The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological state in which the victims of a kidnapping, or persons detained against their free will – prisoners – develop a relationship with their captor(s). This solidarity can sometimes become a real complicity, with prisoners actually helping the captors to achieve their goals or to escape police.
The syndrome develops out of the victim's attempts to relate to his or her captor or gain the kidnapper's sympathy.
The syndrome is named after the famous Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm which lasted from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, the victims kept on defending their captors even after their six-day physical detention was over. They showed a reticent behaviour in the following legal procedures. The term was coined by the criminologist and psychologist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast. It was then picked up by many psychologists worldwide.
Other famous cases include those of airplane hostages and kidnapped people, such as Patty Hearst. After having been a hostage of a politically engaged military organisation (the Symbionese Liberation Army), Patty Hearst joined the group several months after she was freed. The syndrome is related to bride capture and similar topics in cultural anthropology.
Last updated: 05-07-2005 12:13:54
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04