Between Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome
Part 4: Shooting the Messenger and BDSM
First, the hostage(s) may show resentment or negative feelings towards family, friends, authorities or third parties who try to rescue and/or liberate them from the situation. Instead of welcoming the metaphorical "Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) Team" rescue efforts, the hostages deny to be liberated. They want to be controlled and manipulated by their captors indefinitely. This "shooting the messenger" attitude usually surfaces when brainwashed cult members show resentment against family members who try to awaken them from their Stockholm Syndrome. It's common for cult members to resent family members who try to "awaken" them to no avail—often with disastrous results.
In November 1978 cult leader James Warren "Jim" Jones organized the mass murder-suicide of 909 Peoples Temple members (including over 200 children) by cyanide poisoning in Jonestown, Guyana. In April 1993, David Koresh and more than 70 of his Branch Davidians followers burned to death following a blaze at their Waco, TX, compound after a 51-day standoff with federal law enforcement agents. Then in March 1997, San Diego police discovered the bodies of 39 Heaven's Gate members who had committed mass suicide through self-suffocation with plastic bags. These members believed they were reaching an alien space craft following the Hale-Bopp comet.
Sadly, no amount of intervention from family members would likely have saved those brainwashed victims. It's instructive to cite Scottish author Iain M. Banks' analysis on David Koresh: "Cults and sects and religions tend to be set up by men because they are a power trip. Look at David Koresh of Waco fame. He tried to be a rock star and failed. As a prophet though, he got the rock star life, the sex and drugs and worship, without having to be one." This groupie-like adoration is exactly the next characteristic of Stockholm Syndrome.
Second, there are positive feelings and irrational bonding between the hostages towards their captors, and vice versa. As outlined in Part 1, hostages suffering from Stockholm Syndrome express empathy, sympathy, loyalty, or affection, and have positive feelings toward their captors, to the point of defending and identifying with the captors. A notable example is the case of Patricia Hearst, an American heiress from the Hearst publishing empire. She was kidnapped in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a student-led group in Berkeley, California, which campaigned for black prisoners' release. Isolated and threatened with death, Hearst was brainwashed to support SLA's cause, make propaganda announcements for SLA and participate in the robbery of Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. (She was found 19 months after her kidnapping, by which time she was considered not merely a victim but a fugitive. Her conviction and long prison sentence were widely seen as unjust, but the procedural correctness of her trial was upheld by higher courts. Eventually President Carter commuted her sentence, and she was pardoned by President Clinton.)
Third, there are interesting parallels between Stockholm Syndrome and BDSM erotic practices. Now… wait a second. I do not mean "that" kind of psycho-sexual BDSM as illustrated by E.L. James in her Fifty Shades of Grey. (As if I have read the book! So far, the mixed reviews on Amazon.com have not motivated me to read Fifty Shades of Grey. Then I thought about skipping the book altogether and just watch the film, but again the 1-star review from Rotten Tomatoes and 2-star review from have IMDb failed to spark any enthusiasm; though, as they say, never say never. But I digress…) Stockholm Syndrome, from a clinical perspective, consists of similar components of BDSM: bondage (capture-bonding, lost of freedom), discipline (restrictions enforced by the captors), domination (of the captors), submission (of the hostages), rewards (for obedience), punishment (for deviance), even sado-masochism (as manifested in karoshi, Black Friday, etc.). Now, that I get your attention…
[To be continued.]
Johannes Tan, Indonesian Translator & Conference Interpreter