What is Stockholm syndrome? Mental illness is complicated

Stockholm syndrome is a rather complex psychological illness named after a famous bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden with 4 bank employees detained. However, a special thing is that all the victims have an emotional attachment to the kidnapper, even after being freed they stand up to protect the kidnapper and do not ask for help. government, media or police.

Stockholm syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a complex psychological state in which victims develop empathy for their abuser.

What is Stockholm syndrome?

Stockholm syndrome is also known as the abuse syndrome. This is a psychological reaction that takes place when victims of kidnapping appear psychologically connected, close, and attached to the person who takes advantage and holds them captive. In simple terms, the victim has a connection and is on the side of her abuser. This connection will be formed over the days, weeks, and years of being incarcerated. That is, from a state of fear, anxiety, and hatred to feelings of affection, sympathy, and grief. There are even cases where it is the victim who stands up to protect and develop the bad, evil qualities of the kidnapper.

After a period of incarceration, the victim can form positive feelings for the kidnapper and incarceration. They become empathetic and may appear hostile, resisting the help of the authorities, police or anyone who is trying to protect and free them from danger. This syndrome is very rare and occurs in only a few victims, it is estimated that about 8% of kidnapping victims have signs of this syndrome. And until now, scientists have not been able to find and determine the specific cause of the hostages suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

Accordingly, experts say that the patients are confusing the threatening behavior with the kindness of the kidnapper. In addition, this phenomenon is likely to develop in anyone who is in a “very close” relationship, but in which one person is threatened, insulted, abused the other.

History and famous cases of Stockholm syndrome

According to experts, Stockholm syndrome is most likely to have been formed decades earlier, there is even a theory that it has existed centuries ago. However, it was not until 1973 that the condition was identified and named by the psychiatrist Nils Bejerot.

Stockholm is the name given to a bank robbery that happened in Stockholm, Sweden. Specifically, on August 23, 1973, two robbers armed with machine guns stormed into a bank in Stockholm Sweden. These two men conduct continuous shooting to show their prestige and control the hostages, Jan-Erik Olsson is a recently escaped criminal who terrorizes the bank employees by saying: “The party has just begun. “.

Two robbers arrested four bank employees, including 3 women and 1 man. All the hostages were strapped with explosives and held in a bank vault for 131 hours. According to information, it was not until August 28, 1973 that the hostages were successfully rescued.

During the time being held in the bank’s vault, the hostages had to stay in an extremely tight space with 2 robbers. A special thing is that there is a very strange connection between them. The robber put a coat on the hostage when she was shaking, and comforted and encouraged her when she had a nightmare, even giving her a bullet as a souvenir.

The criminal also comforted the girl when she was constantly unable to contact her family, saying “Try again, don’t give up”. Not only that, when another hostage complained of fear, he also accepted to let her out of the cellar with a 30-foot rope. It was also the benevolent acts of the robber that created empathy and cohesion for the hostages. The hostages began to feel sympathy and assumed that the kidnapper was protecting him from the police.

That’s why, after all were rescued, everyone noticed the extremely strange attitude of the hostages towards the kidnapper and abuser in the past 5 days. In front of the bank vault door, after the two robbers surrendered to the police, the hostages and they hugged and shook hands again, there were even 2 girls who kept shouting “Don’t hurt them, they won’t do it.” harm us”.

Stockholm syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological disorder named after a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden in 1973

In most of the interviews from the media, the support and protection of the hostages was noted for the two robbers. The New Yorker once interviewed Oldgren – a female hostage who was once tied with a rope, and was surprised when she said: “I remember him being very kind when he allowed me to leave the ice cellar”. More specifically, one of the hostages became a criminal and another started a legal defense fund to help criminals pay criminal protection fees.

It was also from here that psychiatrists made a comparison between the reactions of the hostages and the shell shock (post-traumatic stress) of the combatants on the battlefield. And they explained that detainees feel that they know their kidnappers and abusers only if they are not tortured, beaten and killed by the kidnappers. Later, they also started using the name of this bank robbery to name the Stockholm syndrome.

After this syndrome was named, a similar case appeared in 1974. A kidnapping took place and the victim was Patty Hearst – the granddaughter of businessman and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. The main kidnapper is the Symbionese Liberation Army District (SLA). During the time of her abduction, she did not contact her family, even changing her name. She even joined the SLA to become a bank robber. She was later arrested and in court she used Stockholm syndrome to defend herself. However, this defense did not work and she was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Then in 1998, 10-year-old Natascha Kampusch also became the victim of a kidnapping. The girl was kept in a dark, insulated underground room. She was imprisoned for over 8 years by her kidnapper Wolfgang Přiklopil. During that time, the kidnapper showed his kindness to her but still beat her and threatened to kill her. Later, Natascha managed to escape and Přiklopil also took his own life. According to the information posted at that time, when the victim heard the news of Přiklopil’s death, the victim cried and could not accept that fact.

By the 21st century, psychologists have also begun to expand their understanding of this complex psychological syndrome to new groups of victims, such as cases of domestic violence, prostitutes, prisoners of war or victims of abuse, etc. Currently, situations of domestic violence and child abuse have persisted for many years. During the time of abuse, many victims face both emotional and physical trauma.

Victims try to please and avoid bothering or making the abuser feel angry. And sometimes the abusers’ praises and encouraging rewards are the factors that make the victim feel appreciated, feel that they are treated well, but forget the negative nature of the relationship. this bad system. This situation is very easy to appear in young children because children are still not fully aware of the negative aspects of the problem.

Manifestations of Stockholm syndrome

To determine if a person is suffering from Stockholm syndrome, they must meet all of the following 3 symptoms:

  • Victims have a positive emotional development towards those who have been holding and abusing them.
  • Victims have negative feelings towards those who help and rescue them, especially the police and those in authority. They even tend to refuse to cooperate, provide information and resist those who are trying to help them escape their captors.
  • Victims have empathy and understanding of their captors and believe that they share the same values and goals.

Often this complex psychological state will occur in the context of arrest, threat. Also because victims often feel fear towards their captors. However, they are also very dependent on criminals to survive. When the kidnapper or abuser tends to show kindness and tolerance, the victim is more likely to develop positive feelings of appreciation. Over time, those perceptions began to change in the direction of deviation, not in accordance with the nature of the abuser and their arrest.

Stockholm syndrome

People with Stockholm will develop positive emotions towards their captors and abusers.

However, symptoms of Stockholm syndrome are not only present in abduction cases, but it can also exist in other situations such as:

Abused Relationships: Many studies have shown that people who are abused are also more likely to form a strong emotional attachment to their abuser. Also because mental, physical, sexual abuse, and even incestuous relationships can last for months or years in a row. It is also during this time that the victim may begin to develop feelings, positive emotions, or empathy for the abuser.
Child Abuse: Children are currently one of the most common victims of abuse in many different forms. The abuser may use violence to threaten, verbally intimidate, or even beat fatally. In order to protect themselves, many children accept their fate and choose to obey. Besides, in order to control the victim, many abusers also put on a fake face, show their kindness towards the child and make the child feel confused and misunderstood about the negative nature of the victim. relationship.
Trafficking in Children and Women: Often, trafficked persons will have to rely heavily on their abusers for basic needs. If the abuser meets those needs well, the victim can begin to develop positive feelings and trust in the abuser.
Sports Coaching: This is a supportive relationship that grows together, but in some cases it can also become a negative that we are not aware of and even more at risk of being injured. abuse. Many athletes assume that the coach’s behaviors are only intended to help them strive and develop more, however this can be diagnosed as a form of Stockholm syndrome.

However, for this syndrome to occur, at least 3 of the following symptoms must be present:

  • An unequal power relationship of a serious nature. In it, the prisoner forces the victim to do things that they may or may not be able to do.
  • The abuser or detainee threatens death or injury to the victim.
  • Victims have an instinct to protect themselves.

The core feature of Stockholm syndrome is that the victim believes that it is completely impossible to escape from the kidnapper. That is why they agree to comply with their requests. In addition, the abuser is also unable to contact and communicate with the outside, so no outside views can penetrate their mind.

Why does Stockholm syndrome appear?

Stockholm is an extremely complex psychological syndrome and of course its causes are not simple. Through years of research and research, psychiatrists and criminologists have also begun to recognize some of the factors associated with this mental illness. Accordingly, a number of factors can cause this state to appear, such as:

Stockholm syndrome

Stockholm can be formed out of appreciation when criminals do not kill victims.

  • Victims themselves feel grateful when their kidnappers give them a chance to survive by not killing them. It is also this that makes them feel grateful, in a positive direction towards their abuser.
  • When the kidnapped person is treated gently by the kidnapper. They are provided by criminals and meet their needs well, even creating a good and comfortable living environment. As a result, victims begin to feel that they are being treated well, thinking that the abuser is not a bad person because they think that if they were a bad person, they would have been treated badly and cruelly.
  • The kidnapped people are completely isolated from the outside world, they cannot be influenced by anyone else. This exposes the victim to the kidnapper’s point of view and they understand that the situation has forced the kidnapper to commit a crime. They began to work hard to help, protect and sympathize with the cause of the kidnapper’s crime.
  • Victims may begin to develop a psychological or emotional connection to their abuser. Living together for many days with a certain space makes the victim and kidnapper close, close to each other and can even share and talk about common interests.
  • Victims also tend to develop behaviors to please and please their kidnappers. Initially seen as a necessary element of self-protection, the victim must side with the captor in order to free himself from violent, harsh or even murderous behavior. However, when this is repeated often and becomes a habit, it will continue to persist even when the victim is no longer being abused or threatened.
  • Victims may develop dependence on their abuser. This state will often occur in cases where the victim has no relatives or a place to return to. It is possible that a loved one has been killed and the victim feels extremely depressed, sad and needs support with food and shelter. It is this that invisibly turns the victim into a dependent of the kidnapper, even if they have been freed, no longer threatened.

How to effectively treat Stockholm syndrome?

Currently, Stockholm syndrome has not been recognized as a mental health diagnosis according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Conditional Guidelines for Mental Disorders (DSM-5). To be able to accurately diagnose Stockholm syndrome, psychologists and specialists will conduct a history check, observation and comprehensive examination of the suspect. If there are no problems or physical harm, there is no need to worry and there is no need to get tested. Accordingly, a diagnosis will be made based on the symptoms and signs mentioned above.

Once a person has been identified with Stockholm syndrome, the doctor will prompt the appropriate treatment methods to be applied. Often, patients receive short-term counseling and psychotherapy to alleviate the immediate problems of post-traumatic stress disorders, typically anxiety and depression. This process can greatly facilitate the subsequent recovery of individual Stockholm subjects. After that, long-term psychotherapy can be continued to help the patient stabilize and improve better.

Psychotherapists and psychologists can educate patients about healthy coping mechanisms. In addition, they teach patients about feedback tools to help them understand what has happened and is happening. Answers to questions, why it happened and how you overcame it.

After that, the patient will also undergo emotional adjustment in a positive direction. This process can help you understand what happened and let you know that it wasn’t your fault at all. The treatment needs to be persistent for a long time to help the patient fully recover.

In addition, the patient may also be prescribed some anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications. However, drug treatment is not the main measure and is only used in necessary cases, maintained with appropriate doses and duration.

The above article has provided readers with some useful information about Stockholm syndrome. This is a very complicated psychological disease, but early detection and psychological intervention will still bring good results for the recovery process.

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