assistance in bringing them back to reality.

    I do think that is the case with Joe and Nicole. They feed off each other. Whether their delusions are due to some underlying mental illness or because they are just assholes is quite frankly not my concern because they can be both assholes and mentally ill. And I suppose they can also be delusional without being mental ill. The fact is they are delusional. They are assholes. And they aren’t special. They just happen to be some grifters who got a shit ton of money by playing victim and instead of bettering themselves with that money they are just trying to feed the sob story and get some more.

    It’s hard to get up everyday and do something to make the world around you a better place but I manage to do it most days and if I can there certainly isn’t an excuse for them not to.

    Thanks Sally, your blog posts are always so thought provoking. I appreciate the conversation here.


  11. I’ve written this a few times trying to figure out how much info I am willing to give out.

    Dinah, that took courage, and I applaud you. One of the things I really absorbed while doing psych training was that “mental illness” is not like cancer. We are all a wee bit “crazy” as I pointed out in what I wrote. Everyone has highs and lows. Everyone. I don’t know anyone who has never been inexplicably depressed for no discernible reason.

    The difference is solely in degree as to whether or not you get to wear the “bipolar” label. And that’s something nobody can prevent or crow about not wearing.

    Thank science that we now have reasonably good medications for this sort of thing and people do not have to just suffer horribly like they did back in the bad old days. And boo to Congress for attempting to make it hard to get that medication.


  12. But mostly, they believe that they, personally, are special; that the guy who is in charge of everything knows all about them personally; and that he is arranging every detail of their entire lives.

    I don’t get how anyone can believe that God’s just sitting there planning their lives, and that Jesus is standing at the pearly gates waiting to embrace them and go for long walks with them and be bosom best buddies. There are billions of people in the world, and millions of Christians. There’s only so much time. How can God and Jesus have the time to devote to just them and their families?


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