Stockholm syndrome - this phrase describes an unusual psychological phenomenon, manifested in the inadequate response of the object of attack on his abuser. In other words, it is an unconscious defensive connection arising from a traumatic event (abduction, threat of violence, hostage taking) between the invader and the defending party. Such a connection can be mutual sympathy or one-sided. Due to a strong emotional experience, the victim has a feeling of sympathy towards the aggressor. They are trying to find an excuse for the actions of the invaders. Often this leads to the adoption of hostage ideas of the aggressor.
The described phenomenon is a psychological state that begins when the individual experiences the traumatic precedent of being a hostage. It arises when sympathy for the invaders awakens from the victims. Often, hostages identify themselves with the "occupiers."
With the long-term interaction of the objects of attack and the attacking side in the psyche and the behavioral response of the hostages, there is a reorientation, called the Stockholm syndrome, which is an instrument of psychological defense, formed unconsciously. However, he is often recognized by the victim himself. The considered syndrome takes place on two tiers - mental and behavioral. At the level of mental processes, this mechanism is implemented with the help of identification, whitening of the criminal and his acts, forgiveness. This allows preserving the integrity of the “I” as a personality structure, including will, love for one’s own person and self-esteem. At the behavioral tier, the hostage manifests acceptance, humility, assistance to the invader, fulfillment of requirements, increases the chance of a positive reaction, reduced by violent acts, refusal to kill, and readiness to negotiate. This increases the likelihood of survival, preservation of health for the object of violence.
Thus, in simple terms, the Stockholm syndrome is an unusual psychological phenomenon, denoting the emergence of sympathy for the torturers in the victim.
The described phenomenon is remarkable not only by incomprehensible sympathy for the aggressors arising from the abducted individuals, but also by their special behavioral response - there are often cases where the victims themselves interfere with their own release.
Scientific figures who studied the analyzed phenomenon suggest that this syndrome is not a mental paradox, not a disorder in the traditional sense, but a normal reaction of the human body to serious traumatic events.
For the emergence of this phenomenon of the psyche requires the following conditions:
- the presence of the torturer and the victim;
- The benevolent attitude of the torturer to the prisoner;
- the emergence of a special attitude towards the aggressor in the abducted subject - the justification and understanding of his actions;
- gradual replacement of fear by the hostage with affection and compassion, strengthening of such emotions as the risk atmosphere increases, when neither the invader nor his victim feel security (sharing the danger brings them together).
The main danger of this phenomenon lies in the transformation of the hostage's behavioral response. The victim commits actions against their own interests, for example, preventing law enforcement agencies from detaining the invaders. There are precedents when, during the implementation of anti-terrorism measures by special units, captured subjects warned the aggressors about the appearance of liberators, and often even blocked the terrorist with his own body. In other cases, the terrorists could hide among the victims and no one exposed them incognito. As a rule, such an obsession, called the Stockholm syndrome, disappears after the terrorists kill their first victim.
The key condition for the formation of the described syndrome is the existence of a situation of interaction between an individual or a group of subjects with aggressors that limit their freedom and are capable of causing violence. The controversial behavioral response of the victim manifests itself in political or criminal terrorist acts, military operations, abduction, family or religious dictatorship.
The humanization of the interaction between the aggressor and the defending party is due to the following reasons.
People subjected to physical violence, observing coercion from the side, inherent manifestation of humane attitudes. Fear of death, injury, pain is a stimulus that motivates behavior.
A language barrier or a cultural barrier may increase the likelihood of the emergence of this syndrome or, conversely, hinder the formation of the described painful attachment. Different culture, speech, religion are subconsciously perceived by hostages as justifying factors of the brutality of terrorists.
Psychological literacy, expressed in the knowledge of methods of survival by both participants of the situation, increases the humanization of the relationship. The mechanisms of psychological influence on survival are actively involved.
The analyzed syndrome is more often observed in communicative subjects with the ability to empathize. Diplomatic interaction often changes the actions of the invaders, thereby increasing the chances of survival of their hostages.
The duration of the traumatic situation is also a condition for the birth of this pernicious bond. Stockholm syndrome begins within a couple of days from the moment of the active actions of the invader. Long-term interaction makes it possible to better know the torturer, to comprehend the causes of violent acts and to justify them.
There are such symptoms of Stockholm syndrome as:
- unfeigned admiration for the invaders;
- resistance to rescue activities;
- protection of the thief;
- the desire to please the criminals;
- disagreement on giving evidence against terrorists;
- refusal to escape from the torturers when such a chance appears.
The considered fatal dependence arises when the object of attack does not possess the means in order to protect itself; it takes an inert position. The behavior of the kidnapper is determined by a specific goal, as a result of which he is often embodied in accordance with the planned plan or according to the usual scenario, the result of which depends precisely on torture, oppression, and degradation of the hostages.
The desire to humanize relationships is found in the victim’s attempts to make fruitful contact. Therefore, such a subject begins to provide medical or domestic assistance to the invader, to initiate a personal conversation, for example, on the subject of family relationships, the reasons that prompted him to take the criminal path.