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Stockholm Syndrome

What is Stockholm Syndrome?

Is Stockholm syndrome a survival strategy?

Who are vulnerable to Stockholm syndrome?

What are the psychological processes underlying Stockholm syndrome?

How can we help those with Stockholm syndrome? Give two examples and provide references. Thanks.

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Stockholm syndrome - Background Information

The bulk of this answer is drawn from the work of Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D. President, INPM, Research Director and Professor in the Counselling Psychology Department of the Trinity Western University, BC, Canada.


Two prime examples of possible cases of Stockholm Syndrome are Elizabeth Smart and Patty Hurst. Since Elizabeth Smart's safe return home, one of the most asked questions is: Why didn't she run for help when she had the chance? Why did she refuse to reveal her true identity when she was first approached by the police who arrested her captors? Citing Patty Hearst, many have concluded that Elizabeth Smart is another case of Stockholm syndrome, and that she must have been brainwashed by her captors. Since we don't know the details of what has actually happened to Elizabeth Smart in the last nine months, and how she has managed to cope with her captivity, we cannot say anything for sure about her mental state. However, we do know that no one can go through kidnapping and captivity without being touched by the ordeal psychologically.

It would be instructive for us to examine this intriguing phenomenon of Stockholm syndrome and ask ourselves: How would we cope, if we were kidnapped or held hostages? What is the likelihood that we would fall victim to Stockholm syndrome?

1. What is Stockholm syndrome?

The term "Stockholm syndrome" was first coined by Professor Nils Bejerot to explain the phenomenon of hostages bonding with their captors. In Stockholm, Sweden in 1973, two bank robbers held four people hostages for six days. The Norrmalmstorg Bank robbery received wide publicity because the hostages came to care ...

Solution Summary

By responding to the questions, this solution addresses aspects of "Stockholm Syndrome" e.g. defining the syndrome, survival strategy or not, who is vulnerable, the psychological processes underlying the disorder, and how to best help a person with this syndrome. Examples and references are provided.