Stockholm Syndrome

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Definition: The Stockholm Syndrome (SS) is a psychological involuntary state in which victims of kidnapping or abuse begin to feel sympathy, emotional bonding, and solidarity for those who are abusing them or keeping them captive in oppressive situations.

The Stockholm Syndrome was named in 1973 by psychologist Nils Bejerot after the hostage victims of a Stockholm, Sweden robbery and six-day kidnapping resisted being rescued, defended their captors, and refused to testify against them.

Two of the women hostages eventually became engaged to the captors.

When victims are under tremendous emotional and physical duress, they may begin to identify with their abusers or captors as a defensive mechanism. The victim develops a strategy of staying alive by keeping the captor happy and eventually sympathizes with the captor. Small acts of kindness on the part of the abuser increases the emotional bond.

Stockholm Syndrome is a common survival mechanism of

captured brides
battered women
physically and/or emotionally abused children
incest victims
cult members
concentration camp prisoners
prisoners of war
those in controlling and/or intimidating relationships
hijacked victims

It is believed that Patty Hearst and Elizabeth Smart experienced Stockholm Syndrome.
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