Mind-controlled man makes 100+ calls to 911 in a month

Jimmy Shao of Sacramento, CA was arrested for calling 911 more than 100 times in one month. Shao says he won't stop until Congress investigates the shadow government who use satellites to control his mind and body.

“My brain, I can feel it starting. I’m blasted by the signals, every couple of minutes,” Shao told CBS Sacramento. “I yell and I scream, ‘Stop it, I don’t need this,’ but they never listen.”

According to the news report, police promise to arrest Shao again if he continues to call 911, and that they "may look for some counseling to get him some help."

Yeah, um, the latter.


    1. You do know that this wouldn’t actually stop the voices in his head? Which are probably very very real.

  1. After a month they “may” look into getting him mental health services? What a broken society.

    1. The waiting period for some things is a lot longer than the waiting period for others.

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    2. Well, I mean, it’s just 911. It’s not like they’re synonymous with helping those in severe need or anything.

  2. I worked at THE TECH MIT NEWSPAPER and we had a file of these people. We got one or two per month, all different, all with the same story. For some reason, some kind of “schizophrenia”-like psychiatric disorders produce this a lot.

    Note: We got a number of “As Almighty GOD I greet you” and “My refrigerator whispers messages from God to me” also. But we got far more “The CIA is using radio waves to control my mind.”


    1. My only knowledge of this sort of thing comes from a couple semesters in college, so I don’t know how true this still is… but I was amazed, as a physical science major, at how culturally-dependent psychology is. Self-flagellation, for example, would definitely signal a disorder in American culture, but not in others. Similarly, God sending you messages through dreams or through scenes in nature might be perfectly o.k., but God sending you messages through your TV is a problem. Somehow I expected psychology to be A) more confidently rooted in physiology and B) to be universal across all humans the same way atomic physics is the same for all humans. Turns out to be much messier and more complicated.

      1. Wouldn’t it be much more astounding if psych manifestations were cross-culturally identical? That would practically require metaphysical apparatus that would get Jung off…

        The cultural specificity is also enhanced by the fact that(as the human brain is… not exactly… a machine for discerning objective truth, ‘believing what your parents and similar figures taught you, and what passes for common knowledge’ is hard to meaningfully classify as a psych disorder, though it almost always involves beliefs that, if you arrive at them in some other way, would qualify as stark raving crazy.Incidentally, though, shadowy-persecution-at-a-distance seems to be a relatively old flavor, though the shadowy persecutors certainly upgrade their technology from time to time(oddly enough, generally as popular beliefs about available technology change….)

        1.  See, I like it here specifically because that kind of conversation occurs with this kind of story.

    2. My computer talks to me, but all that it ever seems to say is, “Your video will begin after the ad.”

      1. For me it’s mostly “jdownloader is requesting your attention.” Also, sometimes it appears to read my calendar and refers to specific, current items.

  3. I am most disturbed by the fact that CBS Sacramento sees it as worthy to interview a person with clear mental issues.

    1. And BB sees it as worthy to post a story about the man with the interesting mental disorder so that people who can still claim ownership of their internal monologues might be momentarily entertained. I don’t see much of  difference there, myself.

      1. What I interpreted when I read this story was that BoingBoing was making a political statement about the fact that this man was subject to arrest, but not receiving the actual help he clearly needs. There is something wrong with a system that works like that. 

        What would have happened if we had universal healthcare in the US and this man got the drugs he needed to not hear those voices? That would be novel!

        1. I think that’s probably the more charitable take on it, yes. Yesterday I was a bit miffed by the predictable “Tin foil hat hurr hurrr”-style wit within the first few comments, and that colored my own response.

  4. Apparently the messages are screaming: “Call 911 … Call 911 … Call 911 … “

    1. You couldn’t ask for a more literal or straightforward “call for help.” I hope he finds it.

  5. Back when the web was young, it was great fun to find pages set up by high-functioning schizophrenics to let us know about mind control rays, brain implants, and the like.

    But after a while . . . . as haineux notes, “all different, all with the same story.” There is a terribly sad sameness to the crazy.

    “OOOOH, but what about CCTV cameras and web tracking cookies and Echelon! Maybe these crazy people are the wisest ones of all!”

    Uh,  no. There is a big difference between some bureaucratic wiretapping system and the logic-stretching theories of a desperate, fearful person trying to find an explanation of the voices in their head and the terror induced by a brain whose pattern-recognition circuits have gone haywire.

  6. Sounds like classic schitzophrenia, and pretty severe to boot. It’s going to take more than counselling to pull him back from the brink.

    1. As I understand it, these cases are frequently treatable with drugs.  However the drugs are expensive and people with mental problems often have difficultly holding down a job and are without insurance or money. 

      1. It makes me sad he can’t access what he needs. I was just speaking to one of my patients with schizophrenia who was recently discharged after a inpatient stay of several months. I was talking about how much effort the team had put in to help him have a good life (he was genuinely grateful) and he said he guessed his inpatient stay would have cost about $200 a week. I suggested it was more like $1000 a day. Lucky for him he lives in New Zealand and gets this assistance at no additional cost (other than the taxes he’s paid all his life).

    1. It’s not just a lack of compassion, it doesn’t even rise to the level of ‘callous; but pragmatic.’

      Neither police nor prisons are especially well suited to dealing with the mentally ill(though they often end up in that role), so their odds of dissuading him by anything short of imprisonment are very poor, and any imprisonment that does result will likely be deeply unpleasant for all involved.

      1. There are two problems with somehow solving the issue by getting the guy counseling.

        First, like you say, the cops’ traditional role is to deal with crime, not to deal with mental illness. (However, a lot of police departments now realize that they’re often the first point of contact for problems stemming from mental illness, and are training police officers to deal with the mentally ill, as well as forming partnerships with mental health agencies. Wonder if Sacramento PD does either.)

        The second problem is, if this guy isn’t an immediate danger to himself or others, there’s no way to make him go to counseling or get on medication.

        1. It isn’t a terribly new thing Archive.org has a 1960 video with New Orleans PD attempting to first-respond to psych cases. I have no idea where Sacramento happens to be today; but somebody had already produced a documentary on the matter 50+ years ago…

          1. Good for them. Where I live, it is a relatively new thing (i.e. within the last 15 years or so) that the cops actually gave some of their members specialized training in how to deal with the mentally ill, and formed a partnership with the county so that they could call out mental health workers as needed.

            Of course, that usually happens in crisis situations (such as mentally ill people threatening to commit suicide or some other violent act), and probably wouldn’t apply to a guy who just won’t quit dialing 9-1-1.

          1. That is, unfortunately, also the case where I live. It used to be that, if you felt like you were having serious mental problems, but not serious enough to be forcibly committed, you could check yourself into a state-run mental institution — they’d even give you a free bus ride there. About 20 years ago, the state closed it and turned its occupants out on the street. We’ve got a lot of prison space, though. Priorities.

            When I worked at 9-1-1, we had a teenager with a mental disability who used to call 9-1-1 incessantly. I don’t remember all the details clearly, but it was different from the subject of this post. He wasn’t an adult, and he wasn’t hearing voices. He was doing it because his dad (his sole caretaker) was at work and he was home alone. Calling us up apparently gave him something to do. It seemed like it took years until he finally stopped calling.

  7. A woman from Louisville, KY who ran for mayor had similar delusions. Her name is Connie Marshall.  She has kept a running log of her “attacks” at justiceforallcitizens.com.  I sort of feel bad for her because he mental illness must make for horrible daily life.

  8. Dear David/Boing Boing, 

    Thank you for treating people with a devastating, life-destroying illness with such sensitivity and understanding! 

    It’s really great to see people treat the mentally ill with the ridicule and abuse they deserve. Who wants to hear about a crumbling, underfunded public health system that barely serves a vulnerable population? Boring! Look, they think they are being mind controlled! Haha! 

    I’m looking forward to your next series of posts about people with Down’s syndrome saying the most funny things. There must be some CBS news affiliate out there reporting on this.

  9. Just reading the headline made me think of Roger Water’s concept album Radio K.A.O.S., but the story doesn’t really match anything here to much even though you haven’t heard the album check it out, a mentally and physically disabled man does feel radio waves in his head, but he is able to manipulate them to almost start World War III.

    After reading the next thing that came to me was Consumertronics, I remember back in the 80s they ran ads in Computer Shopper for plans all kinds of crazy devices.  About a month ago, while searching for some biofeedback equipment I found their website, which is pretty much still stuck in the 90s.  I couldn’t find it quickly in the mess of a site: http://www.consumertronics.net but they have sections devoted to helping you detect if you’ve had something implanted in you and what to do.

  10. Yep all of those corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the top earners really have helped society out.
    Once upon a time there was a system to help people with these kinds of problems.
    Then corporations said they could run them better, then we saw they turned into warehouses to keep them out of sight out of mind and closed them.

    Maybe it is time we as a society stop spending so much time/effort/money on imaginary problems and actually go back to caring about each other as humans.  We are spending huge amounts of money on military tech the military leaders don’t want and don’t need to make some congresscritters constituents happy, but we can’t have programs to help the most vulnerable in our society without knockdown screaming fights and funding cuts.

  11. Remember that story a week or two ago about the woman who supposedly slapped a deputy so she could stop smoking (in jail)? I don’t think most mentally ill people intentionally do it this way, but jails and prisons are the largest provider of mental health treatment in the US, treating more people than hospitals.

  12. These are typical Schneiderian first rank symptoms of schizophrenia. It should not have received publicity, subjecting this poor man to ridicule when he is under-treated.

  13. Haven’t you folks heard of the Martha.Mitchell effect?

    See Jimmy Shao’s explanation for why here:


    And eery similarity to Rex Niles:


    Small round up of similar practices here (including the likely real cause, not satellites but a drug like mefloquine) as well as origin of the name of the phenomenon:


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