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What is the Stockholm Syndrome:

The Stockholm Syndrome is used to identify the psychological reaction of some hostages towards their kidnappers, whose cohabitation forced to make them develop affection and solidarity towards them .

Normally, this type of psychological reaction occurs when the abductor does not exert direct violence on the victim, such as physical abuse, what the hostage usually misinterprets as a gesture of humanity

Due to the emotional shock, the kidnapped invisibilizes the violence that represents the deprivation of freedom, to value the absence of physical violence and take it as a positive sign.

The Stockholm syndrome is not a disease but a post-traumatic effect, which is why it does not appear in the books of psychiatric illness.

Not all people are susceptible to this syndrome. Some previous experiences can facilitate it. Among them, experiences of intimate partner violence, family violence, repeated sexual abuse, members of sects or fraternities, prisoners of war, etc.

Origin of the term

The term was coined in 1973 after the famous episode of the assault on the Bank of Credit in Stockholm, in Sweden. During this assault, the criminals took four employees hostage for six days.

At that time, one of the hostages, named Kristin Enmark, developed a relationship of solidarity and affection with her kidnapper, ending up cooperating with the situation. They called this phenomenon “Stockholm syndrome.”

Years later, Enmark publicly acknowledged that his reaction was not consistent, but attributed it to an unconscious way of protecting himself.

It was only the year after the kidnapping in Stockholm that the expression became popular. In 1974 Patricia Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Hearst’s relationship with his kidnappers came to such an extent that, after being released, he joined his captors and participated in the assault on a bank. From there, the term spread massively.

Domestic Stockholm syndrome

There is talk of domestic Stockholm syndrome to refer the psychological reaction of affect that develops a person towards his partner when he is a victim of repeated violence.

Due to the ambivalent characteristics of the relationship, the aggrieved person develops a strong emotional bond with his aggressor that makes him justify his actions. This prevents him from becoming aware of the violence and abnormality in which he lives.

Although in this case there is violence, it is called domestic Stockholm syndrome because the person voluntarily submits to “captivity” and normalizes the situation in which he lives.

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