Between Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome
Part 1: The Black Hole of Stockholm Syndrome
On 23 August 1973, Jan-Erik Olsson, on leave from prison, went into Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, central Stockholm and attempted to rob the bank. During the crime, several bank employees were held hostage in a bank vault from August 23 to 28, 1973, while their captors negotiated with police. During this standoff, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, rejected assistance from government officials at one point, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. Criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who was hired as a consultant psychiatrist to Stockholm police, called this phenomenon "Norrmalmstorgssyndromet" (Swedish), which means The Norrmalmstorg Syndrome (English). Perhaps to prevent serious tongue-twisting accidents outside Sweden, it was later simply known as Stockholm Syndrome.
Stockholm Syndrome is described as a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy, sympathy, loyalty, or affection (even sexual attraction) and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the hostages, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. As illustrated in Malcolm in the Middle (an American sitcom created by Linwood Boomer for Fox between 2000 and 2006):
Malcolm: Don't you know about Stockholm Syndrome? You're starting to identify with your captors.
Reese: My captors?! These guys saved my life, man!
Malcolm: Only because they decided not to kill you!
Reese: Same thing.
-Malcolm in the Middle
In essence, Stockholm Syndrome is an irrational and counterproductive bonding between hostage(s) and captor(s) that develops and complicates a hostage situation and works against the well-being and release of the hostage(s). According to the Wikipedia website, the FBI's Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 8% of victims show evidence of Stockholm Syndrome.
Therefore, thankfully, the majority of us will never suffer from Stockholm Syndrome because, duh, most of us — knock on wood, God willing, deo volente, hopefully, Insha Allah, ojala que, espero que — will never be captured and kept as hostages.
Or, really? Are we that sure?
[To be continued.]
Johannes Tan, Indonesian Translator & Conference Interpreter