Stockholm Syndrome

The Stockholm Syndrome is a reaction that people sometimes have in a frightening situation such as being held hostage or experiencing abuse. It involves a paradoxical emotional bond that develops between the victims and the one holding them hostage or abusing them. The term comes from an event that happened in Stockholm, Sweden in August of 1973, when a bank robber held four people hostage in a bank vault for 131 hours. After they were released, the victims reported having positive feelings for the robber and negative feelings toward the police. They actually perceived their captor as their benefactor and the police as their enemy. This phenomenon is used to explain the reactions of victims of famous kidnappings, such as Patricia Hearst (1974) and Elizabeth Smart (2002), and also the behaviors of victims of spouse abuse and child abuse. The syndrome has been explained as a coping mechanism to try to deal with an almost unbearable situation.

I see a similar thing happening spiritually. Many people who have been taken captive in their sins, while they would never admit it, actually develop positive feelings for Satan. At the same time, they think that God is to blame for all of their troubles and they see everyone who tries to help them out of their sinful condition as the enemy.

The Stockholm Syndrome is treatable, and many people have overcome its effects. In the same way, those who see the devil as their friend and God as their enemy are often able to recover from this and see things as they really are.

Don’t give up on friends and loved ones who are suffering from spiritual Stockholm Syndrome. Keep praying and sharing the truth with them. There is hope for them to be delivered from their spiritual bondage.

“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”—Jude 22-23.


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