What to Do If you were Held as a Hostage (Stockholm syndrome) for a Period of time?

What is Stockholm Syndrome?

For the past many years a lot of research has been done on Stockholm syndrome, this is a psychological condition where hostage develops an emotional bond with their captors. Emotion and affection are vital elements of human functioning that helps in self-development and esteem. This contributes in developing a sense of care in individual towards each other, which leads to the survival of the species.  When two individuals are trapped in situation where they do not have any control on their fate and feel that they are highly prone of facing physical harm, then in this condition the way they reflect psychological response is known as Stockholm syndrome. The response includes emotional sympathy towards the captors.

What to Do If you Were Held as a Hostage (Stockholm Syndrome) for a Period of Time?

What to Do If you Were Held as a Hostage (Stockholm Syndrome) for a Period of Time?

Experts believe that if a person was held as a hostage for a period of time and proved to be suffering from Stockholm syndrome then he/ she should be taken to an experience psychotherapist to the earliest. This is so because psychotherapists are trained professional who know how to deal with Stockholm syndrome in the most effective manner. Further, they have a steady and strategic approach towards the problem of Stockholm syndrome. An experienced psychotherapist know how patient of Stockholm syndrome behave in different situations, hence; accordingly they develop treatment plan. There are many psychotherapists but one should look for the one who is experienced with handling Stockholm syndrome cases.

In case of Stockholm syndrome where patients show strange response, it is the emotional attachment and affection that helps in the healing process. It is very important that doctor first gain the trust of the patient and make him/her feel safe with them. There are many therapies that helps in this regards but CBT i.e. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is considered as the most popular and effective therapy for any kind of trauma such as Stockholm syndrome. This basically is a talking therapy that helps patients in handling their problem and also change the way they think. Most of the people believe that CBT therapy is helpful in treating depression and anxiety but it is equally helpful in treating any sort of mental health issues such as Stockholm syndrome.    

The method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Stockholm syndrome works on the concept that feelings, thoughts, actions and sensations are all interconnected. Negative thoughts and feeling of insecurity traps a person’s thinking ability. Concept of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps patients to deal with their issues in a positive way by breaking the problems in small parts. Experts help in diverting negative feelings for constructive work. One of the distinguishing factors of concept of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that it deals with the current issues and does not take the past issues into consideration. Other than Stockholm syndrome, CBT is also very effective in treating following problems:

It is suggested to have minimum two sessions of CBT with psychotherapists every week for treating Stockholm syndrome. In all almost 20 sessions are recommended for complete recovery where each session last between 45-60 minutes depending on the severity of Stockholm syndrome. Before starting the session psychotherapists first learn about the problem in detail and then prepare a strategy to break the issue in several small parts and in each session they work on each part. Initially it takes times to build trust between psychotherapists and the patient but in due course of time as the sessions proceeds patient starts to open up with the psychotherapists. This indeed helps in removing all the barriers to convert negative emotions into positive ones. One thing that is very important for CBT for Stockholm syndrome to become a success is that patient should also be involved in the process. In simple words we can say that it is a two way process where both patient and psychotherapist need to work together, detachment of any of the two can make the therapy for Stockholm syndrome less or ineffective.


Researchers have revealed that the best way to cope with Stockholm syndrome is by keeping the mind alert and understanding the reality. Usually patient of Stockholm syndrome constantly live with a feeling in insecurity thinking that they will be physically harmed anytime by anyone. They lose their faith from everyone, hence; it is very important that friends and family members of the patient should make them feel safe and loved.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 28, 2017

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