What is Stockholm syndrome?

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Stockholm Syndrome

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Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response. A captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands. Hostages bond with their captors in an emotional connection, where they sympathize with them.

The expected emotional reactions when someone is held captive are mainly fear and terror. However, with this syndrome, hostages develop positive feelings over the course of time. They may also refuse to cooperate with police and government authorities.

The term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ was first used by the media in 1973 when four hostages were taken during a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. They were held hostage in the bank’s vault for six days.  The hostages defended their captors after being released and would not agree to testify in court against them.

Stockholm syndrome has never been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM, the standard tool for diagnostic of psychiatric illnesses and disorders, mainly due to the lack of a consistent body of academic research.