Surely you’ve ever heard of Stockholm syndrome, but do you know exactly what it refers to? Let’s look at the key aspects of this emotional disorder.
What is Stockholm syndrome?
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological reaction that develops when a kidnapped person or victim of abuse creates a bond with their kidnapper or abuser. The person develops a relationship of complicity and a strong affective bond towards the one who holds him against his own will.
People who suffer from this syndrome sympathize with their captors. Feelings of affection, admiration, respect, etc. are produced, the opposite of the terror, hatred, and contempt expected by the victims in situations as such. This condition can develop over years, months, weeks, or even in a matter of days.
Stockholm syndrome is not accepted as an official mental health diagnosis. In the most important manuals of psychiatry, such as the “International Classification of Diseases” and ” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders”, this syndrome is not recognized.
Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other professionals belonging to the world of medicine consider this emotional disorder as a survival mechanism, a coping strategy, or a strange way that victims use to manage the trauma of a situation of such magnitude.
This paradox, whose etiology is still unknown, is not very common to happen, in fact, in some cases, it is extremely difficult to try to understand it.
Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome
How does a person suffering from Stockholm syndrome feel? The most relevant symptoms developed are the following:
- Development of favorable and positive feelings towards your kidnapper or abuser, coming to cooperate with him.
- Development of feelings of rejection, resentment, and hatred towards the security forces, authorities, people who try to help her and keep her away from the kidnapper. The most frequent reaction is to refuse to collaborate with them against their kidnapper.
- Idealization of the figure of the captor, full of similarities, common causes. The victim believes that they share the same values, perceive their humanity, and defend them.
Why does this reaction develop?
Reacting sympathetically and developing empathy with the captor is mainly due to the misinterpretation of the absence of violence as an act of humanity on the part of the aggressor.
Did you know that about 27% of the victims of 4,700 kidnappings and sieges collected in the database of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) manifest this attitude?
How is Stockholm Syndrome treated?
People who have suffered or suffer from Stockholm syndrome need psychological therapy to treat this emotional disorder and overcome the drastic experience they have lived. The psychological session helps to understand what happened: the facts and the reasons that happened.
Professional care and accompaniment to victims are essential for a long period of time to prevent the appearance of other diseases such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress.
In this recovery process, victims learn healthy coping mechanisms and response tools to overcome the situation.
What is the origin of this name?
The name Stockholm syndrome to this emotional disorder dates back to August 1973 when Jan-Erik “Janne” Olsson robbed a bank in the city of Stockholm, Sweden.
When the police arrived, the thief took four hostages. Despite the risk to their lives and the threats they suffered from Olsson, the detainees defended and protected their captors.
The four hostages went so far as to claim that they fully trusted Jan-Erik, and that he did not frighten them, but that the one who really frightened them was the police.
The psychiatrist advisor to the Swedish police used the name of the city to name the psychological response that the hostages had.
Another famous case of Stockholm syndrome
Another curious case of Stockholm syndrome was the one starring Patricia Hearts in February 1974. The granddaughter of tycoon William Randolph Hearst was kidnapped by a left-wing American organization called the Symbionese Liberation Army.
The group’s request was for the Hearst family to donate a $6 million food parcel to be delivered to the poor.
Two months later, with no news of Patricia’s whereabouts, a photograph appeared robbing a bank branch with the group that kidnapped her.
Stockholm syndrome in fiction
This psychological reaction is so curious and generates so much interest that it has crossed the screen. A good example of this is the character of Stockholm from the Spanish series La casa de Papel aka Money Heist.
The series whose protagonists steal from the National Mint of Spain incorporates in its plot the psychological reaction of the Stockholm syndrome in the character of Monica Gaztambide. The kidnapped secretary becomes part of the gang with the name of that city.