Saturday, April 01, 2006

The "Stockholm Syndrome"

The freed US journalist, Jill Caroll, said today that the statements made by her defending her Iraqi captors were 'manipulated.' Look here:
BBC: Freed US Journalist 'Manipulated'

In psychology, this is called the Stockholm Syndrome. The Stockholm Syndrome describes the behavior of kidnap victims who, over time, become sympathetic to their captors. The name dervies from a 1973 hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. In Augues of 1973, three women and one man were taken hostage during a bank robbery. Held captive in the bank vault for six days, the four hostages were both threatened and treated with kindness by the two men that held them hostage. Surprisingly, the hostages resisted rescue efforts by the authorities. After they were rescued, they publicly defended their hostage takers, even raising money for the legal defense of the two men. Two of the women held hostage eventually became engaged to their captors. After a number of similar incidents around the world during which hostages bonded with their captors, psychologists discovered that the Stockholm incident was not a lone occurrence. The emotional bonding between hostage and captor was such a common phenomenon among hostages, prisoners of war, victims of physical and emotional abuse, and cult members that scientists named the occurrence the "Stockholm Syndrome," after the 1973 incident.

What causes the Stockholm Syndrome? Captives begin to identify with their captors initially as a defensive mechanism, out of fear of violence. Small acts of kindness by the captor are magnified, since finding perspective in a hostage situation is by definition impossible. Rescue attempts are also seen as a threat, since it's likely the captive would be injured during such attempts. It's important to note that these symptoms occur under tremendous emotional and often physical duress.

The picture above is of the 2 of the hostages, along with their captor, Calrk Oloffson. You can read more about the bank robbery that led to the Stockholm Syndrome here.

- Assareh

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