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Stockholm syndrome

From Academic Kids

The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological state in which the victims of a kidnapping, or persons detained against their free will – prisoners – develop a relationship with their captor(s). This solidarity can sometimes become a real complicity, with prisoners actually helping the captors to achieve their goals or to escape police.

The syndrome develops out of the victim's attempts to relate to his or her captor or gain the kidnapper's sympathy.

According to the FBI's Hostage/Barricade System database, 92 per cent [1] (http://www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/1999/jul99leb.pdf) of the victims of such incidents reportedly showed no aspect of the Stockholm Syndrome.

The syndrome is named after the famous Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm which lasted from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, the victims kept on defending their captors even after their six-day physical detention was over. They showed a reticent behaviour in the following legal procedures. The term was coined by the criminologist and psychologist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast. It was then picked up by many psychologists worldwide.

Other famous cases include those of airplane hostages and kidnapped people, such as Patty Hearst and Elizabeth Smart. After having been a hostage of the Symbionese Liberation Army, Patty Hearst joined the group in a bank robbery. She did not recover for several months after she was arrested with some of her captors. The syndrome is related to bride capture and similar topics in cultural anthropology.

The 1998 film Buffalo 66 starring Vincent Gallo and Christina Ricci draws heavily from this subject.

Evolutionary psychological explanation of Stockholm syndrome/capture-bonding

Natural selection has left us with psychological responses to capture as seen in the Kreditbanken robbery and the Patty Hearst kidnapping. Capture-bonding, or social reorientation when captured from one warring tribe to another was an essential survival trait (especially for women) for at least a million years. Those who so reoriented often became our ancestors. Those who did not were often killed.

When captured and escape is not possible, giving up short of dying and adjusting to the new is good for genetic survival. Over evolutionary times genes would become more common if the genes built brains/minds able to dump previous emotional attachments when captured and forge new social bonds to the captors.

An evolutionary psychology explanation for Stockholm syndrome stresses the fact that our ancestors are those who gave up and joined the tribe that had captured them (and sometimes had killed most of their relatives). This selection of our ancestors accounts for the extreme forms of capture-bonding seen in the Kreditbanken robbery and the Patty Hearst capture/abuse.

Capture-bonding as a powerful evolved psychological trait in humans may account for the bonding in military basic training ("training is a mildly traumatic experience intended to produce a bond"), sexual bondage practices and fraternity hazing as well as battered wife syndrome, where beatings and abuse are observed to generate seemingly paradoxical bonds between the victim and the abuser.

See also

External links

de:Stockholm-Syndrom es:Sndrome de Estocolmo fr:Syndrome de Stockholm he:תסמונת שטוקהולם nl:Stockholm-syndroom ja:ストックホルム症候群 pl:Syndrom sztokholmski ru:Стокгольмский синдром sv:Stockholmssyndromet

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