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Mental Mondays: How To Know If You Have Stockholm Syndrome

Mental Mondays: How To Know If You Have Stockholm Syndrome



once watched a crime series. It was an episode with policemen trying to release two girls from the hands of their abuser and captor. The older girl, who has been with the psychopath for eight years, didn’t want to part with him. She pulled out a rifle to defend herself, the captor, and the other girl from the cops. The cops! This girl has what is called Stockholm Syndrome.

Stockholm Syndrome is popular among hostages and victims of sex trafficking. The victims develop feelings of empathy, trust, and even affection toward their captors. But, how does one know if they have this syndrome? What causes one to love a person that has caused them so much pain? And what are the ways to seek treatment and therapy?

What is Stockholm Syndrome?

Photo: Jefferson Palomique/Pexels

It is a psychological condition where a captive has feelings of admiration, trust, empathy, and love towards the captor in a way that would prevent them from leaving their captors.

Stockholm Syndrome is often associated with traumatic experiences that include:

  • Kidnapping
  • Human trafficking
  • Childhood trauma
  • Abusive relationships
  • Sex trafficking
  • Membership in cults or extreme religious groups

These experiences can be incredibly distressing and may cause the victim to feel powerless and vulnerable. To cope with these feelings, the captive may develop positive feelings towards their captor to regain some control over the situation.

Stockholm Syndrome in abusive relationships

Photo: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

While this condition is often associated with hostage situations, it can also occur in abusive relationships. In this context, the abuser may use manipulation and coercion to control their partner, leading the victim to develop feelings of empathy and even love towards the abuser. This occurs especially when the victim is convinced that the abuse is his or her fault. The victim may feel trapped in the relationship due to financial constraints or some sort of gratification and is unable to leave, despite the abuse.

Signs of Stockholm Syndrome

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As difficult as it might sound, there are terrifying signs that indicate that an individual has developed this syndrome. These signs include:

  • Defending the captor or abuser, even when others are critical.
  • Developing positive feelings towards the captor or abuser.
  • Feeling empathy or sympathy towards the captor or abuser.
  • Believing that the captor or abuser is not responsible for their actions.
  • Feeling worthless and dependent on their abuser.
  • Feeling a sense of loyalty or gratitude towards the captor or abuser.
  • Identifying with the captor or abuser


What are the effects

The repercussions of Stockholm syndrome can be dreadful and have a big impact on someone’s mental health, just like in the movie I mentioned earlier. People who suffer from Stockholm Syndrome may have:

  • Trouble building healthy connections and have problems with self-esteem and trust.
  • Depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
  • Persistent mood issues such as elevated anxiety, despair, or irritability.
  • Continuous hopelessness, worthlessness, or emotions of helplessness.
  • Loss of enthusiasm or drive for activities or connections.
  • A heightened risk for long-term health problems.
  • Health issues related to poor living conditions in captivity, such as anaemia, hunger, insomnia, etc.
  • Increased likelihood of experiencing future abuse, violence, or crime.

Therapy for Stockholm Syndrome

Photo: Alex Green/Pexels

Treatment for Stockholm Syndrome typically involves therapy and counseling, which can help individuals to work through the trauma they have experienced and develop healthy coping mechanisms. In addition to traditional talk therapy, other forms of therapy include Cognitive-behavioral Therapy and Trauma-focused Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Accelerated Resolution Therapy.

It is important to note that recovery from Stockholm Syndrome can be a long and difficult process. However, with the right support and resources, individuals can learn to overcome the effects of this condition and move towards a healthier and happier life.

If you suspect someone you know may be experiencing this syndrome, it is essential to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. It is not helpful to judge or blame the victim for their condition. Instead, encourage them to seek help and support them throughout the recovery process.

Featured image: Jose carlos Cerdeno/iStock

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