Stockholm Syndrome: What You Need to Know

Stockholm Syndrome: What You Need to Know

Do you know what Stockholm Syndrome is? It’s a phenomenon that sometimes happens in hostage situations, where the hostages start to feel sympathy and even affection for their captors. While this may seem strange, it’s actually a survival mechanism designed to help people cope with difficult situations. In this blog post, we will discuss the what is Stockholm syndrome, its symptoms, and its causes. Also, how to deal with them.

What Is Stockholm Syndrome?

what is Stockholm SyndromeStockholm syndrome is a psychological term that is used to describe a condition where people who have been taken hostage or kidnapped start to feel sympathy and even love for their captors. The syndrome gets its name from a hostage situation that took place in Stockholm, Sweden in 1973.

The first time the term was used was in a book by Dr. Frank Ochberg, who described it as “a state of mind that sometimes develops among persons held captive by an armed group.”

People with Stockholm syndrome often develop strong emotional attachments to their kidnappers. And may defend them even when it is clear that they are doing wrong. They may also feel guilty about what is happening to them. In fact, under the influence of this syndrome, some hostages have even helped their captors to escape.

There have been studies that suggest that Stockholm syndrome is not limited to hostages. It can also occur in victims of abuse, domestic violence, and even sexual assault. Even so, the syndrome is not recognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.

But, it is important to know that Stockholm syndrome is a real condition. And if you or someone you know is experiencing it, it is important to get help.

History Behind Stockholm Syndrome

The term “Stockholm Syndrome” was first coined in 1973 after a hostage situation that took place in Stockholm, Sweden. In this case, four hostages began to sympathize with their captors and even defended them when the police tried to raid the building.

Since then, there have been other cases of Stockholm Syndrome around the world. For example, in 1992, nine women who were held captive by a man named David Koresh developed feelings of love and loyalty towards him.

The history of Stockholm Syndrome is still being written, and it will be interesting to see how this phenomenon evolves over time.

Symptoms Of Stockholm Syndrome

Symptoms Of Stockholm SyndromeThere are some clear symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. If you are worried that you or someone you know may be suffering from the syndrome, look for these signs:

  • Feeling an intense loyalty to your captor.
  • A reluctance to seek help or talk about the situation.
  • Have positive feelings towards your captor, such as gratitude or love.
  • Feeling like you owe your captor something.
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family members
  • Feel sympathy for your captor, even if he or she has harmed you.
  • Negative feelings towards authorities or law enforcement.
  • Being defensive of your captor.

These symptoms can manifest in different ways depending on the individual. Some people may become completely devoted to their captors. While others may only display a few of the symptoms.

It’s important to remember that not everyone who experiences Stockholm Syndrome will exhibit all of these signs. If you’re worried about someone, it’s best to reach out for help.

What Causes Stockholm Syndrome?

The causes of the syndrome are still being studied. But some experts believe that it is a result of the victim’s need to bond with their captor in order to survive. However, some of the main causes could define as follows;

  • Fear It is possible that the victim begins to feel grateful for not being killed or hurt by their captor. This could also be mixed with a sense of loyalty or love because the victim may feel like they are the only thing keeping the captor from “going crazy.”
  • Isolation The captives are often kept isolated from the outside world, which can make them feel even more dependent on their captor.
  • Intimidation – In this case, the captor may use physical or emotional threats to control the victim. This could lead to the victim feeling like they have no other choice but to stay with their captor.
  • Bonding process with the captor – The victim may start to see the captor as a friend or even a father figure. This could be due to the fact that the captor is often the only person that the victim has contact with during their time of captivity.

These are some of the most common causes of Stockholm Syndrome. However, every case is unique and there may be other factors that contribute to the development of this syndrome.

Therefore, there are some examples to show you that Stockholm Syndrome is not a specific or rare case, but it could happen to anyone who has been taken captive.

Real-Life Examples

Real-Life ExamplesThere are some real-life examples which are as follows;

Patty Hearst

Patty Hearst was an American heiress who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. She was held captive for 57 days before she eventually joined her captors and participated in a bank robbery. In this case, Hearst was psychologically abused and terrorized by her captors. She later stated that she developed Stockholm Syndrome as a way to survive.

Elizabeth Smart

In 2002, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home in Utah by Brian David Mitchell. Smart was held captive for nine months before she was rescued. During this time, she was repeatedly raped and assaulted by Mitchell. Smart has said that she struggled with Stockholm Syndrome throughout her captivity.

Mary McElroy

Mary McElroyMary McElroy was the first woman to ever be taken hostage by an American president. She was held captive in the White House for three days in 1884. During her time as a hostage, she was threatened with violence and even rape. However, she later stated that she did not develop Stockholm Syndrome.

These examples show that Stockholm Syndrome does not have one specific cause. It can be developed as a result of various factors, including fear, isolation, intimidation, and the bonding process with the captor. It is important to remember that every case is unique and the victims may experience different symptoms. If you or someone you know is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, it is important to get help from a professional therapist.

Treatment For Stockholm Syndrome

Treatment For Stockholm SyndromeHowever, there are treatments for Stockholm Syndrome. The most common approach is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy helps people understand and change their thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their symptoms. It also teaches healthy coping skills. Other approaches include medication and family therapy.

Moreover, the treatment for the syndrome is usually long-term. It is important to stick with the treatment plan and continue working on changing the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to the syndrome. With time, most people improve their symptoms and are able to live healthy, productive lives. Other than therapy, there are a few things you can do to help manage your symptoms.

  • First, try to stay positive and focus on the good things in your life.
  • Second, find healthy ways to cope with stress and emotions.
  • Finally, reach out for support from family and friends. They can provide emotional support and practical help.

If you are struggling with Stockholm Syndrome, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. With treatment, you can improve your symptoms and live a healthier life.

Most importantly, do not forget that you are not alone. There are many people who understand what you are going through and want to help.


Conclusively, Stockholm syndrome is a condition that is characterized by strong emotional ties between a victim and their captor. These feelings can be so strong that the victim may feel like they are in love with their captor or have a sense of loyalty towards them.

While Stockholm syndrome can be very dangerous, it is important to remember that it is possible to break free from these harmful bonds. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of Stockholm syndrome, please seek help immediately.

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