There’s a new definition, a new trend, given the label “ghosting.” Before we get into that, I wanted to first lay out some of the other definitions.
First, there’s a form of identity theft wherein the thief takes on the identity of a deceased person. In the pre-9/11 days, this typically consisted of requesting the birth certificate of a dead person with a birth date close to the thief’s real one so that the new identity would be plausible. The way the paperwork filing worked, birth certificates were traditionally kept separate from death certificates, so the supplying municipality would not even necessarily know that they were supplying a dead person’s proof of birth.
Another definition is when law enforcement “misplaces” a person in custody. They move them around, leaving them in bureaucratic limbo, in order to hold them longer than they would be allowed normally for any number of reasons. The Muslim groups one often saw on the streets of New York City selling books and speaking through megaphones were allegeldy ghosted in this manner on 9/11. The excuse given was that it was for their own protection.
Still other definitions relate to video and photography, with various intended and unintended artifacts appearing on the media.
The most recent, newish trend being discussed is breaking up by ignoring the other party’s phone calls/messages and texts. This is usually discussed in terms of Hollywood and other celebrities, but certainly the behavior is nothing new.
Finally, the definition most appropriate for this blog involves a form of harassment. It is the moving, temporarily hiding or rearranging property. In some cases I’ve also been told that items can be sabotaged. New batteries run out of juice the same or next day. Water bottles have holes in the bottom. All the way up to financially debilitating home and auto problems.
The primary purpose seems to be to make the target appear to be mentally ill, from what I can tell from comparing stories from TIs. The typical scenario involves the inability to locate some object that is important to the target. After perhaps telling others in the home/at the workplace, perhaps even attempting to get their help in locating the object, it suddenly reappears, usually in an obvious place. The target recalls searching that location and those around the target think, “Yeah, sure,” and their confidence in the target’s reliability/sanity is shaken.
It works as one step in the process of isolating the target, who is likewise attempting to try to imagine what happened based on their experience, which only naturally includes wondering if the people they share the home/workplace with are responsible.
Ghosting is just one of many harassment categories and other kinds are typically employed at the same time or close on the heels of others. Combined with the surreptitious administration of drugs, the target rarely avoids the intended effects for long.