Picture: Hostage Patty Hearst (Granddaughter of Newspaper baron Randolph Hearst) who was kidnapped, and even took up arms on behalf of her hostages
Stockholm Syndrome: Case Studies
There are many cases of Child abduction, where the child is forced to speak up for the abductor, because of the unconscious survival instinct and bonding which arises during the hostage situation.
Refer earlier blogpostings:
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed.
The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm, Sweden, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28 in 1973.
In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term "Stockholm Syndrome" was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast. Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm.
In 2007, a group of scholars studied twelve highly-publicized cases of Stockholm syndrome, publishing their results in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia.
According to the psychoanalytic view of the syndrome, the tendency might well be the result of employing the strategy evolved by newborn babies to form an emotional attachment to the nearest powerful adult in order to maximize the probability that this adult will enable — at the very least — the survival of the child, if not also prove to be a good parental figure. This syndrome is considered a prime example for the defense mechanism of identification.
Potential examples of Stockholm syndrome
Colleen Stan, a.k.a. "Carol Smith" was held captive from 1977 until 1984 by Cameron and Janice Hooker in locked wooden boxes. She slept in a coffin-like box under Hookers' bed. During her imprisonment Colleen was consistently tortured and sexually assaulted to the point of complete mental and physical subservience.
Millionaire heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army. After two months in captivity, she actively took part in a robbery they were orchestrating. Her unsuccessful legal defense was that she suffered from Stockholm syndrome and was coerced into aiding the SLA. She was convicted and imprisoned for her actions in the robbery, though her sentence was commuted in February 1979 by President Jimmy Carter, and she received a Presidential pardon from Bill Clinton.
Natascha Kampusch, a 10-year old Austrian child who was kidnapped by Wolfgang Priklopil before escaping at the age of 18 in 2006, showed signs of having suffered from Stockholm syndrome, as evidenced by her grieving after her captor's suicide, although she explicitly denied ever commiserating with him, stating that with his death, she lost the chance to get several questions answered.
Shawn Hornbeck was kidnapped at age 11 in 2002 and held for four years by Michael J. Devlin in Missouri. Shawn Hornbeck started using Devlin's last name and despite talking to police on two separate occasions about other unrelated matters, Shawn Hornbeck did not seek the assistance of law enforcement. There have been many questions raised in the media reports surrounding his rescue in January 2007 about why he did not speak out earlier leading to reported speculation that he suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. However, there are many, including other victims of sexual abuse, and others who have been victims of kidnappings, who have expressed their understanding and support Shawn's decisions not to make an attempt to escape.
Elizabeth Smart, a 14 year old girl, was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City in June 2002 by two members of a fundamentalist polygamist sect, the homeless preacher Brian David "Emmanuel" Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee. At first Smart was kept tethered to a tree in a wooded canyon, dressed in white robes, and confined to a twenty-foot long trough with a lean-to over it, but after two months, the couple was able to take the girl with them to restaurants and other public places, her face veiled, and she no longer tried to escape. The trio travelled to San Diego, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, with Smart claiming to be the couple's daughter, but they eventually returned to Utah. By this time, Smart had become so attached to her captors that when she was finally approached by Utah law enforcement officials, who had been searching for her for nine months, she told them that she was 18 years old and Mitchell's polygamous wife. Only when she was shown a picture of herself as she had looked before her abduction did she admit she was, in fact, Elizabeth Smart.