In August of 1973 a bank robbery took place in Stockholm during which the bank employees were imprisoned and held hostage in the bank’s vault. During this captivity that lasted about one week the victims became emotionally attached to their captors and not only began sympathizing with them but went to the extent of defending the actions of the captors after they were freed.
This ‘bonding’ between a captor and the victim became known as the Stockholm syndrome and is now the term used to define the psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy toward their captors to the point of supporting their cause and identifying with them. The victims even choose to interpret any lack of abuse by the captors as acts of kindness.
‘Capture-bonding’ or the Stockholm syndrome is the traumatic attachment that takes place between a powerful individual or group of individuals and those who are placed under their absolute authority by force. It may not even require a hostage scenario. It is entirely possible to develop strong emotional ties between two individuals or groups even otherwise. Situations can exist where one group of individuals routinely harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates another group while simultaneously showing the victims some form of superficial esteem. The victims end up bonding with the captors. This, according to Freudian theory, is a defensive response to the trauma experienced in becoming a victim and the ego defends itself by identifying with the aggressor. The victim starts believing in the same values as the aggressor and, in this manner, the captors cease to be a threat.
Let us take a specific situation.
I will identify the victims; you identify the captors.
The victims are the hapless citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.