Stockholm Syndrome

The Stockholm Syndrome (also known as capture–bonding) can be regarded as a form of traumatic bonding. It is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.

If one tries to explain the effect of Stockholm syndrome it can be suggested that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself. When a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be a threat.
Although the syndrome is named after the Swedish capital Stockholm, the most famous case was Patty Hearst (1954), an American newspaper heiress, socialite, actress, kidnap victim, and convicted bank robber. She is the granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst and gained fame in 1974 when she joined the so-called Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) after they had kidnapped her.

Battered-person syndrome is another example of activating the capture–bonding psychological mechanism, as are military basic training and fraternity bonding by hazing (the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group).

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