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What is Stockholm Syndrome and Who Does it Affect?

What is Stockholm Syndrome and Who Does it Affect?

Stockholm syndrome is commonly linked to high profile kidnappings and hostage situations. Aside from famous crime cases, regular people may also develop this psychological condition in response to various types of trauma.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what exactly the Stockholm syndrome is, how it got its name, the types of situations that may lead to someone developing this syndrome, and what can be done to treat it.

What is Stockholm syndrome?

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. This psychological connection develops over the course of the days, weeks, months, or even years of captivity or abuse.

With this syndrome, hostages or abuse victims may come to sympathize with their captors. This is the opposite of the fear, terror, and disdain that might be expected from the victims in these situations.

Over the course of time, some victims do come to develop positive feelings toward their captors. They may even begin to feel as if they share common goals and causes. The victim may begin to develop negative feelings toward the police or authorities. They may resent anyone who may be trying to help them escape from the dangerous situation they’re in.

This paradox does not happen with every hostage or victim, and it’s unclear why it occurs when it does.

Many psychologists and medical professionals consider Stockholm syndrome a coping mechanism, or a way to help victims handle the trauma of a terrifying situation. Indeed, the history of the syndrome may help explain why that is.

What is the history?

Episodes of what is known as Stockholm syndrome have likely occurred for many decades, even centuries. But it wasn’t until 1973 that this response to entrapment or abuse came to be named.

That’s when two men held four people hostage for 6 days after a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. After the hostages were released, they refused to testify against their captors and even began raising money for their defense.

After that, psychologists and mental health experts assigned the term “Stockholm syndrome” to the condition that occurs when hostages develop an emotional or psychological connection to the people who held them in captivity.

Despite being well known, however, Stockholm syndrome is not recognized by the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual is used by mental health experts and other specialists to diagnose mental health disorders.

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