Stockholm Sydrome - A Psychological Defense To Cope With Oppression?I've been thinking about the concept of the refused suffering from something similar to Stockholm Syndrome (a survival mechanism). I've been feeling very oppressed, and look forward with nervous anticipation to the day when I can break free from my refuser/captor.
Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. See following definition of codependency.
Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition; and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of or control of another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one's own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns. Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for the codependent. - Wikipedia
I told my friend the other day that I was thinking of leaving my husband. During our conversation, I commented that I didn't get how this happened to me. I have always been an optimistic person, patient, happy, easy-going, and loyal. Then it occurred to me that I just described my faults. I was too optimistic, too patient, and loyal to a fault (faithful to an exceptional degree, even though the dysfunctional relationship is unhealthy and damaging). Maybe these are common characteristics the refused share. I have been told by my therapist, my mom, and my friends (before they even knew of the SM), that I always put myself last and have to start taking care of myself.
I read an article recently which stated that anyone could virtually acquire Stockholm Syndrome, provided the following conditions existed:
1) Perceived threat to survival and the belief that one's captor is willing to act on that threat
2) The captive's perception of small kindnesses from the captor within a context of terror
3) Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor
4) Perceived inability to escape
Although repeatedly rejected and neglected by our emotionally cut off refusers, we are sustained only by the crumbs they throw us, which might come in the form of a weak compliments or empty promises. We put up with more of the same, because they did after all give us flowers for our anniversary, or prepare the meals for the week.
The refused may isolate themselves, due to the fact that they often become depressed. We believe the refusers' lies that they are trying to improve things for us and we want to believe them and have faith in the marriage, despite their inability to follow through, and their ready arsenal of rehearsed excuses.
I'd like to suggest that the refused does have a perceived inability to escape. Often times they are dependent on their spouse financially, and their self esteem is at an all time low, feeding their belief that they would never be able to make it in the world alone. They are complacent, because in their current relationship they know what to expect (not expect as it were), and the fear of the unknown is exaggerated due to their lack of confidence.
In an article from the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Stockholm syndrome is said to be "a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein a positive bond between hostage (refuser) and captor (refused) occurs that appears irrational in light of the frightening ordeal endured by the victims. In essence, eventually, the hostage views the perpetrator as giving life by simply not taking it." This is where the refused defend their refuser, saying "but they are a good person, they pay the bills and help with the housework." The refused also protects their refuser (for example: keeping the SM secret), which enables them to continue their neglect.
The article continued with an explanation, "Some experts say that the hostage regresses to, perhaps, a state of infancy; the captive must cry for food (in ILIASM case - sex/affection), remain silent, and exist in an extreme state of dependence. In contrast, the perpetrator serves as a mother figure protecting her child from a threatening outside world, including law enforcement’s deadly weapons (or in the the refused spouses' case: reinforcing our doubts regarding money, the kid's health, finding new home etc.). The victim then begins a struggle for survival, both relying on and identifying with the captor. Possibly, hostages’ motivation to live outweighs their impulse to hate the person who created their dilemma."
Thanks for indulging my thoughts. I found the concept interesting, and just thought looking at the situation from yet another perspective might provide some clarity. It is definitely food for thought.