The Development and Implications of the Stockholm Syndrome
TheDevelopment and Implications of the Stockholm Syndrome
TheDevelopment and Implications of the Stockholm Syndrome
Incrisis, individuals can develop conditions that help the offendersadvance their criminal activities. Such a situation makes it hard forpolice officers to intervene appropriately or cultivate approachesthat will help to inhibit negative aspects associated with thepredicament. Harmening (2013) posit that officers should have anextensive understanding of real-life situations as well as possessqualities that ensure tackling a crisis. For example, abducted peopleattempt to engage their kidnappers to avoid harsh treatment, butdoing so benefits the offender. According to Julich and Oak (2016),Stockholm syndrome denotes a traumatic connection where a victimassociates with and sometimes supports the offender to survive theunpredictable or violent actions committed. Nils Bejerot, a Swedishcounselor and criminologist devised the term “Stockholm Syndrome”after police in Stockholm requested him to assist them in analyzingvictims’ reactions and status as captives after bank robbery in1973 (Julich & Oak, 2016). Nils condensed the captives’reactions to an impact of experiencing persuasion or brainwashdirected by kidnappers. He called the condition “Normalmstorgssyndrome” in Swedish, which was later changed to Stockholminternationally. Scholars often consider these feelings irrational inpresence of the risk and danger endured by the captives. This essaywill provide an in-depth explanation of the development of thecondition, the symptoms that define its incidence as well as thesituations or conditions that shape the its progression.
TheDevelopment of Stockholm Syndrome
Thecondition develops in hostage or abusive situations where the victimdevelops sympathetic elements towards the abuser or captor.Researchers have found the disorder in prisoners of war, abused orbattered women, camp convicts, intimidated partners, hostages, cultmembers, and incest victims. Lee and Elkins (2014) call the conditionan illogical relationship between a captor and a captive in which thevictim exhibits a strong sense of emotional or physical bonding tothe offender. In an extraordinary and traumatic stressful situation,people might usually find themselves held hostage by an individualwho is threatening or willing to kill them if they fail to obey. Theperpetrator may abuse the hostage sexually, verbally, or physically,which leaves the victim with a limited thinking capacity.
Thehostages know that escape is not the best option because if they tryto escape they will end up dead and probably cause the death of theirfamilies thus, the only way to survive is to remain obedient. Thismeans that the victims appease the perpetrators, which can become ahabit and eventually develop into a Stockholm syndrome. As timepasses by, obedience alone turns out to be less important in ensuringthe safety of the hostage (Lee & Elkins, 2014). This is becausethe captors are also under stress and any change in their attitudecan led to harmful impacts to the hostages. Therefore, the victimpresume that the captor will at one time become violent hence, toavoid triggering such elements, the person starts to cultivate apsychical or emotional attachment as a survival strategy (Concannon,2013). A small act of kindness can be depicted by the captor. Forinstance, the captor may decide not to kill the prisoner immediately,which position the offender as a savior. This means that the victimswill perceive the failure to kill or abuse them by the captive as anact of compassion forcing them to cultivate a bonding with theoffender.
Inharrowing life-threatening situations in which hostages findthemselves in the smallest act of kindness shown by the kidnapper orthe abrupt absence of violence, they will display numerous aspects offriendship to further avoid abuse (Harmening, 2013). With the passageof time, it becomes increasingly easy for the victim to sympathizewith the captor creating a perfect leeway for the development ofStockholm syndrome. Kidnappers may seem to be less threatening, whichmake them become an instrument of protection and survival rather thanbeing a harmful one. This situation makes the captive to undergoself-delusion by failing to recognize the situation (Concannon,2013). This process enables the prisoner to survive both physical andpsychological stress through reducing the unthinkable stress of thecondition. The hostage starts to believe that the imprisoner is afriend and will not kill. In addition, this disorder makes thehostage think that the police will only worsen the situation hence,most victims with the condition tend to side with the captor.
Symptomsof Stockholm Syndrome
Justlike crisis syndromes, Stockholm has its symptoms, however,psychologists have not clearly recognized well-defined examplesbecause of varying opinions. Some of the known symptoms includepositive victim’s feeling toward the controller or abuser, negativevictim’s feelings towards friends, authorities, or family memberswho are trying to support or rescue them or even win their release,and supporting the behaviors or reasoning of the kidnapper. Moreover,the presence of abuser’s positive feelings towards the hostagemakes them to develop Stockholm syndrome. It is imperative to notethat a victim may develop supportive behavior towards the abductor toan extent of helping them at times as well as cultivate an inabilityto depict behaviors that may help or support in their detachment orrelease (Julich & Oak, 2016).
Causesof Stockholm Syndrome
Numerousfactors are usually necessary for the development of this syndrome.The period of a crisis increases the incidence of the condition. Forexample, it is easy for people to show symptoms of Stockholm syndromeif they have been abducted for seven days than when they have beencaptives for two days. In situations where kidnappers remain incontact with their hostages, the condition will usually develop(Julich & Oak, 2016). Victims will tend to develop emotional orphysical bonding with the abductors since living together fornumerous days will bring them together and in some scenarios, startsharing common interests. If captors depict some signs of kindnesstoward their victims by refraining from hurting them, the victimswill feel that the perpetrators are doing them a favor. It issignificant to point out that when a captor treats a victim in asympathetic manner, the person will perceive the offender as verykind since one would expect the perpetrator to be harsh and cruel.
Moreover,individuals who are greatly secluded from the world will usually seethe viewpoint of the offender thus, start to comprehend thesituations that may have affected them to commit the crime (Lee &Elkins, 2014). In this regard, the victims will attempt to help theabductor as well as become friendly or sympathetic to their causes.Individuals can develop symptoms of the syndrome, if they suffer fromelements of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) such as difficultyin concentrating, nightmares, flashbacks, increased distrust, andconfusion (LaViolette & Barnett, 2013). When individuals havebeen abducted they will try to please the offender as a necessity toescape murder or cruel treatment. However, if they are held for manydays, it can become a habit creating an emotional bonding. However,it is imperative to note that the condition cannot develop insituations where the perpetrator verbally or physically abuses thevictim. This means that the victim must perceive the captor as a kindperson to develop the bond.
Exampleof Stockholm Syndrome Situations
Althoughthere exist numerous instances regarding the development of thecondition, Patty Hearst’ case provides the best example because itextended beyond the hostage situation. This shows that a victim canshow sympathy that can eventually lead to a deep connection or love.Moreover, some abductors can brainwash their victims, especially asusually happens in cult membership, which makes the captive perceivethe abductor as their protector. After Patty Hearst, who was WilliamRandolph Hearst’s granddaughter, was held hostage in 1974 bySymbionese Liberation Army she was recorded by her kidnappersdenouncing her family and authorities after changing her name toTania. Later she was seen working together with the SLA urbanguerilla group to rob San Francisco’s corporate banks. People alsosaw her publicly asserting her compassionate towards the group andtheir pursuits (LaViolette & Barnett, 2013). After her arrest in1975, her lawyer tried to plead Stockholm syndrome but did not work.However, Patty was released after President Bill Clinton overturnedher seven-year sentence, after he was told that she did not committhe crime under her free will.
Diagnosisand Treatment of the Condition
Formalresearch of the condition is difficult because it is hard to collectsamples to define its incidence. Furthermore, psychologists have notmanaged to formally classify the condition in a psychiatric handbook,for example, in international classification structure or DSM-IV(Åse, 2015). It is challenging to diagnose the condition sinceresearchers have failed to identify all the elements that put anindividual at a great threat. Moreover, psychologists have divergentopinion on the mechanism of the syndrome since some believe it is aform of retrogression or emotional paralysis. Mostly, psychiatristsuse post trauma disorder or acute stress disorder diagnostic criteriawhen evaluating Stockholm syndrome (Åse, 2015). The conditionrequires psychiatric therapy since the development of anxiety andfear within the victim leads to the cultivation of the bond. It isimperative to note that people mistake the action of a perpetratorfailing to abuse or kill as an act of kindness thus, they develop adynamic emotional bonding with the captor. Although psychologistshave not formally recognized the condition as psychologicaldiagnosis, therapists use PTSD treatment criteria with a combinationof medicine to treat short-term sleep disturbances as well aspsychotherapy to manage long-term symptoms (Åse, 2015). Thecondition develops against the backdrop of love, bonding, fear,anxiety, and isolation hence, any therapy that considers theengagement of the victim will work.
Thebonding between captor and victim is a survival strategy for thehostage. Psychologists believe that this syndrome develops after thevictims mistake the captor’s actions of not abusing or killing themas a kindness act. This occurs due to anxiety and fear with theemotions developed resulting in strong attachments. The conditionoccurs during life threatening situations when time spent togetherwith the kidnapper is long. For the disorder to develop there must bea presence of a supposed threat to one’s psychological or physicalsurvival, perceived small kindness, isolation from outsideperspectives, and the imagined inability to escape.
Åse,C. (2015). Crisis Narratives and Masculinist Protection: Genderingthe Original Stockholm Syndrome. InternationalFeminist Journal of Politics, 17(4),595-610.
Concannon,D. M. (2013). Kidnapping:An Investigator’s Guide.Newnes.
Harmening,W. M. (2013). CrisisIntervention: The Criminal Justice Response to Chaos, Mayhem, andDisorder.Pearson Higher Ed.
Julich,S. J., & Oak, E. B. (2016). Doesgrooming facilitate the development of Stockholm syndrome? The socialwork practice implications. AotearoaNew Zealand Social Work, 28(3),47.
LaViolette,A. D., & Barnett, O. W. (2013). Itcould happen to anyone.Sage.
Lee,H., & Elkins, T. (2014). Sympathy and anger: the role ofattributions in emotional responses to abusive supervision.In Individualsources, dynamics, and expressions of emotion (pp.53-67). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
No related posts.