Stockholm Syndrome, in its simplest form, is the sympathy of the detained hostage, a 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
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 significant repercussions, they realized that the hostages were terrified of armed robbers at the beginning of the robbery. This fear gave way to understanding and sympathy during the extended time being cut off from the outside. After this robbery attempt and what happened afterward, the definition of Stockholm Syndrome entered the literature.
Causes of Stockholm Syndrome
According to psychologists, the cause of Stockholm Syndrome is some kind of coping mechanism. Victims can go into a severe shock effect with fear in situations such as harassment, kidnapping, and hostage-taking. Along with this shock, the fear of what the abuser might do to them in their situation causes excellent trauma.
During their time wholly disconnected from the outside world, at the mercy of the abuser, victims may begin to sympathize with the abuser. This may be because sometimes, during the communication with the abuser, the victim understands the abuser and gives rights. Sometimes, the fear leaves itself to a kind of gratitude when they see that the abuser did not harm them after facing 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
The effects of Stockholm Syndrome and the severity vary according to the person, the event, and the time spent. Often, victims do not admit that Stockholm Syndrome is why they sympathize with or take an interest in their abuser because of the trauma they have experienced. They may want to run away from their relatives or doctors who wish 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 is experienced, the victim who gives rights, sympathy, or love to the abuser undergoes a severe concussion. The victim, who empathizes with and gives rights to the abuser due to the protection mechanism that emerges against his will in the moment of fear, believes that these are his true thoughts. Afterward, he may have difficulty distinguishing between right and wrong so that he may find himself in dangerous activities. For this reason, it is essential for people with Stockholm Syndrome to receive comprehensive help and therapy.
Situations in which Stockholm Syndrome May Occur
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 their time with the robber or abuser. At the beginning of the acts where they are taken hostage, the victims, who experience 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. When they know 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 severe 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:
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 low-income 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 became influenced by Will and could not help falling in love with him.
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 Hammond from the secret police. Evey gradually understands V and his purpose as a prisoner in V’s hands and becomes V’s ally, embracing himself.
Carl Denham heads to Skull Island to finish his movie. While the movie’s shooting continues, the lead actress Ann Darrow is captured by a giant gorilla. This fear eventually turns into King Kong and Ann’s great love despite Ann’s initial anxiety.
The Last Samurai
The movie, starring Tom Cruise, begins in Japan in the 1870s, when Captain Nathan, a member of the American army, comes to Tokyo to train the Japanese military. In the army’s battle under his command, Nathan becomes a prisoner of the samurai. Nathan, 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.
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, she was treated well and that her every wish was fulfilled, she likes these people who abducted her as she gets to know her.