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Stockholm Syndrome


Emotional bonds may be formed between captors and captives, during intimate time together, but these are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. Stockholm syndrome has never been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM, the standard tool for diagnosis of psychiatric illnesses and disorders in the U.S., mainly due to the lack of a consistent body of academic research.[4] The syndrome is rare: according to data from the FBI, about 8% of hostage victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome.[5]




Stockholm Syndrome



This term was first used by the media in 1973 when four hostages were taken during a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. The hostages defended their captors after being released and would not agree to testify in court against them.[4] It was noted that in this case, however, the police were perceived to have acted with little care for the hostages' safety,[6] providing an alternative reason for their unwillingness to testify. Stockholm syndrome is paradoxical because the sympathetic sentiments that captives feel towards their captors are the opposite of the fear and disdain which an onlooker might feel towards the captors.


Nils Bejerot, a Swedish criminologist and psychiatrist coined the term after the Stockholm police asked him for assistance with analyzing the victims' reactions to the 1973 bank robbery and their status as hostages. As the idea of brainwashing was not a new concept, Bejerot, speaking on "a news cast after the captives' release" described the hostages' reactions as a result of being brainwashed by their captors.[4] He called it Norrmalmstorgssyndromet (after Norrmalmstorg Square where the attempted robbery took place), meaning "the Norrmalmstorg syndrome"; it later became known outside Sweden as Stockholm syndrome.[8] It was originally defined by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to aid the management of hostage situations.[9]


Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publisher William Randolph Hearst, was taken and held hostage by the Symbionese Liberation Army, "an urban guerilla group", in 1974. She was recorded denouncing her family as well as the police under her new name, "Tania", and was later seen working with the SLA to rob banks in San Francisco. She publicly asserted her "sympathetic feelings" toward the SLA and their pursuits as well. After her 1975 arrest, pleading Stockholm syndrome (although the term was not used then, due to the recency of the event) did not work as a proper defense in court, much to the chagrin of her defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey. Her seven-year prison sentence was later commuted, and she was eventually pardoned by President Bill Clinton, who was informed that she was not acting under her own free will.[4]


An inversion of Stockholm syndrome, called Lima syndrome, has been proposed, in which abductors develop sympathy for their hostages. An abductor may also have second thoughts or experience empathy towards their victims.[14]


Lima syndrome was named after an abduction at the Japanese embassy in Lima, Peru, in 1996, when members of a militant movement took hostage hundreds of people attending a party at the official residence of Japan's ambassador.[15]


Victims of the formal definition of Stockholm syndrome develop "positive feelings toward their captors and sympathy for their causes and goals, and negative feelings toward the police or authorities".[4] These symptoms often follow escaped victims back into their previously ordinary lives.[16]


Robbins and Anthony, who had historically studied a condition similar to Stockholm syndrome, known as destructive cult disorder, observed in their 1982 study that the 1970s were rich with apprehension surrounding the potential risks of brainwashing. They assert that media attention to brainwashing during this time resulted in the fluid reception of Stockholm syndrome as a psychological condition.[18]


A 1998 report by the FBI containing over 1,200 hostage incidents found that only 8% of kidnapping victims showed signs of Stockholm syndrome. When victims who showed negative and positive feelings toward the law enforcement personnel are excluded, the percentage decreases to 5%. A survey of 600 police agencies in 1989, performed by the FBI and the University of Vermont, found not a single case when emotional involvement between the victim and the kidnapper interfered with or jeopardized an assault. In short, this database provides empirical support that the Stockholm syndrome remains a rare occurrence. The sensational nature of dramatic cases causes the public to perceive this phenomenon as the rule rather than the exception. The bulletin concludes that, although depicted in fiction and film and often referred to by the news media, the phenomenon actually occurs rarely. Therefore, crisis negotiators should place the Stockholm syndrome in proper perspective.[5]


A research group led by Namnyak has found that although there is a lot of media coverage of Stockholm syndrome, there has not been a lot of research into the phenomenon. What little research has been done is often contradictory and does not always agree on what Stockholm syndrome is. The term has grown beyond kidnappings to all definitions of abuse. It stated that there is no clear definition of symptoms to diagnose the syndrome.[19]


The DSM-5 is widely used as the "classification system for psychological disorders" by the American Psychiatric Association.[4] Stockholm syndrome has not historically appeared in the manual, as many believe it falls under trauma bonding or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and there is no consensus about the correct clarification. In addition, there is no extensive body of research or consensus to help solve the argument,[citation needed] although before the fifth edition (DSM 5) was released, Stockholm syndrome was under consideration to be included under 'Disorders of Extreme Stress, Not Otherwise Specified'.[4]


People have likely experienced this syndrome for a long time, but it was first named in 1973 by Nils Bejerot, a criminologist in Stockholm, Sweden. He used the term to explain the unexpected reaction hostages of a bank raid had toward their captor.


Stockholm syndrome is commonly linked to high profile kidnappings and hostage situations. Aside from famous crime cases, regular people may also develop this psychological condition in response to various types of trauma.


Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. This psychological connection develops over the course of the days, weeks, months, or even years of captivity or abuse.


With this syndrome, hostages or abuse victims may come to sympathize with their captors. This is the opposite of the fear, terror, and disdain that might be expected from the victims in these situations.


Many psychologists and medical professionals consider Stockholm syndrome a coping mechanism, or a way to help victims handle the trauma of a terrifying situation. Indeed, the history of the syndrome may help explain why that is.


Despite being well known, however, Stockholm syndrome is not recognized by the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual is used by mental health experts and other specialists to diagnose mental health disorders.


If you believe you or someone you know has developed Stockholm syndrome, you can find help. In the short term, counseling or psychological treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder can help alleviate the immediate issues associated with recovery, such as anxiety and depression.


Stockholm syndrome is not an official mental health diagnosis. Instead, it is thought to be a coping mechanism. Individuals who are abused or trafficked or who are the victims of incest or terror may develop it. Proper treatment can go a long way to helping with recovery.


Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition that occurs when a victim of abuse identifies and attaches, or bonds, positively with their abuser. This syndrome was originally observed when hostages who were kidnapped not only bonded with their kidnappers, but also fell in love with them.


Professionals have expanded the definition of Stockholm syndrome to include any relationship in which victims of abuse develop a strong, loyal attachment to the perpetrators of abuse. Some of the populations affected with this condition include concentration camp prisoners, prisoners of war, abused children, incest survivors, victims of domestic violence, cult members, and people in toxic work or church environments.


Anyone can be susceptible to Stockholm syndrome. Yes, there are certain people with abusive backgrounds that may be more likely to be affected, such as people with abusive childhoods; but any person can become a victim if the right conditions exist.


Battered partners or spouses are a prime example of Stockholm syndrome. Oftentimes, they are reluctant to press charges or initiate a restraining order, and some have attempted to stop police from arresting their abusers even after a violent assault.


Stockholm syndrome occurs when certain dynamics are at play, and it happens within particular circumstances. Following is a list of ingredients that can contribute to the development of the syndrome in individuals:


Being aware of the psychological underpinnings of Stockholm syndrome can help you understand how to best help someone with the condition. Its treatment is under-researched. While there is ample discussion of the legal ramifications of the disorder, very little has been written on how to help someone who has been affected. The bottom line, no matter what intervention you use to help someone who has this condition, is to remember to offer empathy always and coercion never.


If you think you or a loved one is experiencing Stockholm syndrome, a therapist may help you or them work through some of the steps to healing above. Start your search for the therapist best suited to helping you today. 041b061a72