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  • Today, we're talking about Stockholm Syndrom

  • What is it,

  • and how does it apply in therapy?

  • *Music*

  • This is one of the most fascinating topics

  • I've gotten to research thus far

  • so thank you to all of you who've requested it.

  • And in all honesty I knew what

  • Stockholm Syndrome was, but I didn't

  • really know the applications

  • or ramifications of it

  • within my clinical therapy practice,

  • so this was so interesting.

  • Stockholm Syndrome is named after

  • a bank robbery that happened in 1973

  • in Stockholm, Sweden.

  • There were bank employees that were kept

  • for six days.

  • They were first wrapped in dynamite and

  • thrown into the bank vault.

  • And the thing that happened that shocked

  • everybody, is that throughout

  • those six days,

  • those captive people wrapped in dynamite,

  • for some reason,

  • became eerily attached to their captors.

  • They felt bad for them.

  • They even turned away police

  • and assistance to get them out of there.

  • They were not helpful at all

  • and even once released, some of them

  • still kept in touch with their captors

  • and wouldn't testify against them

  • in court.

  • So everybody thought,

  • "What the hell is going on?"

  • "Why won't they tell us anything?"

  • "Why are they acting like they were caring

  • and nice and they cared about what happened to them?"

  • "What gives?"

  • What they learned is that,

  • psychologically, in order to get through

  • terrifying situations, we often attach

  • to our captors as a way to almost

  • survive it.

  • Thinking 'Well, I care about them"

  • "I understand what's going on with them"

  • "See, they're keeping me alive"

  • "They're really nice".

  • And in a way, by being nice to our captors

  • we're increasing the chances that we will

  • live through it.

  • So, oddly enough, it's like our brain's

  • way of helping us get through an abusive

  • or scary and traumatic situation.

  • This applies in a clinical therapy

  • practice, more along the lines of people

  • who are in controlling or abusive

  • relationships.

  • For example, we find a lot of battered

  • men or women

  • will refuse to press charges against their

  • spouse or loved one who abused them.

  • Many even bail them out of jail after

  • the police have taken them in because

  • they've abused them.

  • Now let's get into the fascinating part,

  • and the reason Stockholm Syndrome

  • takes hold.

  • There are four factors that need to be

  • in place, and need to happen, so let's

  • talk about them.

  • The first, and the kind of obvious one,

  • is that we must feel threatened-

  • either physically or psychologically,

  • and we have to believe that the abuser

  • or captor will actually act out

  • on that threat.

  • The way that we find this happens

  • most commonly, is indirectly.

  • Maybe it's breaking things,

  • throwing things around,

  • they may even indirectly talk

  • about harming someone or something

  • that you really care about-

  • like threatening to get rid of a

  • prized possession, or to harm an animal

  • that you love and care for.

  • The abuser's goal is actually to get you

  • to believe that the harm that

  • they could do is possible,

  • and may be imminent.

  • The second condition-

  • and this is where it starts to,

  • you can see how it can psychologically

  • shift for the person being abused, is if

  • the abuser will then show some

  • small kindness.

  • In the instance in Stockholm, Sweden,

  • in that actual event,

  • the captors said "Well, they fed us and

  • gave us water, and they talked about how

  • hard their life had been as a child".

  • They will do something to show you

  • a little kindness to take care of you

  • a little bit, so that you believe that

  • they're not all bad.

  • What this does, is it gives the abused

  • person hope that the situation

  • could change.

  • This could be a small token like

  • a birthday card, or remembering to

  • bring dinner home-

  • any small thing.

  • A lot of abused spouses will say

  • "Well, they didn't abuse me when they

  • normally would."

  • So even the absence of abuse

  • with no positive thing added in

  • can feel like a small token

  • of kindness.

  • And you know how I talked about that

  • event in Stockholm, Sweden,

  • how they shared some events

  • about themselves,

  • that's another part of it-

  • and that goes into this number two,

  • that they'll share some hard times

  • they've been through,

  • or times they've been abused,

  • by a mother, or father

  • or caretaker.

  • And so that gives them, kind of,

  • it humanizes them a little bit,

  • and makes us feel kind of

  • bad for them.

  • The third condition

  • that needs to take place

  • is being isolated from other perspectives.

  • The way that this can play out in abusive

  • relationships, there are a lot

  • of examples that were given,

  • one of which is

  • "I don't like your friends because they

  • talk bad about me.

  • I don't want you hanging out with them anymore."

  • And if we do,

  • we get abused when we get home,

  • and so in a way, we're slowly being

  • conditioned against seeing our friends.

  • There was an example of a woman who was speaking in one

  • of the forums I was reading-

  • where her mother would call just to talk to her,

  • and tell her that she

  • was worried about her

  • and the kids, and so because of that,

  • then the husband would find out

  • and would abuse her more for talking

  • with the mother, so she slowly

  • started telling her mom,

  • "Please stop calling, you're just causing

  • us trouble."

  • "You're ruining our relationship."

  • And so, since we're so isolated from any

  • positive person in our life

  • or any person who actually

  • has any insight and is loving

  • and supportive, all we can see

  • is that abuse cycle, and that abuse life.

  • Another way that this is described is

  • "walking on eggshells".

  • We will do everything in our control

  • to make sure that we keep the

  • abuse at bay.

  • That may mean seeing things,

  • and our whole life and perspective

  • from the abuser's perspective

  • to make sure that everything is

  • just the way they like it,

  • because if it's not,

  • we don't know what's gonna happen,

  • and we may fear that they will hurt us.

  • The fourth and final condition that must

  • take place, is that we actually feel that

  • we are not able to escape.

  • This can be in a lot of fashions,

  • but one of the most common,

  • is actually through money.

  • Many abusers will over extend them,

  • as a family, or as a couple

  • so that if the person that's being abused

  • tries to leave,

  • they actually can't afford anything,

  • and they may feel like they'll be out

  • on the street.

  • Another way this can happen, is kind of

  • through the emotional abuse avenue,

  • where they will know intimate

  • or embarrassing things about you,

  • or even threaten to shame you publically.

  • There was a woman who was speaking

  • in one of the forums that I've read,

  • saying that her ex boyfriend made her

  • do some sexual acts that she wasn't

  • comfortable with, and then when she

  • threatened to leave, he said that

  • he'd videotaped it and was going to

  • release it on Facebook to all of her

  • family and friends, and so that

  • fear, and that embarrassment and shame,

  • held her captive for another two years.

  • This can also play out in a threat of

  • suicide.

  • A lot of the abusers will say to the

  • abused, that they will kill themselves

  • if they leave.

  • Or, they'll threaten homicide.

  • They'll threaten to kill a child,

  • or an animal, or a parent, or someone

  • else that we love,

  • if you leave.

  • And so, the person who's being abused

  • feels like they really can't,

  • because they don't want anything bad to

  • happen to the person because they

  • actually love and care about them,

  • or the other people in their lives.

  • I'm sure if you've learned anything

  • about the abuse cycle, you can kind of

  • see how this plays into it, and how it's

  • so eerily similar.

  • And the abuse cycle,

  • I'm looking down at my notes just to

  • make sure I get them in order,

  • is tension building,

  • incident,

  • reconciliation,

  • and calm.

  • And we go around and around.

  • And so you can see how these

  • certain conditions,

  • as they play into it,

  • can be so similar to the abuse cycle,

  • and that's why people get stuck in it.

  • If you know someone who's in an abusive

  • or controlling relationship,

  • the best thing that we can do,

  • is just listen,

  • and try to be supportive.

  • Don't talk bad about the relationship,

  • don't get them to leave, and try to force

  • them to leave,

  • because that can only build on

  • the shame and embarrassment that they

  • may already feel due to that relationship.

  • And just being there to listen, and

  • support them, is honestly, at times,

  • what they need.

  • And encouraging them to get some