If you are a movie buff, you must have watched the movies like Dog Day Afternoon, Three Days of the Condor, Buffalo, and even the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast.
So, what is common in all these movies?
Their protagonists suffered from Stockholm syndrome.
What is Stockholm syndrome?
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response resulting when an abuse victim or a hostage starts to bond with their abuser/captor. It happens when they have been in captivity for a long time.
This condition is a little threatening. It is because the clear demarcation between danger and comradeship stops existing. There is a belief that Stockholm syndrome is typically associated with high-profile kidnapping and hostage situations.
Stockholm syndrome has a History
Have you ever wondered where did the term Stockholm syndrome originate from?
A robbery took place in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1973. During the robbery, the robbers held four bank employees captive in a vault for more than five days. Something strange happened during the captivity as the hostages began to bond with their captors. It was because of their small acts of perceived kindness. Eventually, the captives started to fear the police more than the robbers. They even became resistant to the idea of rescue.
The behavior on the part of captives confused the police and general public. Not only this, even the captives wondered themselves. After numerous studies and research, psychiatrists linked such reaction to shell shock or a term used to describe post-traumatic stress. It further explained that the captives felt grateful to their abductors rather than the police.
This whole episode coined the word Stockholm syndrome.
Know the Symptoms of Stockholm syndrome
People who suffer from Stockholm syndrome may be experiencing the following symptoms.
- Positive feelings towards their captors.
- A feeling of sympathy for their captors’ behaviors and beliefs.
- Negative feelings towards the police or other authority figures.
- Other symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. They include flashbacks, feeling irritated, distrustful, jittery, anxious, unable to enjoy the things you previously enjoyed, and difficulty focusing.
What are the Causes of Stockholm syndrome?
Many researchers who have studied multiple cases of this syndrome could not establish an exact reason for the problem.
One of the theories suggests that this condition is a learned technique passed down from the ancestors to their children. In early civilization, there was a risk of being captured or killed by another group. As a result, bonding with captors increased their chances of survival. According to some evolutionary psychiatrists, this ancestral technique is a natural human trait.
Another theory states that the captive or abusive situation is highly emotionally charged. People adjust their feelings and begin to develop compassion for their abuser if they show some kindness towards them.
How to Treat the Condition?
Because Stockholm syndrome is not recognized as a psychological condition, it doesn’t have a standard treatment. One can resort to the same treatment methods as used for PTSD.
It is good to seek therapy as it may help you understand your experience. You may get to know how sympathetic behavior toward your captors was a survival skill. With the help of therapy, you can also learn to move forward with your life.
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