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Stockholm syndrome is a mechanism that sometimes arises in the victim-executioner relationship. Sometimes a kidnapped and imprisoned person feels positive emotions towards his abuser, is understanding and even defends him. Stockholm syndrome is also defined as pathological relationships in families, relationships, the so-called toxic, in which the injured (dominated) party tries to justify the behavior of the harmful (dominant) party at all costs.

Stockholm syndrome - what is it?

Stockholm Syndromeis a defense reaction, a specific survival mechanism. Psychology explains it in such a way that a person has such a strong instinct to save his life that he can adapt to even the worst conditions and learn to function in them.

Stockholm Syndromein extreme terms affects kidnapped and imprisoned people, hostages, prisoners of war, sexually abused people, members of a sect, but it can also develop in love relationships (Stockholm syndrome in relationship is the so-called possessive love), and even in the boss-subordinate relationship (mobbing).

The person who is the weaker party in this relationship, thanks to this mechanism, feels safer - and safety is one of the basic human needs - but also more comfortable, because he does not have to fight or confront a toxic partner.

Stockholm Syndromeis a reaction to severe stress and may, to some extent, become a protective armor for the victim.

Why "Stockholm Syndrome"?

The name " Stockholm syndrome " comes from the events of 1973, when two men robbed a bank in Stockholm. When the police arrived, the criminals took hostages: three women and a man, and held them for six days.

After some time of negotiations, the rescuers came to the bank and - with difficulty, because the hostages gave the impression that they did not want to go free - freed the people. Later it turned out that duringThe interrogations hostages defended the attackers and blamed the police for everything.

After some time, even one of the hostages became engaged to her torturer, and the detained man established a foundation to raise money for lawyers for thieves. It was then that the Swedish criminologist and psychologist who was at these events, Nils Bejerot, for the first time used the term "Stockholm syndrome".

Another famous example of the Stockholm Syndrome is the case of Patty Hearst, granddaughter of American publisher William Randolph Hearst, who was kidnapped on February 4, 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, who profess utopian social concepts.

Patty joined the group and participated with her, incl. in a bank robbery. In the end, she was sent to prison, sentenced to 7 years in prison for collaborating with terrorists, but eventually the sentence was reduced to two years.

Also interesting is the case of Natascha Kampusch, who was kidnapped by Wolfgang Priklopil when she was 10 years old and was beaten and humiliated by him for the next 8 years. In 2006, she finally managed to escape, but later said that she wanted to establish a positive relationship with her executioner, because he was simply the only person she had seen all this time.

According to some psychologists, the case of Natascha Kampusch is not entirely an example of the Stockholm syndrome, if only because in the latter the victim is not able to escape, moreover, at the time of Natascha's abduction, she was a child and the children simply need to be related to someone - she had no one else.

How to recognize Stockholm Syndrome?

A person suspected of the Stockholm-Syndrome shows several characteristic symptoms that develop under certain conditions:

  • does not seem to notice that she is being hurt - this can happen, for example, in a (toxic) love relationship, when one person is cheated on or somehow abused or humiliated. - even when her relatives draw her attention to it, it does not reach her
  • underestimates their harm - e.g. an employee forced to work overtime agrees to it, explains this situation as temporary, does not see that it is a classic mobbing
  • explains, justifies the torturer - "I deserved", "had a hard day", "difficult childhood"
  • shares the views of the torturer - a good example is the sect in which members treat the guru like a god, believe his every word, are manipulated
  • takes the side of the perpetrator - e.g. an imprisoned person makes it difficult for the police / rescuers to act in order to free him or herrelationship - the oppressed person defends his partner when the family even tries to report him to the police
  • is unable to escape or to free herself from a difficult situation in any other way
  • has positive feelings for her abuser - wife loves her husband who beats her
  • on the other hand, has negative feelings towards people trying to save her

Of course, it is not the case that every person who finds himself in a dominated position in some situation, in other words becomes a victim, will develop the Stockholm Syndrome. Some would rather die than do anything against themselves. It is a complex issue and depends on many factors, including from a person's mental and emotional predispositions, whether he was, for example, mistreated as a child, beaten, humiliated, etc.

The symptoms of the Stockholm syndrome develop under certain conditions, that is:

  • there must be a situation in which a person notices that their survival depends on a certain person
  • is enslaved, humiliated, has no control over his own life, does not see the possibility of getting out of this situation, e.g. breaking a partnership relationship, or in the extreme case (kidnapping, imprisonment) - escaping
  • notices, and even exaggerates, some positive features of the dominant person, they can be small pleasantries - making coffee, serving a cigarette

Stockholm syndrome - therapy

What are the chances of a rescue for a person suffering from Stockholm syndrome? Apart from extreme situations, such as imprisonment or kidnapping, in which police intervention is necessary, in the remaining cases described above, in order for the victim to free himself from someone's toxic influence, the help of relatives is irreplaceable.

Friends and family who patiently support the victim without being discouraged by the fact that they are often repelled and denied by them can help her to see through her eyes at some point. They should constantly try to score the bad influence of the toxic relationship on her and by all possible means try to relax her. But - it is very difficult, because sometimes it can be counterproductive. After all, the victim defends the torturer and may begin to avoid contact with relatives.

You also have to reckon with the fact that the dominant person may use various, clever tricks, such as blackmail: "if you leave me, I will kill myself in front of the children".

One of the methods of support from relatives is to indicate other, alternative ways of proceeding, because the victim often fixes himself on one solution.

You can also try to get the victim toConsultation with a recommended (and informed about the circumstances) psychologist due to a completely different problem (because he will not go to this particular one of his own free will).

A person with the Stockholm syndrome who finally realizes that he needs help will certainly need the support of not only relatives, but also a psychologist and psychiatrist.

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