Many of us heard about Stockholm syndrome, especially after it was broadcast from the Spanish series La Casa de Papel, a psychological state in which the victim sympathizes with the offender and constitutes positive feelings toward him, reflected the fear, terror and disdain expected of the victims in such situations.
Although collocations are usually associated with kidnappings and detentions, ordinary people may also be affected by them in response to different kinds of shocks.
Before we talk about the psychologists’ interpretation of this syndrome, and their ways of dealing with victims, do you know the history of the syndrome?
History of the Stockholm Syndrome
Stockholm Syndrome (Stockholm Syndrome) was not known to psychologists before 1974, and this behavior was certainly occurring before that date, but it was drawn and studied after a kidnapping incident Sweden knew at this date, and the conjured got its name from Sweden’s capital where the incident occurred.
The term is largely related to the name of American Lady Patti Hirst, a granddaughter of journalist William Randolph Hirst and heir of the California newspaper, who was abducted with others by a left-winged armed group that robbed a bank in Stockholm, and held all for 6 days in which the armed group negotiated with the victims’ families and official bodies.
The strange thing is that Hirst, who was 19 years old, was severely beaten until she lost consciousness, was detained in a closed room, remained blindfolded and handcuffed, and received death threats, and the kidnappers also coerced her family to distribute $70 of foodstuffs to all needy California residents. It is a process that will cost its family an estimated 400 million dollars.
Indeed, her father borrowed and donate $2 million in food to the poor in the Bay area, but that was not enough to release Hurst fast, and the stranger was that she showed sympathy for the kidnappers so much that she was involved.
This empathy arose after being allowed to go out for meals with the gang members without the blindfold, entering political discussions with the group, and even being involved in making bombs with the gang during her detention, and after the end of the two-months robbery, she officially announced her affiliation with the group, and was arrested with a member of the group. She was convicted of involvement in the bank’s theft, sentenced to 35 years in prison, commuted for seven years later, and finally received a presidential pardon from former US President Bill Clinton.
The point is that the girl then turned from a kidnapped victim to a member defending the abductors’ principles, an event that was repeated with other victims in other places, times and in different degrees between sympathy, to defense and participation in crimes.
The same accident witnessed sympathy of other detainees, as US journalist Daniel Lang interviewed New Yorker magazine with kidnapping victims to draw the full picture of kidnappers and prisoners, and the hostages spoke about receiving “good treatment” from the group’s kidnapper leader Jean Eric Olson.
Elizabeth Oldgren, a female employee in the bank who was suffering from claustrophobia, said she felt that Olson was kind to allow her to leave the cellar where she was imprisoned, although he left a rope around her neck.
That behavior was inspired by psychologists, who tried to explain the behavior of victims who were subjected to horrific threats, and under the impact of the shock, interpreted any simple act such as giving them food or allowing them to enter the toilet as a mercy from the source of the threat and then developing positive feelings towards them.
The Swedish criminal psychologist Nils Bijelot has developed a name for this behavior, and is known as the “Stockholm Syndrome”.
Symptoms of the Stockholm Syndrome
There are 3 main symptoms that characterize the Stockholm syndrome:
1. The victim Develops positive feelings toward the person who is detaining or mistreating them.
2. The victim develops negative feelings toward the police, the authority figures or any person who may try to help her stay away from her captors. THEY may even refuse to cooperate against their captors.
3. The victim begins to realize the humanity of her captor and believes that she has the same goals and values.
These emotions are usually caused by the very emotional situation that occurs during the assault. Some of the kidnappers feel threatened by their families, but they also rely heavily on them to stay alive, and if the abductor or the aggressor shows some kindness, they may begin to feel positive toward their captors. Here, survival instincts are at the heart of the syndrome.
Although Stockholm’s syndrome is generally associated with abductions and captors, it can apply to many other harmful relationships, such as some emotional relationships where physical and emotional abuse may occur.
In a study published in 2020, researchers found evidence that victims of domestic violence may also suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.
Treatment of those who are infected with the syndrome
The syndrome is still under study, so there is no clear uniform treatment for it, but psychotherapy for post-traumatic disorder, depressive disorder, and anxiety can help relieve the sense associated with the syndrome.
Long-term psychotherapy may help recovery, as it is important to help the victim understand how he feels, how he has acquired it, and how he can overcome it, especially as Stockholm syndrome is not an official diagnosis within mental health diseases.