Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response to a negative impulse. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. This psychological connection develops over the course of the days, weeks, months, or even years of captivity or abuse. With this syndrome, hostages or abuse victims may come to sympathize with their captives. This is the opposite of the fear, terror, and disdain that might be expected from the victims in these situations. Often, these feelings are displayed in the beginning, but due to the kindness they shower at times, the victim falls prey to the emotions exactly the opposite of what they feel or perhaps felt.
This paradox does not happen with every hostage or victim, and it’s unclear why it occurs when it does.
Many psychologists and medical professionals consider Stockholm syndrome a coping mechanism, or a way to help victims handle the trauma of the terrifying situation. Indeed, the history of the syndrome may help explain why that is and why the name.
Episodes of what is known as Stockholm syndrome have likely occurred for many decades, even centuries. But it wasn’t until 1973 that this response to entrapment or abuse came to be named. That’s when two men held four people, hostage, for 6 days after a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. After the hostages were released, they refused to testify against their captors and even began raising money for their defense. After that, psychologists and mental health experts assigned the term “Stockholm syndrome” to the condition that occurs when hostages develop an emotional or psychological connection to the people who held them in captivity.
Despite being well known, however, Stockholm syndrome is not recognized by the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Few of the symptoms of the Stockholm Syndrome are
- Victim developing a positive feeling and overall positive vibe and emotion towards the one holding them in captive or the one abusing them mentally or physically.
- Victim developing a negative approach and being pessimistic towards anyone who is helping them out of the negativity and the abuse they are in.
- The victim falls prey to the culprit’s sympathy and starts developing and showing humanity towards them
- The victim cannot escape the current situation they are stuck in as it would be the worst they could face.
Many times, we undergo the entire episode of the syndrome and don’t realize it. A few such incidents would be in cases where one is in an abusive relationship, be it sexual, physical or emotional. Sometimes, this takes the wrong turn of events and can even be Incest relationships and severe cases of child abuse. In cases of Child abuse, the victim is threatened harm, sometimes with even death. Abusers may also show kindness that could be perceived as a genuine feeling. This confuses the child and leads to them not understanding the negative nature of the relationship. Sometimes, the child presumes that this is how he/she is to be treated and comes to accept the worst as reality and believes to live only under such strong conditions. Sex trading is also one of the main reasons for such behavior. The victim often relies on the abuser for necessities and develops a strong bond of trust which they refuse to break, and are willing to protect their abuser and blame themselves for their mistakes. A few similar reasons would be sports coaching. Due to gruesome training with the coach, the student often falls to grow closer than reality and actuality with their coach and strike to be a clone of the coach.
Stockholm syndrome is a coping strategy. Fear or terror might be most common in these situations, but some individuals begin to develop positive feelings toward their captor or abuser. They may not want to work with or contact the police. They may even be hesitant to turn on their abuser or kidnapper. Stockholm syndrome is not an official mental health diagnosis. Instead, it is thought to be a coping mechanism. Proper treatment can go a long way to helping with recovery.