Stockholm syndrome

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By Pabasara Jayakody

Instagram : @pretaesara_

Ever dreamt of getting kidnapped by a hot mafia boss who would treat you so well and buy you all the things you’ve dreamt of? No? Just me? Okay. We all have our embarrassing daydreams.

In reality, if you get kidnapped, that’s not going to be a good experience. No one plans it because after all the mafia isn’t gold and glitter. And mafia bosses aren’t hot dudes like in Wattpad who are willing to protect you at all costs. No. Imagine. You’re being taken away from everything you’ve known, without your consent, and being hostage. Many horrible things could happen to you. But do you think you would become fond of the person who kidnapped you? Like in the real world? That’s ridiculous!

Or is it?

It’s called Stockholm syndrome. It’s a psychological response when hostages or abuse victims come to sympathize with their captors. It could occur in days, weeks or months after being held captive. They may even resent anyone who’s trying to get them out of that situation.

According to many psychologists, it could also be a coping mechanism. Think about it. You’re stripped off of everything you’ve known, abused and harassed. Therefore it starts to tell you the situation you’re in is okay. And the person who’s doing these awful things to you isn’t bad.

How to know if someone is suffering from this mysterious syndrome? Well first of all they will start to develop positive feelings towards their captor. Second of all, they will start to develop a negative feeling towards anyone who’s trying to get them out of that situation. Third of all they start to think that their captor and they perceive the same goals and values.

Crazy right? Well, there’s a history of records that prove victims were suffering from Stockholm Syndrome in some famous high-profile kidnapping cases.

The case of kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst may be the most famous example of Stockholm syndrome. In 1974, she was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army and after 10 weeks of being held hostage, she helped them rob a bank.

After the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight847, the syndrome was also discussed. Although the passengers were held captive for more than two weeks, some were publicly sympathetic to their kidnappers’ demands after their release.

Another prime example was the kidnapping of Westerners in Lebanon by Islamist militants. Despite being held in solitary confinement and chained up in small, dirty cells, hostages Terry Anderson, Terry Waite, and Thomas Sutherland all alleged that they were treated well by their captors.

The survival instinct is the heart of Stockholm Syndrome. Psychologists believe that the bond is stimulated when the captor threatens a captive’s life but decides on keeping them alive. The captive’s relief at no longer being threatened with death is translated into gratitude toward the captor for saving his or her life.

Something to think about…

Do you think as humans, we all have the Stockholm Syndrome? Look at the symptoms and think about how we’re trapped on this earth under circumstances that we can’t change and we believe that we’re living a good life here…

Resources: Lambert, Laura. “Stockholm syndrome”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 10 Sep. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/science/Stockholm-syndrome. Accessed 21 March 2021.

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/stockholm-syndrome

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome

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