There is no precise, universally accepted definition of Stockholm syndrome. It generally refers to a cluster of symptoms often observed in hostages, cult members, battered women and victims of sexual and physical abuse. These symptoms include:
Emotional bonding with the captor/abuser
Seeking favor and approval from the perpetrator
Depending on the perpetrator for security and purpose of existence
Befriending and caring for the captor
Resenting police and proper authorities for their rescue attempts
Losing one's own identify in order to identify with the captor/abuser
Seeing things from the perspective of the perpetrator
Valuing every small gesture of kindness, such as letting them live
Refusing to seek freedom even given the opportunity
Is Stockholm syndrome a survival strategy?
Many psychologists and psychiatrists have considered the Stockholm syndrome a survival strategy in extreme conditions, where there is:
The constant threat to physical and psychological survival
A condition of helplessness and hopelessness
Isolation and loss of support systems from the outside world
A context of trauma and terror that shatters previously held assumptions
The perception that survival depends on total surrender and compliance
What are the psychological processes underlying Stockholm syndrome?
There are five powerful motivations working together to contribute to the development of the Stockholm syndrome:
The motivation to survive physically and psychologically
The motivation to avoid pain and fear
The motivation to find hope and meaning
The motivation to find significance and security
The motivation to seek acceptance and relationship
Although these are primary motivations operating in all sorts of situations, most of the time only one or two motivations may predominate.
However, in a hostage or abuse situation, all these motivations are operating and contributing to the bonding between the victim and the abuser. Such a relationship is strengthened both by the negative reinforcement of relief from pain and fear, and the positive reinforcement of approval and recognition.
As Paul Harvey would say, "Now you know the REST of the story." (And if you'll take time to search for "Stockholm Syndrome" on the Net, you will learn even more!)