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Stockholm Syndrome

The Stockholm syndrome is a common psychological response that occurs in hostages, as well as other captives, wherein the captive begins to identify closely with the captors and their agenda and demands.

The name of the syndrome refers to a botched bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. In August 1973, two men held four bank employees of Sveriges Kreditbank in an 11-by-47-foot bank vault for six days. During the siege, one female captive initiated sexual relations with her captor. Their relationship persisted after the bank robber was tried and convicted.

Stories of this seemingly incongruous bond between captive and captor resurfaced repeatedly in subsequent hostage situations. The most infamous case is that of Patricia Hearst. In 1974, ten weeks after being taken hostage by the Symbionese Liberation Army, Hearst helped her kidnappers rob a California bank and reportedly became the lover of one kidnapper.

During the ...

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