Meaning of Stockholm Syndrome

What is Stockholm Syndrome:

The Stockholm syndrome is used to identify the psychological reaction of some hostages towards their kidnappers, whose forced coexistence makes them develop affection and solidarity towards them.

Typically, this type of psychological reaction occurs when the abductor does not exert direct violence on the victim, such as physical abuse, which the hostage often misinterprets as a gesture of humanity.

Due to the shock emotionally, the abducted person makes the violence represented by the deprivation of liberty invisible, in order to assess the absence of physical violence and take it as a positive sign.

Stockholm syndrome is not a disease but a post-traumatic effect, which is why it does not appear in the books of psychiatric diseases.

Not all people are susceptible to this syndrome. Some previous experiences can make it easier. Among them, experiences of intimate partner violence, family violence, repeated sexual abuse, members of sects or fraternities, prisoners of war, etc.

Origin of the term

The term was coined in 1973 after the famous episode of the attack on the Stockholm Credit Bank, in Sweden. During this assault, the criminals took four employees hostage for six days.

At that time, one of the hostages, named Kristin Enmark, developed a relationship of solidarity and affection with her abductor, ending up cooperating with the situation. They called this phenomenon "Stockholm syndrome."

Years later, Enmark publicly acknowledged that her reaction was inconsistent, but attributed it to an unconscious way of protecting herself.

It was only the year after the Stockholm hijacking that the expression became popular. In 1974 Patricia Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbiotic Liberation Army. Hearst's relationship with her kidnappers reached such an extreme that, after being released, she joined her captors and participated in a bank robbery. From there, the term spread massively.

Domestic Stockholm syndrome

We speak of domestic Stockholm syndrome to refer to the psychological reaction of affection that a person develops towards his partner when he is a victim of repeated violence.

Due to the ambivalent characteristics of the relationship, the person attacked develops a strong emotional bond with his aggressor that makes him justify his actions. This prevents him from becoming aware of the violence and abnormality in which he lives.

Although in this case there is violence, it is called domestic Stockholm syndrome because the person voluntarily submits to "captivity" and normalizes the situation in which they live.

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