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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Stockholm syndrome in relationships

In the Netflix series La Casa de Papel (my 2018 blog), one of the hostages of this Spanish heist suffers from a Stockholm syndrome. This term was coined after a 1973 bank heist with hostages near Stockholm. Wiki: “Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.”

“Stockholm syndrome has also come to describe the reactions of some abuse victims beyond the context of kidnappings or hostage-taking. Actions and attitudes similar to those suffering from Stockholm Syndrome have also been found in victims of sexual abuse, human trafficking, discrimination, terror, and political oppression.” (Wiki)

Remarkably, these examples exclude the existence of a Stockholm syndrome in relationships. This omission may relate to the formal absence of forced and/or involuntary captivity. However, many jokes do compare marriage and prison (example). There are several references to a Stockholm syndrome within relationships: link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, and link 5.

Everyone probably knows a (married) couple that is trapped in a (mentally and/or physically) abusive or damaging relationship. With the knowledge of hindsight, I now even wonder myself whether I did fit that description too. For many years, my self-esteem was deteriorating following her damaging application of reverse psychology and projection onto me.

I still remember her frequent damaging remark that I would never find someone else, who would be crazy enough like her, to take care of me. A classic case of reverse psychology and projection. My next partner wasn’t worried about me at all. She said that I would never be without a girlfriend. I didn’t believe her at that time but she was right indeed.

There are plenty of reasons not to leave a (mentally and/or physically) abusive or damaging relationship: children, house, money, and/or social status. Also, the prospect of future independence creates fear over future inability and/or inadequacy. These fears paralyse your thoughts on deciding to leave your partner. This is where procrastination (my 2015 blog) starts.

It took me many years to realise that I had been slowly alienated from my own family. A family often works as a support system. It didn’t help that my family did not take my side during my marriage. My mother had been afraid of not being able to see her grandchildren. Only after the break-up, they chose my side and spilled their guts. A classic case of too little, too late.

The ones who do stay in an abusive or damaging relationship may grow into a victim role (my blogs). Unfortunately, a victim role is comfortable and life outside scary. They feel that everyone is entitled to happiness, except them. The pursuit of happiness (my blogs #1, #2, #3) requires a choice for yourself. People in an abusive or damaging relationship feel unworthy (my 2016 blog) of such a “selfish” choice.

Basically, I’m a fighter and a survivor. For several years, I forgot about that as I was unfamiliar with the devastating impact of reverse psychology and projection. My growing anger about my discontent finally brought back the warrior inside me. For a while, the people around me had to suffer from my anger. For me, fighting back was worth every (divorce) penny.

Tunnel of Love (1987) by Bruce Springsteen - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

It ought to be easy, ought to be simple enough
Man meets woman and they fall in love
But the house is haunted and the ride gets rough
And you've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above
If you want to ride on down in through this tunnel of love


Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise