Sunday, November 8, 2015


The emotional "bonding" with captors has been recognized for many years and was found in studies of  abused children, battered/abused women, prisoners of war, cult members, incest victims, criminal hostage situations, concentration camp prisoners and controlling/intimidating relationships.  Victims of abuse and intimidation use emotional bonding with an abuser as a strategy for survival.  Police hostage negotiators no longer view the Stockholm Syndrome reaction as unusual.  Understanding this reaction can improve the chances of survival for the hostages in crime situations.  The negotiators who have training about hostages experiencing Stockholm Syndrome will know that the victims will not be very cooperative with both the rescue or criminal prosecution.  This syndrome is an example of battered women who fail to press charges, bail their battering husband/boyfriend out of jail.  In some cases, the women physically attack police officers when they arrive to rescue them from a violent assault.  In hostage, severe abuse and abusive relationships there are four situations or conditions that are present in the developing of Stockholm Situation. 1. The belief that the abuser will carry out the threats of physical or psychological harm.  2. There is a presence of warmth from the abuser to the victim.  3. Isolation from everyone except the abuser.  4. Believing there is no way to escape from the situation.  Victims of abuse have similar symptoms and behaviors as hostage victims.  The victim has positive feelings toward the abuse/controller.  The victim has negative feelings toward family, friends or authorities that are trying to win their release or authorities trying to rescue/support them.  The reasons and behaviors of the abuser's are supported.  The abuser has positive feelings toward the victim.  The abuser is helped when at times the victim supports their behaviors.  The victim cannot behave in a way that may assist detachment or release from the abuser. In psychology, emotional bonding with captors is a familiar story.  In recent years, media coverage has help explain this behavior of such well-known kidnapping victims as Patty Hearst in 1974 and Elizabeth Smart in 2002.

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