Coping May Take Awhile for Elizabeth Smart

By: Lori Jane Gliha
By: Lori Jane Gliha

Investigators are trying to figure out why Elizabeth Smart wasn't able to escape during the nine months she was held captive.

Search teams ventured within yards of where she was temporarily held captive, and though she says she could hear people calling her name, she never responded to the calls.

Local psychologists say Smart may have suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. It's a coping mechanism that causes a person to bond with her kidnapper. Stockholm Syndrome is the same phenomenon that causes battered women to return to their abusers.

The victim may feel sorry for her captor or even develop loving feelings for that person.

Psychologists say whether or not Smart suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, it is likely she will suffer from some form of Post Traumatic Stress, and it may take several months for Smart and her family to cope with the kidnapping.

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Stockholm Syndrome

  • The 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 syndrome has been named this way after the famous bank robbery of Kreditbanken in Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm which lasted from Aug. 23 to Aug. 28, 1973.

  • In the Kreditbanken case, the victims kept on defending their captors even after their six days physical detention was over.

  • Famous cases regarded airplane hostages and kidnapped people, such as Patricia Hearst, who after having been a hostage of a politically engaged military organisation (the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA), joined it several months after she was freed.

  • The syndrome can explain what happens in hostage-taking situations, but can also be used to understand the behavior of battered spouses, members of religious cults, Holocaust victims, or even household pets.

Source: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome (The Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia Web site) contributed to this report.


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