What is a Stockholm Syndrome?

Stockholm syndrome is a condition often observed with abused or battered women, male or female in captivity, hostages, abused children, concentration camp prisoners, prisoner of wars, situations where females are controlled well by their spouses in relationships. The condition of stockholm syndrome is also seen in cult members or incest victims. In this stockholm syndrome, the victims fall in love as a survival strategy with their captors. Observations reveal that the victims seem to have a strong attachment or bond with their captors despite their captor's ill treatment towards their victims.

There are some components which are observed by researchers that lead to the development of stockholm syndrome or capture-bonding and they are as follows:

  • The hostage or the victim develops positive feelings towards the captor.
  • The captive and the captor do not have any previous relationship.
  • Refusal of the captives or hostages to co-operate with government authorities like police forces after coming out if the hostage situation.
  • The hostage believes in the humanity of their captors.

Stockholm syndrome is a kind of mental ailment and it is observed that even if the captive is freed from the captor, the condition persists in the person suffering from the illness.

What is a Stockholm Syndrome?

Causes of Stockholm Syndrome

Though the exact reason for the cause of stockholm syndrome is complicated. However, a period of research has led to the understanding of several factors that can cause stockholm syndrome.

The factors that can cause stockholm syndrome are as follows:

  • When the hostages feel that their kidnapper does them a favor by not killing them. This makes the hostages see their captor positively and may cause stockholm syndrome.
  • If those who are kidnapped are treated sympathetically and if the victims are provided with a good environment by their captors then the hostages begin to see the captors favorably. Usually, kidnappers are expected to treat their victims harshly and cruel behavior generates a sense of hatred. While a kinder treatment of the captives generates a sense of empathy towards the captors and may cause stockholm syndrome.
  • Those kidnapped or captured are isolated from the external world. This helps to make them see the kidnapper's viewpoint. It may be so that the kidnapped entities begin comprehending the circumstances in which the captor was forced to commit such crime. Because of which, the captives often help their kidnapper and become sympathetic to the captors, their causes.
  • Often the kidnapped individuals and in most instances women start developing a kind of physical/emotional attachment with the kidnappers or abductors. When the captive and the kidnapper live together for many days, the two different persons come close together. Then they start sharing their interests and this may lead to stockholm syndrome.
  • The abducted people and in this case, mostly women, develops a habit of appeasing their kidnappers. Initially, captured woman is forced to please the captor. They are imprisoned, ensured that they do not flee and forced to please the abductors to escape harsh punishment or murder. When it becomes a habit then the behavior stays despite the absence of the force.
  • When a woman is abducted, initially that person may try to escape from the clutches of the abductor. However, if that individual fails then over a period of time she develops a kind bondage and dependency on their abductors. This often happens if the abductors do not have close family members. If the abductor has murdered the victim's relatives, then the victim feels helpless and she needs the abductor for food as well as shelter. This turns into a necessity despite there is no threat from the abductor's end.

Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition and it has its symptoms. Some of the symptoms are described as follows:

  • Showing admiration and love for the kidnappers or abductors is a symptom of stockholm syndrome.
  • Resist rescue attempts by the police
  • Defend the kidnappers
  • Try to please the abductors
  • Refuse to testify against the captors
  • Refuse to run away from the kidnappers or abductors.

Treatment for Stockholm Syndrome

The Stockholm syndrome is a condition which is developed from extreme fear and acute stress. Stockholm syndrome is a condition which separates an individual from his or her relatives and loved ones. If a person who was earlier abducted & later released and is suffering from Stockholm syndrome then the most effective treatment for stockholm syndrome is medical counseling by the psychiatrists as well as love and support by the family members. It is understood that with expert guidance, love, support, patience an individual suffering from stockholm syndrome can get rid of it after a period of time.

Risk Factors for Stockholm Syndrome

The stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition. As far as risks of the syndrome are concerned however, it does not have any direct death threat. There are certain risks of the syndrome that cannot be ignored.

In this syndrome, the victim falls in love with the captor or abductor. This leads to an estrangement in the relationship between the victim and her family members. Most family members do not wish their beautiful daughters to be kidnapped/abducted by strangers or suffer from stockholm syndrome.

Another risk that such syndrome has that it forces the society to endorse antisocial activities like forced kidnappings and so on. A victim suffering from stockholm syndrome does not cooperate with the law enforcement agencies, the police and so on and this leads to more such crimes taking place.

People who are at risk of stockholm syndrome are:

  • Abused kids
  • Abused/Battered females
  • Captives of war
  • Incest sufferers
  • Criminal hostage conditions
  • Concentration camp captives
  • Intimidating/Controlling relationships
  • Cult members.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 13, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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