2013-01-20 – The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition in which a person who is held as a captive develops positive feelings of affection for the captor. Folks my age may remember (at least on good days) the kidnapping of Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in 1974. After two months of captivity Patty joined her SLA captors in committing a robbery. After being arrested for this crime, Patty’s lawyers invoked the Stockholm syndrome, saying that she was, in actuality, coerced into participating in the robbery. The defense failed and Patty was convicted. The Stockholm syndrome is named after bank employees in Stockholm, Sweden who were held captive in a bank vault for six days, just a year before the Hearst kidnapping.
My question for you today is to consider whether our pets (particularly dogs) suffer from a form of the Stockholm syndrome. After all, pets are held captive. We lead them around by the neck. We keep them behind doors and gates that they can’t open. We yell at them when they bark. We neuter them. But in spite of that, they appear to love us.
There is a mirror image psychological condition called the Lima syndrome named after a 1996 abudction at the Japanese embassy in Lima, Peru. The Lima syndrome describes a condition in which the abductor comes to feel sympathy for the captive.
Many pet owners suffer from the Lima syndrome.
The Stockholm syndrome has been applied in a variety of traumatic situations that don’t involve explicit captivity. It has been invoked to explain battered-spouse syndrome. It has been invoked to explain the feelings of military recruits for their drill sergeants. It could be invoked to explain the feelings of rank-and-file employees.
But never has it been applied to animals other than humans—until now.
And someday, some clever guy is going to invoke the Stockholm syndrome to explain middle-class support for the Republican party. (Could it also explain middle-class support for the Democratic party?)
But it won’t be me. I love our political parties way too much.
(Do the party leaders also suffer from the Lima syndrome?)
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