Month: November 2008

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological state in which the victims of a kidnapping, or persons detained against their free will – prisoners – develop a relationship with their captor(s). This solidarity can sometimes become a real complicity, with prisoners actually helping the captors to achieve their goals or to escape police.

The expression originates from a bank robbery that took place here on August 23rd 1973, when four bank clerks where held hostage in the vault for five and a half days. (information taken from a cache online)

Why am I posting this? Well, I have writer’s block, and cannot move forward on Monarch. Argh. So I’m distracting myself with something about The Breakaway. I also have thought a lot about my main character, Naomi, lately. She is truly a victim in my story, but most of it is her own doing. However, she is a kidnapping victim, and some of my readers have displayed frustration, even anger, at Naomi’s reaction to her captors.

Naomi accepts her imprisonment. She even learns to love her captors at one point. Why? And why on earth did I want to write such a story?

Perhaps it is because Stockholm syndrome has always held great fascination for me. During my research for Breakaway, I ran across this article. It clearly explains the mystery behind loving an abuser, and backs up the reality behind Naomi’s behavior in my story.

So, if you’re one of the readers who experienced great frustration over Naomi’s submissiveness, perhaps you might want to read the article.

A dear friend of mine, who has only begun the novel this evening, wrote in his comment: There is a spirit exhibited [in Naomi] that is not submissive but shows courage and the sense enough to reflect on her situation before reacting.

Although it takes Naomi a specific amount of time to react on her reflections, she is certainly not ignorant of the fact that she is submissive to a fault. Even subconsciously, she uses it to her advantage.

So my question is this:

How do you use your weaknesses as strengths? If you were in a Stockholm syndrome-type situation (either being held hostage or in an abusive relationship), how would you handle it?

Me? I think I’d react a lot like Naomi. Pulling in on myself is a natural instinct. Submissiveness is tempting. I want to believe I’d fight back, but knowing that it would end in pain or death, I would continue to ride out the situation until I found a better way than violence to escape.

P.S. This question does not just apply to women! Men are capable of Stockholm syndrome as well. There were several at the bank robbery mentioned above.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, The Breakaway, 25 comments