How does Stockholm Syndrome affect?

Stockholm Syndrome

1 definition

The Stockholm Syndrome describes a psychological effect in which victims of e.g. hostage-taking develop positive emotional feelings towards their kidnappers. The spectrum can range from simple sympathy to cooperation and, in extreme cases, to feeling love for the perpetrator.

2 naming

The term comes from a hostage situation that took place in the Swedish capital Stockholm in August 1973. At that time there was a robbery on a bank in which four of the employees were taken hostage. In the next five days it was noticed - not least through media lighting - that the hostages were apparently more afraid of the police than of the hostage-takers. After the end of the hostage-taking, the victims continued to feel no hatred or thoughts of revenge towards the perpetrators - on the contrary: They felt great gratitude for having been released by the criminals. The sympathy went so far that the bank employees advocated a mild sentence and visited the perpetrators in prison.

3 causes

  • Distortion of perception as a result of the loneliness of being held hostage
  • Hostages only see themselves as a random part of the situation
  • Reluctance on the part of the police makes hostages feel left alone
  • excessive perception of the perpetrators' actions; even the smallest concessions are seen as an act of great grace
  • often the perpetrators behave relatively benevolently towards the hostages, as they represent a kind of protection for them
  • Identification with the goals of the perpetrators as self-protection or compensation for the maximum loss of independence and control that a hostage-taking entails