Real Life Examples Of Stockholm Syndrome

By Jack Clark 1 year ago

1. The Robbery Of Norrmalmstorg

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This is where the theory of 'Stockholm Syndrome' originated. Two armed robbers tried to rob a bank in Stockholm and took multiple hostages. The hostages eventually became really friendly towards the end of their captivity, and one of them even gave one of the bank robbers a hug as they were arrested.

2. Colleen Stan

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Colleen Stan was 20 years old when she was kidnapped by Cameron Hooker, who tortured and sexually abused her for 7 years. He took her to see her family and even stayed there overnight, and she didn't say a word out of loyalty to him. She eventually escaped with the help of Hooker's wife, and he received a prison sentence of over 100 years.

3. Mariano Querol

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Querol was kidnapped in 1996 in order for the kidnappers to receive ransom money. Mariano ended up bonding with his captors, and, when he was eventually released, pleaded with the court to give the kidnappers reduced sentences. Mariano did say that he knew he was suffering with Stockholm Syndrome, but felt bad for the criminals.

4. Natascha Kampusch

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She was only 10 years old when she was kidnapped, and was severely abused and tortured for 8 years. When she eventually escaped, her kidnapper, Wolfgang Priklopil, killed himself before he could be charged. However, for years after Natascha grieved for him and said that she had developed a love for him.

5. Jaycee Dugard

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A truly sad case, Jaycee was stolen at just 11 years old, and was held captive for nearly 20 years. She was abused repeatedly and had 2 children with her kidnapper. Eventually, when authorities got suspicious and got involved, she even defended her kidnapper and lied about their circumstance. When the truth did come out she admitted that she was doing what she could to survive.

6. Shawn Hornbeck

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Shawn Hornbeck was kidnapped when he was 11 after Michael Devlin ran him over in his car deliberately and stole him away. For years, Devlin sexually abused his victim, Hornbeck admitted to having a deep fear for Devlin and stated this is why he didn't try to escape. After he was rescued, he stated that he was "brainwashed" by Devlin.

7. Sarah Maynard

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The 13-year-old was kidnapped after her mom, brother and her mom's friend was killed by the criminal Matthew Hoffman. Hoffman imprisoned his victim, Sarah Maynard, in his basement where she only had leaves to sleep on. Sarah was eventually rescued but only after Hoffman sadly abused her repeatedly. She suffered Stockholm Syndrome as a result of this.

8. Mary McElroy

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Mary McElroy was kidnapped in 1933 after four men broke into her home and stole her at gunpoint. They put up a ransom for her, and eventually was released without physical harm after the ransom was paid by her father. Afterwards, she was adamant that her kidnappers did her no harm and felt really guilty when the criminals were sentenced.

9. Mackenzie Phillips

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A very tragic case whereby Mackenzies' own biological father groomed her with drugs and abused her on a regular basis. After a while, sexual abuse became 'consensual' and Mackenzie viewed her father as her husband that she had a relationship with. This was all a coping mechanism to deal with the trauma, and she later discussed this after she was freed from her abusive father.

10. Elizabeth Smart

Image Source: NBC News
In 2002, Elizabeth Smart, who was only 14 at the time, was kidnapped in Utah by Brian Mitchell and his partner Wanda Barzee. Smart was abused, and had her and her families life threatened, which is a big reason as so why she never tried to escape. Mitchell moved her around the country, but were eventually sighted back in Utah and Smart was thankfully rescued.

11. Patricia Hearst

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Hearst was kidnapped by a terrorist group in 1974 and she was held captive for over a year. She was abused by the group, but shockingly she ended up joining them as a member, and took part in a number of crimes. The FBI eventually arrested her and she was sentenced to jail time, but after she was analysed by experts it was a classic case of brainwashing, and the then president pardoned her.

12. Thomas Sutherland

Image Source: The New York Times
Thomas Sutherland was one of three men that were held captive by a terrorist organisation in Beirut for over four years. He was often beaten to a pulp and was blindfolded whilst it happened so he couldn't see anything. After he was released, Sutherland said that he felt his captors were "doing the right thing", and later realised he was suffering with Stockholm Syndrome.

13. Terry Anderson

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The second of the three men who spent well over four years imprisoned during the 'Lebanon Hostage Crisis', Terry Anderson racked up over 2,000 days as a captive. The terrorists would apparently taunt him by falsely giving him hope that they might release him and his fellow captives.

14. Terry Waite

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Terry Waite was the third man to spend over 4 years as a captive in Beirut, having spent a total of 1,763 days as a prisoner. There were apparently over 100 people who were held hostage during the 'Lebanon Hostage Crisis' in 1980, and a lot of them were taunted and beaten everyday. Waite was threatened with death and would routinely be told that he would be executed.

15. Steven Stayner

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During the year of 1972, Kenneth Parnell approached the then 7-year-old Steven Stayner on his way home from school and kidnapped him and held him captive for the next seven years. Apparently, Stayner was completely terrified of Parnell, after years of abuse, but stated that "after a while I was happy". It wasn't until Parnell kidnapped another young boy that Stayner took action, escaping with the boy and going to the police.

16. Feeling Positive Towards Attacker

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One of the classic symptoms shown by sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome is where the abused victim has been mentally broken to the point that they actually start to feel a sense of positivity towards their captor. You see this in a lot of cases where the victim has been held for a long time with little to no contact with the outside world.

17. Feeling Love

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In some rare cases, victims who have been held captive for a while and who are forced into sexual acts, can sometimes even feel a sense of love towards their abuser. This might be because their abuser is in some cases they only other human they have any contact with and they can project these strong feelings onto them.

18. Having Sympathy

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A lot of sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome often report that they feel a great deal of sympathy towards their abuser. Psychologists don't know for sure why this is the case, but some speculate that it is to do with the victim and their internal coping mechanisms when dealing with trauma.

19. Wanting To Help The Captor

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There have been some cases of Stockholm Syndrome whereby the victim will do anything they can to help their captor in whatever it is they need doing. This might have something to do with the victim wanting their abuser to see them in a positive light, or that they will do anything to appease the captor in order to receive better treatment.

20. Not Wanting To Escape

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There have been many cases of Stockholm Syndrome where the victim has had chances to escape during their imprisonment, but decided not to. This is a big sign that someone is experiencing Stockholm Syndrome, as people would assume they'd take any chance they could get to run away, but often the victim is terrified of the consequences.

21. Protecting Their Captor

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There have been plenty of examples of people who have been kidnapped that build a deep bond with their abuser. A lot of them would do anything to help protect their captor in order to keep them happy, and will often end up lying about their current circumstance, or not using their real name when speaking with people who might know the kidnapping case.

22. Feeling Hate For The Police

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In situations where the police are suspicious about a potential abuser and victim relationship, or in cases where bank robbers have taken people hostage, people who suffer from Stockholm Syndrome can exhibit strongly negative feelings towards the police or any kind of authority figure.

23. Disliking Anyone That Wants To Help

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This is similar to victims exhibiting negative feelings towards police or authority figures, where the victim can feel hatred towards or lash out at anyone who might be trying to help them get out of their current situations. A lot of victims don't feel like they need help and they don't want to be separated from their abusers.

24. Feeling Sad

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Whilst a lot of people experiencing Stockholm Syndrome are aware of it after they've been released or rescued, they can't just switch off their emotions and feelings. When finally separated, the victims can often feel a sense of sadness that they'll no longer share a bond with their abuser, and it can take a while for them to emotionally process this.

25. Grieving Their Deceased Captor

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In some cases, victims showing signs of Stockholm Syndrome will often feel a great sense of grief, especially if their past abuser or captor happens to pass away. This can often be because they would have spent a great deal of time with their captor, often developing strong feelings towards them which don't easily go away.

26. Seeing Humanity In Their Captor

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Even though a lot of victims who have been kidnapped and imprisoned get put through horrible abuse and assault, if it often the case that they can still see some kind of humanity in their captor. If their abuser occasionally acts positive towards their victim, or shows signs of compassion, the victim can latch onto these feelings and believe they're being treated well.

27. Believe They Have The Same Morals

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It is often the case the victims can align their own goals or morals with those of their captor. This is most likely a defence or coping mechanism, whereby they feel that if they internalise their captors goals and morals as their own, that the abuser might view them more favorably and bestow less abuse upon them.

28. Believing Their Abuser Is Compassionate

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A lot of victims can often believe that their captor has compassion and is actually treating them well. There are many examples of victims being released and pleading with law enforcement to show compassion to the criminals, and in some cases even ask the judges in charge of sentencing them to go easy on them, as they felt that they were treated well by their captors and they don't deserve any punishment.

29. Denial Of Abuse

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For some victims, especially those who see their abusers in a positive light, can often show signs of denial that anything is even wrong with their relationship. They seem to believe that the abuse and assault they suffer is either not happening, or that it is okay for it to happen.

30. Getting PTSD

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that occurs in patients who have often undergone a severe amount of stress or trauma in a small amount of time, or have been consistently exposed to something that they find traumatic. Stockholm Syndrome is often synonymous with PTSD and victims will often display symptoms of this.

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