1. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    Does This Sound Like Stockholm Syndrome?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by EstherMayRose, Nov 9, 2018.

    I'm currently writing a fanfiction in which a character manages to locate his missing mother. She tells him that after she left, she became stranded in a forest at night before she stumbled upon a hut. The man who lived there took her in and she fell in love with him and married him two years later.

    I was wondering if this would sound problematic. I realise he isn't her captor, but she is dependent on him as if he threw her out she'd be left homeless without any income, so would that create an imbalance of power? I was also worried about how quickly they got married, but I need their daughter to be born three years after she left her son so that she's the same age as another, canon character. She was thirty-two when she met her husband, so not exactly wide-eyed and innocent, but she was desperate, so would he be seen as abusing power over her as her benefactor?
     
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Not Stockholm Syndrome unless you have the man keep her from leaving for some time.

    I would think a harder task for you is explaining why she abandons her son and doesn't make an effort to get back.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Plenty of people marry after less than two years' acquaintance, and if this is a time when a woman was assumed to always have some male protector--father, brother, husband--it seems even less problematic.

    I am a little confused about the circumstances. Being lost in a forest at night seems like something that's solved by morning, rather than something that leaves a person trapped for two years. The implication of your question suggests that there was, permanently, no other possible source of shelter or income for the woman. I suspect I need more details.
     
  4. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    If I was an axeman in a hut, thirty-two seems a little old. I'd probably eat this one and await a younger version, twenty-eight, twenty-seven would be less problematic.
     
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  5. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    I suppose I have an answer there. The source material explains that she was banished because political intrigue and (I added) they didn't have the money to get back when she was un-banished. He offered her permanent residence in his hut and she offered to cook and clean for him, being a rather traditional woman.
     
  6. Storysmith

    Storysmith Member

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    If you don't want it to appear that the husband is keeping her there, have him offer to take her out of the forest. She can refuse out of love for him, and at that point it all becomes entirely through choice rather than power.
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    "Didn't have the money to go back" doesn't feel like enough of a reason to abandon her son. Did she not even try to get a message to him?
     
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  8. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Member

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    No, maybe you need to read up fully on Stockholm and decide yourself if it applies because you know your story best.

    I second ChickenFreak on the mothering skills of this character. You need a good excuse to abandon your child unless you're aim is to make readers dislike a character.
     
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  9. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out why she couldn't get a message to him. There's time to work that out.
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    So, my view is that taking a job and, in two years, falling in love with the employer, marrying him, and having a child with him: Not a problem.
    Abandoning her preexisting child, not doing everything she possibly could to get back and, failing that, everything she could to send a message: Problem.

    There is the old, "I have deadly enemies and had to fake my death and if you knew I was alive you'd be in danger" scheme.
     
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  11. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    Well, she couldn't take her kids with her when she was banished or she'd be killed and they'd be dragged back/they'd all be killed (trying to decide how expendable the dad considers his kids to be, considering he treats them like tools in the show), and they lived pretty much in poverty: only just managing to feed the three of them and very slowly building up a fund to pay their passage back home. I'm wondering if the village they live near to didn't have their world's equivalent of a post office, but then how would any of them send messages? Maybe the villagers don't need to? I'm confused.

    She is trying to keep a low profile because she's worried that her former husband (or one of his supporters) may change his mind about letting her live peacefully post-banishment and have them all killed, which is why she only ever visits this one village to buy food.
     
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  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Human beings--travelers--could take messages. Or there could be some sort of pigeon service. Not having a post office IN the village just doesn't seem like a good reason. ("Notify my son so he doesn't spend a lifetime wondering what happened to his mother? But someone might have to walk for HOURS!")
     
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  13. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    I did not think of that. Poo. I'm trying to figure out why she absolutely could not have got a message to him so that he can come and find her in a big symbolic quest of redemption.

    I'm stumped.
     
  14. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Active Member

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    Characters personality traits and/or psychological and/or psychiatric condition would be almost only credible reason.

    Real people do kill and abandon their offspring in real life for millions of reasons, but there is very few umbrellas that cover most of those reasons.

    When mother is sane, the basic logic is that "my well being is so important that I can sacrifice your well being, advancement or even life for that because your life is not as important to me and I am the only thing that matters. (Me-me-me -logic or I-Me-Mine -logic. The difference is that me-me-me values only me and I-Me-Mine does not recognise the border between me and close persons.)

    When mother is insane, the basic logic is - of course - insane in the similar way that mother is insane.
     
  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe he left so that she had no idea where he was?
     
  16. Nariac

    Nariac Active Member

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    Yeah, something like this. Maybe he was abducted and she went looking for him in the forest. And then she got lost there as well. But she never loses sight of her goal to find him.
     
  17. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    A lot of this issue can be solved if you concentrate on her feelings about 'abandoning' her son. If she feels she's doing the right thing by him, and keeping her whereabouts hidden in order to keep him safe, then that is entirely plausible and it will be easy for the reader to empathise with her. If she never gives him a second thought, however, that's a different thing altogether. But if she thinks about him every day, wonders how he is, is constantly sad, etc ...that will work to keep her a likeable character, no matter what she actually does.
     
  18. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Is there some way to make her believe her son is dead?
     
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  19. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale The Caliph of al-Abama Contributor

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    There's a key word here that I don't think anyone above has addressed: fanfiction. I understand the reluctance to give too many details of your story away, but I think it would help a lot if we knew which universe this was taking place in. People in, say, Harry Potter respond quite differently to people in The Hunger Games. In a fantasy series, being lost in the forest can be what the story hangs on, while in a more modern setting, it's just "Thanks for taking me in, it was really cold last night, I'll send you a fruit basket when I get back to the city."
     
  20. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    It's a fanfiction for Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is high fantasy set in a world based on Medieval Asia. (Part of me didn't want to mention that because I didn't want a bunch of people on my head saying "you are mutilating this plotline", because fans of the show will know which character this is.) So no internet and not many methods of travel. When I said "no equivalent of a post office", I meant "nowhere to give your letter to blokes riding animals", which is what they have there, so I was wondering if that would be a plausible thing for a village not to have.

    The problem I have is that the mother is not the focus character, so I can't show her life and feelings. She explains her story to her son upon their reunion. And because it's fanfiction, there are certain things I can't change. I can't do anything with the son as he's a main character of both the show and the fanfic, so he needs to stay at home to continue his backstory. Since they're the ruling family, she'll have heard bits and pieces of news about them, such as her former husband being out of the picture and her son taking the throne. I'm also trying to think of a trigger for him to discover her whereabouts.

    This story is full of holes.
     
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  21. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    One possibility: she sent a message, it reached someone at his home, that someone faked a response “from” him that expressed anger and rejection and told her to never contact him again.

    The trigger: maybe she decided to respect that demand for a certain number of years and then try again, in case age changed his mind.
     
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  22. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    The problem with that is, I doubt she'd have tried to contact him while his father was still around because of the aforementioned death threat, but after he was gone, it was just her son and his girlfriend.

    I know I'm being really difficult here, but I'm really stuck here and it seems like nothing's working.
     
  23. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    So it’s not that she absolutely could not—it’s that she made a clear, free, choice not to.

    He’s probably, quite understandably, going to be angry.
     
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  24. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    But if she did try and get in contact - probably breaking the terms of her banishment - she would almost definitely have been hunted down and killed (and her new husband and daughter as well) and her son would possibly also have been harmed.

    Also the country she was banished from was at war with the rest of the world, so communication would probably have been impossible, but I'm still trying to close off all the ways she could contact her son for the last four years, when the war is over and his father is gone.
     
  25. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm confused now. Why close them off? Why not have her try as soon as she can?
     

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