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  1. Killer300

    Killer300 Active Member

    May 1, 2011
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    Stockholm Syndrome

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Killer300, Aug 24, 2011.

    Well, I saw this in a recent thread, sort of, and it made me wonder. Okay, Stockholm Syndrome is a powerful force, judging by how it affects people at times. However, there are numerous questions I have with this.

    1. Why does it happen? Is it some sort of defense mechanism to reduce harm to one's self, or is it desperation for affection from the other? Sorry if this is a google question but... I'm rather curious about this.
    2. Okay, I know this has been written before many times, but are there instances that worked particularly well to you?

    With that in mind, I'm toying with a story that involves a LOT of Stockholm Syndrome. A kid gets abducted by an anti-villain(long story involving Communism, damage done by superheroes, and Nazi rapists,) that wants to destroy the US government, and leave the former country on the level of Somalia. The boy will never get to see his family or friends again, in his lifetime. If she succeeds, he'll be tagging along with her for the rest of time. If she fails, he'll die. He should hate her deeply, yet later on... things change.
  2. AfterBroadway

    AfterBroadway Senior Member

    Aug 1, 2011
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    Google it. I'm sure you can find some medical writings on this that delve extensively into why and how it happens.
  3. Quezacotl

    Quezacotl Contributing Member

    Jun 1, 2011
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    It's categorized under PTSD in the DSM-IV, so I'd imagine the Stockholm Syndrome would be an attempt for the hostage to cope with his/her situation. A defensive mechanism, per se.

    The stockholm syndrome seems...odd and unbelievable to me, but I've never been kidnapped.
    Invisible Man did this well, though it was not particularly this exact idea. He was a negro undergraduate constantly trying to step into white society, refusing to admit they were doing him wrong, even as they abused him, insulted him, and desecrated his view of white society.

    He turned out to be a dynamic character at the end, however.
  4. Mallory

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Jun 27, 2010
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    Tampa Bay
    If you're kidnapped and being held against your will in someone's van/basement/etc, the absolute last thing you want to do is piss them off, because you don't want to end up killed. This requires you to be nice to them and try to get them to like you, which is where it usually starts (not that I've ever had Stockholm syndrome). I think it's also a defense mechanism as well. You don't want to admit you're in such a horrible situation, so a part of you convinces the rest of you that you like your kidnapper.

    Stockholm Syndrome was named after a bank robbery lock-down in Stockholm, Sweden. Research on that incident might help you; it should be fairly easy to dig up something good.
  5. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Feb 10, 2011
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    Rotorua, New Zealand

    The best explanation I've heard for it is that its a psychological coping mechanism.

    We all need to believe that our world is safe and has rules in it that we can understand. The alternative is to lose all hope in our world. So people suffering this condition are trying to deal with a situation which does not fit their normal world view. So by identifying with their captors, trying to make sense of why they are being treated in this way. The sufferer then creates a new set of rules in his or her mind about how this new world operates, and in particular whether the man holding the gun is going to shoot them. With those rules in place, they then find a degree of safety / certainty in their situation. The alternative is to believe that they could die at any moment, which is far more highly stressful. No matter how bad things are, the underlying belief is that if you feel you can find some degree of control over your situation you will cope better then if you accept you're just screwed and waiting for the axe to fall.

    You see variations of this behaviour in less serious situations. One of the more common is in the work place where people have extremely bad / bullying bosses. When this happens you often find some staff will strongly support the boss' actions even though they know they're wrong. They have a need to believe that the boss is doing these terrible things out of some plan they can understand, rather then just accept that he's a randomly acting sod.

    Others have suggested that it is an instinctive almost evolutionary level response to a very bad situation where people by identifying with their captors are trying to ingratiate themselves with them and thus not get killed. Thus in the above situation with the nasty boss, you will get a number of employees reporting to the boss on all the things they hear.

    Both of these theories may of course be right.

  6. JoenSo

    JoenSo Member

    May 12, 2009
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    The funny thing is that there's been a lot of debate whether they really suffered form Stockholm syndrome or not during that robbery. I saw an interview with one of the hostages once where she said that they were simply afraid that the two robbers would be provoced into violence by the police's not so subtle approach to the situation. So they screamed at the police to stop, to get out, when they approached with guns, drills, gas and what not. And when they later critized the police, many assumed that they were defending the robbers. Don't know if all the hostages shared this view though.

    Do a wikipedia search on Patty Hearst if you want a pretty extreme example of the Stockholm Syndrome. Don't remember much about that case, but she was kidnapped, and a few months later she assisted her captors during a robbery.
  7. SeverinR

    SeverinR Contributing Member

    Feb 15, 2011
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    New Madison Ohio
    This is one of those topics it is best to read from people that have studied it or lived it, first or second hand. ie being the victim of it or the people closest to the victim.

    Looking at those who study it would be able to establish the guidelines and specifics.
    How long does it take to manifest? What limitations there are, and other workings of the syndrome.

    It is a mental condition, so no two cases are identical. No two people in the same situation will react the same way.
  8. dekisha

    dekisha New Member

    Feb 23, 2012
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    I have been read about that horrible psychical disease at stockholm syndrome site about..
    and i still do not get, how someone can be so stupid to hide all horrible activities of their captors?
    So many families had a nearly same problem but on media is so low info about this syndrome...but why...they must say to all woman about this and about to stop hide captors, they must ask someone to help...
  9. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    It's closely related to the conditioning deliberately used by cults to isolate new members and program them for loyalty. In hostage/captive scenario's it is not always an intentional act by the captors, but it still occurs because the captive is under stress and feels compelled to bond to whoever is on hand.

    Google is really your best bet, and you might want to favor psychology forums or studies.

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