© Copyright 2005 Kurt Snyder

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Delusional Expansion

 

In September of 1998, I took a trip to Florida. I drove down there from Maryland. I left in the afternoon and drove overnight. Late at night, probably about 3 am, I decided to pull off the interstate and go to sleep for a while. I took the first exit I came upon and found a rural road where there was no traffic. I parked on the shoulder in the grass and went to sleep in the front seat of my pickup truck. I was miles from nowhere and well off the interstate. There were no cars and no lights anywhere to be seen. When I woke up, it was still early in the morning, but there was some light from the dawn. I noticed an SUV parked across the Road about 300 yards behind me. I can remember thinking, "I wonder if that is part of the surveillance crew." I drove off the shoulder and made my way back to the interstate. I did not see the car follow me. But, I starting thinking, "I didn't see any cars parked there when I went to sleep. How did they find me? Maybe there is some type of tracking device attached to my truck. Yeah, That's it. There must be some kind of tracking device hidden on my truck."

After this point, the idea in my mind that I was under surveillance began to grow larger. I like to call this mental phenomenon 'Delusional Expansion'. The delusion expands, and becomes larger and larger. The delusion begins to encompass more people, more places, more things. This delusional expansion continued over the next two years. At this particular point in time, I began to envision a surveillance crew that was assigned to keep track of me 24 hours a day, no matter where I went. "They were following me to Florida. They had hidden a device on my truck that would allow them to keep track of me anywhere."

I got to my destination in Florida--a condo located on the water in Tampa. During my entire stay there, I noticed that there was one particular boat out on the water, directly in front of the condo, but perhaps a quarter mile out. . I remember thinking that it must be part of the surveillance crew. Later, as I drove around Tampa I wondered how many vehicles were trying to follow me.

One night in Florida, I came across a theater and decided to watch a movie. The name of the movie I picked was 'Enemy of the State'. I don't remember whether I knew anything about the movie ahead of time. The movie is about a common citizen who comes under surveillance by the National Security Agency. During the movie, the main character is chased by government agents all over the city. During one chase scene, as I sat there watching the movie, I got tapped on the shoulder by a man sitting behind me who whispered 'That's you!'. I also heard a girl sitting behind me saying to him 'Stop it. Stop it now.' I did not turn around. After the movie, I thought it was very unusual that I was thinking about people following me around, and while I was watching a scene about a guy being followed around, someone would tap on my shoulder and say 'That's you!'. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. On the other hand, I thought, maybe the guy was a very unprofessional crewmember working for the surveillance team, and maybe he had committed the faux pas of interacting with the surveillance subject, (being me).

I didn't think about this situation very much after this, but it occurred to me at that time that when you are on a surveillance crew, there might be a great urge to communicate with the surveillance subject in some circumstances. Especially if you are not getting any information from the surveillance. This urge must certainly be controlled and suppressed if the surveillance is to be conducted properly. The point of surveillance would seem to be nullified if the subject knows they are under surveillance. In my case however, if they had received my email message, then they might think that I already know that they are watching me. If the subject knows when they are under constant surveillance, then direct communication with the subject might sometimes seem to be a better option for gathering information. After this incident, I got the idea in my mind that some members of the surveillance crew might have the desire to communicate directly with me, but that this communication was probably not allowed due to a set of standard protocols they were required to follow. Interestingly enough, the movie itself didn't influence my delusion. The movie was a fabrication of someone else's imagination. Even though the subject was similar to what I thought I was experiencing, it was not my own version of reality. It otherwise affected me very little.

I thought for sure that after the surveillance team had followed me around for a while, they would conclude that they were not getting anymore pertinent information, and they would 'Give up', or they would resort to other methods.

I returned to Maryland and continued working at Iridium for several more months. I also continued working several days a week for Woody and Judy. Sometime in the fall, Woody approached me and asked me if I could develop a Windows based computer program for him to keep track of mutual fund investments. Woody was a very shrewd investor. He had very specific requirements for this program, and he wanted it to display more than 30 data points on each mutual fund. He also wanted the program to keep track of funds over an 8 month period. Data for the program would be imported each month from a CD produced by a financial reporting company. At the time, there was no commercially available application that could meet his requirements.

I had never done any Windows programming before. However, I thought I was smart enough to learn how. I told him I would be starting from scratch and would need some time to teach myself. He agreed to be patient and wait a while for the results. I accepted the challenge. I bought myself a computer, and got to work on this new project. At first, I worked on it very little because my handyman work was occupying most of my time. It took me at least four months to learn the programming language, and was at least five more months after that before I had an example to show Woody.

Now, it was about December 1998. Since my trip to Florida, I had not seen any more vehicles that I thought could be following me. Instead of concluding that no one was following me, I concluded that THEY no longer needed to follow me directly, because they had a tracking device hidden on my truck. That was the reason I saw no one following me.

At this time, I was renting a three bedroom apartment with another roommate. We needed a third roommate to lower our individual rent. We had discussed interviewing several people together, and making a joint decision about who we would rent to. However, I came home from work one day and found a message that my roommate had already found someone. Apparently, he had decided, without talking to me, that this person was acceptable, and he had already given the guy the keys to our apartment. Later that day, I met our new roommate, 'Jim', and was immediately suspicious of him. Jim was about 50 years old, and seemed to be a little bit too friendly. I wondered whether Jim was an 'operative' from the surveillance team and had been assigned to infiltrate our apartment. I thought that this idea was a bit paranoid, so I decided to ignore it and allow him to move in with us, but I never abandoned the idea as untrue.

Jim became an unusual roommate. The unusual thing about Jim was that I saw him sporadically or not at all. He would come home after I went to bed, and he would leave in the morning before I woke up. I don't remember ever seeing or hearing him take a shower or a bath. I also never saw him washing any clothes. However, the few times I did see him, he didn't smell bad, so he must have been bathing and washing his clothes SOMEWHERE. Perhaps he was doing these things while we were at work. I don't know. I also don't think he ever left any food in the refrigerator or in the kitchen cabinets. I saw him maybe once every two weeks. He seemed reclusive to me. He didn't seem to be any threat, so after a while I did not worry about him anymore. "To each his own" I thought.

Also about this time, I had begun stopping at a particular bar in Great Falls Virginia on my way home from Iridium. I would have a few beers and maybe something to eat. On one particular occasion, I was sitting at the bar and a guy came up and sat next to me. He appeared to be about 55 years old. His name was Bruce. We started talking. He told me he was retired from the CIA after more than 20 years of working there. I believed this, because CIA headquarters was located only about 15 miles away. I asked him how he got the job there.

He said, "You don't apply for jobs at the CIA. They find you, not the other way around. I had a friend working there at the time who recommended me. I was recruited."

"What did you do there?" I asked.

"I was an analyst. But I can't tell you any more."

Then I asked, "What do you do now?".

"Nothing. I'm retired. I keep a boat in Annapolis which I take out every so often". "Interesting. I live just outside of Annapolis."

After our conversation, I continued on my way home. This encounter was inconsequential to my thought processes at that time, but I would remember it later during a crucial point in my illness.

In January 1999, Bob, the facility manager from Iridium, decided to throw a party for some of the staff and their families. He arranged to use a community house in his neighborhood a short drive away from the facility. I was invited to the party along with about 30 other people. Most of us knew each other but there were some people that I did not know. Sometime in the early part of the evening, Bob had everyone introduce themselves to the crowd. Each person took their turn to tell a little bit about themselves. However, when it came to be my turn to introduce myself, Bill, the security director, stood up and did the introduction for me. He said something like this, "Everyone, this is Kurt Snyder, he is now our maintenance worker and handyman. He works hard at what he does, he really tries to do a good job, he really is doing a great job, and we are happy to have him working with us. You may see him around the facility." I was very surprised by this. I thought the fact that Bill himself was saying this was definite confirmation for me that he had received my message months ago. I thought, "Why else would he specifically mention what a good job I was doing?" But I also thought, "Why would he have waited six months to let me know that?" I thought this was Bill's way of sending a message back to me. He didn't mention the message itself or acknowledge receiving it, but he could validate my sentiments about my work.

After the party, Bob thought I had been drinking too much and insisted that I spend the night at his place. I stayed overnight there, but I left early in the morning shortly after waking. I wondered at the time if Bob had any knowledge of the surveillance "project".

For me, the idea that I was under surveillance had become a reality. I was 90% sure it was true. I don't think you could have proven to me that it wasn't true. For months after the party, I continued to believe that the surveillance was an ongoing project, and that it hadn't stopped. I began to question again why it would have continued for so long. I also began to wonder about my assumptions. I began to think, maybe I wasn't under surveillance when I sent the message, but maybe I came under surveillance afterwards because they received the message! Perhaps THEY were wondering how I knew they were monitoring the Internet. Perhaps they had other questions about me that I couldn't know about. I just couldn't escape the idea that people were monitoring me all the time. I couldn't understand why it was continuing for so long. At the same time, I hadn't mentioned this idea to anyone else because I didn't have any real proof that it was occurring. A related delusion, about my computer system being compromised, had also grown stronger in my mind over the course of several months. I began to believe that if THEY had a tracking device in my car, then they probably had bugged my phone at home, and were also monitoring my cell phone calls.

© Copyright 2005 Kurt Snyder

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