Stockholm syndrome

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Stockholm syndrome is a psychological disorder that was first identified in the 1970s, though the term is sometimes applied more generally. We will examine the meaning of the term Stockholm syndrome, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Stockholm syndrome is a mental condition in which a kidnapped victim or hostage develops empathy or trust for his captor. Those suffering physical abuse or sexual abuse in abusive relationships such as domestic abuse situations involving women who are battered may also suffer from Stockholm syndrome, as well as members of a cult. In all situations in which a perpetrator exerts power and control over victims, whether they are kept captive physically or mentally, the unpredictable setting and constant danger of this traumatic situation causes the victims to look for ways to bond with their perpetrator. A victim will look upon any kindness that the criminal chooses to bestow as a sign of his empathy, and the victim and predator become bonded in an irrational relationship. People who are held captive often have a shift in their cognitive perception, and become brainwashed. This happened to heiress Patty Hearst, when she was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Locked in a closet and starved, beaten and raped, the great traumatic stress and deep psychological pressures caused her to form an attachment to her abusers. The phenomenon of Stockholm syndrome was first identified in 1973 when Jan-Erik Olsson drew a machine gun and attempted a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. The plan went awry, and Olsson ended up in a standoff with the police, holding hostages in order to negotiate his escape. Though they were prisoners held in captivity, under constant threat from their abductor, the hostages perceived their kidnapper as someone who was basically a decent person, bonding with him over small favors he would grant them during the ordeal. After Olsson was arrested, the survivors were supportive of him, some even visiting him in prison. This strange emotional bond was dubbed the Stockholm syndrome in 1973 by Nils Bejerot, a psychiatrist and criminologist. Today, the term Stockholm syndrome is often used rather loosely, sometimes to describe someone who is too close to something or someone to see their faults. Note that only the word Stockholm is capitalized, as it is a proper noun.


It was at this point where I realized constantly booking yourself with things to do when you are home is basically a form of Stockholm syndrome manifested from the GCal invite culture of Yale where my only form of relaxation comes from my 20-minute prescheduled naps in Starr Main Reading Room. (Yale Daily News)

Christine and the Phantom are caught up in a Stockholm syndrome, “Beauty and the Beast”-style romance that today reeks of heavy-handed symbolism. (The Houston Chronicle)

Stockholm syndrome, also known as hostage identification syndrome, is defined as a “psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands” — in other words, a process of brainwashing the captive. (The Daily Californian)

“They’re intimidated, it’s almost like Stockholm Syndrome I would think, so you’re forced to believe you love this wonderful life.” (The Lethbridge News)