What is Stockholm Syndrome?

21 September 2021

Stockholm Syndrome, in its simplest form, is the sympathy of the detained hostage, victim or victim with the detainee or group. It is not known exactly when, where, in whom or under what conditions Stockholm Syndrome, which is considered a traumatic disease, may occur.


Emergence of Stockholm Syndrome

stockholm sendromu 1973

The event that allowed this traumatic disease to enter the literature occurred on August 23, 1973 in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. A group of armed activists entered the bank with the intention of robbery and took the customers inside hostage. With the police blockading the bank, the robbery continued for 131 hours. At the end of 6 days, when the police entered to neutralize the robbers, it was seen that the hostages were resisting the police along with the robbers.

Later, the hostages at the bank refused to testify against the robbers in court. They even collected money among themselves and paid the robbers’ bail and attorney fees. In the investigations carried out after these events, which had great repercussions, they realized that the hostages were seriously afraid of armed robbers at the beginning of the robbery, and that this fear gave way to understanding and sympathy during the long period of being cut off from the outside. After this robbery attempt and what happened afterwards, the definition of Stockholm Syndrome entered the literature.


Causes of Stockholm Syndrome

stockholm sendromu

According to psychologists, the cause of Stockholm Syndrome is some kind of coping mechanism. In situations such as harassment, kidnapping, and hostage-taking, victims can go into a serious shock effect with fear. Along with this shock, the fear of what the abuser might do to them in their situation causes great trauma.

During their time completely disconnected from the outside world, at the mercy of the abuser, victims may begin to sympathize with the abuser. The reason for this may be that sometimes during the communication with the abuser, the victim understands the abuser and gives rights, and sometimes the fear leaves itself to a kind of gratitude when they see that the abuser did not harm them after coming face to face with the fear of death. In such cases, it can be seen that the victims take the side of the abuser against the police or the authority, and even hate the authority.


Treatment of Stockholm Syndrome

stockholm sendromu nedir

The effects of Stockholm Syndrome and the severity of these effects vary according to the person, the event and the time spent. Often, victims do not admit that Stockholm Syndrome is the reason they sympathize with or take interest in their abuser because of the trauma they have experienced. They may want to run away from their relatives or doctors who want to help. For this reason, it is necessary to respect the situation of the victims and to give them time to grasp the reality of the incident.

The treatment of Stockholm Syndrome requires a process that must be carried out by specialists. It is very important to receive regular psychological treatment for possible problems experienced by victims such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. In cases where Stockholm Syndrome is not treated, victims can turn into obsessive people. After the trauma experienced, the victim who gives rights, sympathy or love to the abuser experiences a serious trauma. The victim, who empathizes with and gives rights to the abuser as a result of the protection mechanism that emerges against his will in the moment of fear, believes that these are his true thoughts. Afterwards, he may have difficulty distinguishing between right and wrong, so he may find himself in dangerous activities. For this reason, it is very important for people with Stockholm Syndrome to receive comprehensive help and therapy.


Situations in which Stockholm Syndrome May Occur

stockholm syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome is most common in long-term hostage-taking events such as robbery and ransom. People who are taken hostage can start to show an understanding and interest in the people who committed the act, along with the urge to protect themselves during the time they spend with the robber or abuser. At the beginning of the acts where they are taken hostage, the victims, who experience a trauma for fear of what the abusers might do to them, see that the abusers did not harm them during the time they were held hostage, and when they see that they communicate and behave well, the fear can give way to interest. They can even protect their abusers against the police, court or other authorities due to the effect of Stockholm Syndrome.

Cases of Stockholm Syndrome can also be seen in child abuse cases. Children who are threatened with harming and killing by abusers experience a very serious trauma. Children, who feel obliged to act in harmony with their abusers because of the fear they experience, may feel an unnatural love for the abuser when they see the slightest example of kindness among the abusers and death threats. Stockholm Syndrome can also be seen frequently in human trafficking events.

Victims whose lives are at the mercy of human smugglers can feel gratitude towards their abusers just for giving them their bread and water. Victims, completely isolated from the outside world, whose vital needs are provided by people who detain them, sometimes see their abusers as their saviors, thinking that state forces or authority will treat them worse than human smugglers.

Today, Stockholm Syndrome can be encountered in bilateral relations. When victims are exposed to physical, emotional or sexual violence by the people they have a relationship with, they may think that the abuser loves them, along with the helplessness they feel after the crisis, and that the violence they have suffered is a way of showing love. Victims of Stockholm Syndrome with post-violent trauma may mistakenly love or even fall in love with their abuser.


Films About Stockholm Syndrome

There are some films about the Stockholm syndrome. Here are some of those movies:

In Time

in time

The film, starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, describes a world where people do not age after 25 and can only survive with the time they have. Coming from a poor family in this world and being tried on a murder charge, the character Will Salas kidnaps Slyvia, the daughter of a wealthy family, to prove his innocence and save himself. Slyvia, who initially resisted Will, gradually began to be influenced by Will and could not help falling in love with him.

V For Vendetta

v for vendetta

The lead character of the movie, V, wants to overthrow the corrupt fascist order of Great Britain and avenge himself. We watch how an individual rebellion against a dictatorial regime turns into a social event in line with their own plans. V rescues Evey Hmmond from the secret police. As a prisoner in V’s hands, Evey gradually understands V and his purpose and becomes V’s ally, embracing himself.

King Kong

king kong

Carl Denham heads to Skull Island to finish his movie. While the shooting of the movie continues, the lead actress Ann Darrow is captured by a giant gorilla. Despite Ann’s initial fear, this fear eventually turns into King Kong and Ann’s great love.

The Last Samurai

the last samurai

The movie, starring Tom Cruise, begins in Japan of the 1870s, when Captain Nathan, a member of the American army, comes to Tokyo to train the Japanese army. In the battle of the army under his command, Nathan becomes a prisoner of the samurai. Nathan, who is a prisoner in his samurai village, embraces the samurai culture as he gets to know it, and even fights alongside the samurai against his own army. Instead of physical or emotional violence after being held hostage, The Last Samurai movie deals with Stockholm Syndrome from a different perspective, by promoting samurai culture.

Blue bead

mavi boncuk film

One of Yeşilçam’s unforgettable films, Mavi Boncuk, directed by Ertem Eğilmez, is one of the films dealing with Stockholm Syndrome. Baba Yaşar, Handsome Necmi, Şeker Kamil, Kanuni Süleyman, District Governor Cafer and Mistik kidnap famous singer Emel Sayın to demand ransom. Emel Sayın, who sees that after she was abducted, that she was treated well and that her every wish was fulfilled, she begins to like these people who abducted her as she gets to know her.

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