The Stockholm Syndrome

William Meller - The Stockholm Syndrome
The Stockholm syndrome is an emotional response that happens to some abuse and hostage victims when they have positive feelings toward an abuser or captor.

The phenomenon known as Stockholm syndrome refers to a paradoxical relationship between a captive and a captor in which the captive displays a strong sense of bonding to the captor in such a way that he/she is willing to help or protect the captor even from law enforcement agencies who might be on the trail of the captor to bring him/her to justice.

The name of the syndrome is derived from a botched bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. In August 1973 four employees of Sveriges Kreditbank were held hostage in the bank’s vault for six days. During the standoff, a seemingly incongruous bond developed between captive and captor. One hostage, during a telephone call with Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, stated that she fully trusted her captors but feared that she would die in a police assault on the building.

The most infamous example of Stockholm syndrome maybe that involving kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst. In 1974, some 10 weeks after being taken hostage by the Symbionese Liberation Army, Hearst helped her kidnappers rob a California bank.

Symptoms of Stockholm syndrome:

 - The victim develops positive feelings toward the person holding them captive or abusing them.

 - The victim develops negative feelings toward police, authority figures, or anyone who might be trying to help them get away from their captor. They may even refuse to cooperate with their captor.

 - The victim begins to perceive their captor’s humanity and believe they have the same goals and values.

Ever observed a friend who doesn't mind being heckled and made fun of? And yet the group shall make him the scapegoat of all the jokes? They would laugh with everyone and pretend like nothing happened. Why do they have to do that every time? Because they are insecure of being alienated and left alone. Soon no matter how abusive the jokes get, guess what? They shall stay in the group. 

If you know such a person in your group, please stand up for them and chances are you'll uncover something you didn't know.

I've been thinking and decided that it was a good sharing because so much of our self-worth in modern times is defined and derived by work, we are at risk for experiencing Corporate Stockholm Syndrome when put into a certain work environment for long enough. Corporate Stockholm Syndrome can be defined as employees of a business beginning to identify with—and be deeply loyal to—an employer who mistreats them (defined in this situation as verbal abuse, demanding overly long hours, and generally ignoring the well-being and emotional needs of the employee). 

As with the captor/captive dynamic, the employer is certainly in control of the employee’s fate (they sign the much-needed paycheck and typically can terminate employment at any time).

The employee experiencing Corporate Stockholm Syndrome typically displays a tendency to become emotionally attached to the company to the detriment of their own emotional health.

The company culture in which Corporate Stockholm Syndrome thrives will have certain traits. 

It will often tolerate—in fact implicitly encourage—employees to verbally abuse each other when someone isn’t seen as working hard enough or not being a “team player." 

The inculcation of the “company culture” is viewed as significantly important by the management. This is aimed at cultivating loyalty to the company while it has no similar loyalty to the emotional wellbeing of the employees.

The worker experiencing these symptoms is at risk for significant emotional trauma.


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