The Stockholm syndrome

Harris, Dewayne L.



The Stockholm Syndrome The Stockholm Syndrome is an emotional attachment to ones captor formed as a result of continuous stress, dependence, and need to cooperate for survival. This malady come to for after a 1973 incident in Stockholm, Sweden during which a bank employee became romantically attached to a robber who was holding her hostage. After seven years of imprisonment, I have noticed this same pattern of behavior manifested especially in long-term prisoners. Individuals who were incarcerated at the early age especially susceptible to developing an inordinate attachment to their “captors” (corrections staff). After years of living in the stressful and unnatural environment of prison, many of these prisoners form a strong unilateral attachment to their over seers. Consequently, they begin to see life from a perspective which reflects an affinity for their captors (staff) and their captives interested above their own. They no longer view their fellow prisoners as their peers rather they identify themselves more closely with the prison staff, so they keep staff informed of prisoners activity (in other words, they become prison snitches). In fact, they unwittingly even work against their own interest in order to gain “favor” with staff attaining staff’s favor gives them a false sense of superiority over their prisoner peers. Certainly characteristics of this syndrome are not limited to younger prisoners, very often, older prisoners are more profoundly affected by this condition. No doubt, the continuously stressful, dependent, and meticulously controlled environment of prison has a negative impact on prisoners’ psyche. The cold, deprivation of prison life corrupts the unsuspecting prisoner’s perception of self, others, and the world in generals. Indeed, knowledge is power, therefore, knowledge of this condition and its manifestation if necessary to survive in the prison sojourn. Even those who are not severely “institutionalized” must conscientiously labor to survival this ordeal with their emotional and mental health intact. The pattern of behavior indicative of the Stockholm Syndrome is a reality among prisoners. The domestic brand of this affliction is but another layer of the emotional challenges which must be overcome is our efforts to readapt to free society. Recognition of behavior which is symptomatic of this disorder is the first step in countering its long term destructive emotional affects. Of course, our efforts to educate concerning the Stockholm Syndrome does not imply any anti staff or anti authority sentiment. Quite to the contrary. We advocate respect and obedience to those in authority, for law and order are essential civilized society. However, experts agree that it is emotionally unhealthy to totally rely on an external locus of influence of self esteem. This is more so the case where a prisoner develops an attachment to prison staff whose position and goals are, after, counter to the prisoner’s best interest. Those afflicted by this disorder are most likely to experience difficulty in making the transition to society after being released. The Stockholm Syndrome reinforces sense of dependency and actually, self loathing, of course. Self hate inevitably leads to self destructive behavior. This self destructive behavior includes criminal conduct which results in a likely return to prison. It is our hope to provoke conscious rejection of those things which would hinder our successful transition as law abiding, responsible, and contributing members of society institutionalization self hatred, thugism and a selfish criminal minded perception of life are but a few of the psychological issue we must overcome. Indeed, this is a tall task in addition to the other challenges typically faced by newly released offenders. Therefore, we must diligently guard against all potential impediment to our survival. Furthermore, we must embrace a wholistic approach to preparing for release. This wholistic should include psychological, physical, vocational, educational and most importantly, spiritual preparation. Our prison journey need not be a “death-sentence” to our worth and potential as human beings. Almighty Allah (God) has endowed each of us with unique gifts. However, it is for us to nurture and manifest these gifts. This should be our common goals as prisoners and beyond. So let us reject and shun these destructive, often subliminal influences. Which lead to the Stockholm Syndrome and other emotional disorders. As we become enlightened and know better, we must do better. This is especially in the prison setting united we stand! Min Khalil Shabazz Muhammad

Author: Harris, Dewayne L.

Author Location: Washington

Date: July 2, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 4 pages

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