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Definition / Meaning of

Stockholm Syndrome

Categories: Business and Management,

The effect in which hostage victims form emotional attachment or fondness towards their captors. The Syndrome is named after the 1973 'Norrmalmstorg Robbery' - an armed raid on Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, Sweden. The bank's employees were held hostage from 23-28 August, during which time some of the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, even defending them after being freed. The term Stockholm Syndrome was first used by criminologist/psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, when assisting police during the siege, referring to the Syndrome in a news broadcast. It was defined in more detail by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to aid the management of hostage situations. While Stockholm Syndrome chiefly and originally refers to hostage situations the term extends to other forms of 'traumatic bonding', not necessarily dependent on a hostage situation, more broadly describing the somewhat counter-intuitive tendency among certain folk for strong emotional connections to develop within an abusive relationship. At a slightly milder but nevertheless still very worrying level we see the same principle extending to abusive employment situations and other 'working' relationships, where badly-treated and exploited workers can develop strangely positive feelings towards abusive bosses/employers. Whether driven by fear, dependence, gratitude (for limiting the level of abuse), survival impulse, or various other possible factors, the Stockholm Syndrome remains puzzling and paradoxical at any level, and yet a very real human tendency in certain situations.

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