You must have watched movies like Highway(2014), Three Days Of The Condor (1975), Buffalo ‘66 (1998), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), where an abused victim starts developing a bond with an abuser specially when they are captivated for a longer period of time. This condition is called Stockholm syndrome
What is Stockholm syndrome ?
The name of the Stockholm Syndrome is derived from a botched bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden also known as Norrmalmstorg robbery. It happened
In August 1973, four employees of Sveriges Kreditbank were held hostage in the bank's vault for six days. During the standoff, a seemingly incongruous bond developed between the captive and the captor.
Why does this condition occur?
Dr. Kirti Bajpai, Psychologist Counselor from Gurugram says “Stockholm Syndrome creates an emotional connection which victims of abuse or hostages develop towards their offenders over a period of time.” She added “this psychological condition occurs when a victim stays with an abuser for a longer time over the course of days, weeks, months or even year's of captivity or abuse.”
Victims actually start empathizing and develop positive feelings towards their own wrongdoers to an extent where they may even react negatively or start violence against authorities like police or anyone who will try to get them away from their captor.
Dr. Bajpai mentioned “this syndrome is also known as terror or trauma bonding coming from the victims own basic survival instinct where they unconsciously try to form a bond with their abusers in order to survive. And even feel grateful for small acts of kindness shown to them.”
What are the causes of Stockholm syndrome ?
Here are some of the causes of stockholm syndrome stated by Dr. Kirti Bajpai:
Abusive Relationship: individuals may develop positive feelings and emotional attachment to their abuser in case of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Over a period of time, the victim is empathetic towards the abuser and they feel the abuser is doing right.
Child Abuse-In this abusers threaten their victims harm them physically even threaten them with death. The abuser sometimes may show some kindness which may be perceived as a genuine feeling. Victims often remain confused but may try to avoid upsetting their abuser
Sex Trafficking -Victims in sex trafficking depend on their abusers for basic necessities like food, water etc.When these necessities are provided to them these abusers develop positive feelings towards their abusers. In fear of protecting themselves and their abusers, they do not cooperate with the police and accept violence.
.Sports Coaching - Harsh coaching techniques sometimes become abusive. As the victim may think that the harsh behavior of the coach is for their own good and in such cases they accept physical violence.
Other reasons could be that the captor treats its victims humanely and spends some time with them without harming them which can help them develop a bond between the captor and the captive. Also at times the captives feel that the police or other authorities do not have their best interest at heart and may not be able to come for their rescue.
What is the treatment for Stockholm syndrome ?
It is not particularly an official mental disorder and dr. gives relief to all the patients by mentioning that “the good news is that it is treatable.” here is what doctor suggests:
Seeking help from a Psychologist can help in understanding the cognitive dissonance and help victims have a better understanding of their concerns.