Episode 230 S6-30
The Endless Night Ch 30
Stockholm Syndrome is a phenomenon that occurs when a captive develops a bond with their captor. The FBI database shows that this phycological condition results in 8% of victims. The first documented case of this condition occurred in 1973 when four hostages of a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, refused to testify against their captors and defended them.
Four key components are usually in place for Stockholm Syndrome to develop. The hostage develops positive feelings for the captor. There was no previous relationship. Once rescued the captive refuses to comply with law enforcement. The hostage believes in their captor and no longer perceives them as a threat.
There have been many examples of this happening throughout history. Mary McElroy was taken prisoner by four men who demanded compliance and chained her to a wall in an old farmhouse. After the rescue, she defended the men and eventually committed suicide, as a way to punish her rescuers for persecuting her captors.
Captured by the Symbionese Liberation Army, Patty Hearst, changed her name and worked for them.
A husband and wife team kidnapped Colleen Stan. Sleeping in a box under their bed, Colleen was raped and tortured for years. Eventually, her captors allowed her to socialize, and she even visited with her mother but she never tried to escape. The wife finally let her go to try to get her husband to correct his behavior.
Although the phenomenon happens more often with female captives, males show signs as well. Captivites, hostages, abused children, concentration camp prisoners, prisoners of war, victims of controlling spouses, cult members, or incest victims are often the ones vulnerable to the syndrome. Using love for survival causes Stockholm Syndrom. Developing these feelings is a defensive mechanism to protect the damaged individuals, so even when freed, the condition remains.
Victims feel the captors are benevolent because the torturer did not kill them. If the captors suddenly turn kind when compliance is received, the victims are much more likely to develop Stockholm Syndrome. The kidnapped people are isolated from the outside world reducing their view of the situation to that of the captor. Victims develop a habit of appeasing their captors to avoid torment. The forced behavior becomes a habit and continues even when force is not applied. If many escape attempts fail, the situation become more dire for the victim. They develop a dependency on their abductors. The captor provides for them and the victim does not receive necessities without complying with the demands of their captor. Often the situation is even worse if the victim does not have close family. The victim will be completely reliant upon the captor.
Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrom include showing admiration and love for abductors. They resist any rescue attempts. They will defend the captor and try to appease the abductors. They will not comply with law enforcement and refuse to flee from the captors.
To help someone with Stockholm Syndrome you have to understand that the condition stems from fear and stress. Separation from the outside world causes the state. Love and support from family and loved ones can heal it. It takes extreme guidance, love, support and patience. Often a psychotherapist will be needed. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or talking will help to change the victim’s thought pattern. Negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity will trap a person and stop their thinking ability. By breaking the problems into small bits and diverting negative emotions, healing can begin. Dealing with current issues will help to leave the problems in the past.
Stockholm Syndrome can cause long term problems like OCD, phobias, panic attacks, eating disorders, insomnia, alcohol consumption, and PTSD. The patient and the doctor need to work together to develop mutual trust and eliminate barriers. Keep a victim’s mind alert and understanding reality. Often they need support and think they can be hurt anytime by anyone. They lose faith in everyone, including friends and family. Loved ones need to rally and provide uncompromising emotional support.
Stockholm Syndrom would be a severe problem in a long term survival situation. Remember this is a survival strategy for victims. It is a necessary tactic for defending mentally and physically abusive relationships. The syndrome usually develops between individuals with power and their subordinates. The followers of tyrannical leaders will believe they are the best answer for survival. They will stick with that group even as things turn ethically questionable because they don’t see the benefits of another group. They will stay with that leader even when there is an opportunity to leave. The group members will make themselves believe that the leader has the best interests of the group in mind. They will want to appease this leader to get rewarded rather than deal with the abuse of not following along. It becomes learned helplessness. They believe that it is easier just to do whatever they want. The members may even feel sorry and pitty this tyrannical leader. There will be an unwillingness to leave and seek a better situation.
People with abusive backgrounds will be more likely to fall prey to tyrannical leaders. If someone becomes wrapped up with this type of individual, help them to see the truth by teaching them about Stockholm Syndrome. Don’t try to convince them that their leader is a villain. Degrading the captor will only cause the victim to defend them more. Listen without passing judgment. Don’t give the victim advice. Give them the power to make their own decisions with more information. Validate truths so they can’t disassociate with facts. Then identify what kind of hold the abuser is using to keep them captive and try to give that to them in another way.
Featured Quote From Today's Chapter:
"You'll be safe, trust me. I'll be right there with you."
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