During my college days, I used to binge watch Grey’s Anatomy on a daily basis. My father is a surgeon and I was always fascinated by his vivid descriptions of the surgeries and the work culture in a hospital. Of course, I had my own reasons for not following that career and I’m living with it (sigh). Though Grey’s is more of drama than reality, it was the closest I could get to seeing what he talked about.
In Episode 20 of Season 8 (The Girl with No Name), a patient is brought in; she was kidnapped when she was just six years old, held hostage and tortured for another 12 years before she escapes somehow and lands in the hospital. The episode, amongst other things, portrays the doctors working on the countless, improperly healed fractures, wounds and the unstable psyche that she has.
It was a haunting episode. One highly unusual thing that I found in that episode was this patient admitting to the doctor that she misses him (the captor) sometimes. She recollects how it wasn’t always bad and how they spent time together watching movies, occasionally. This struck me because I couldn’t understand how that particular emotion is possible in someone who was abused for so long. It’s basic instinct for us humans to hate and resist those who inflict pain on us, isn’t it? Atleast that’s what I thought. I decided to delve further.
I researched more online if such an emotion is possible in a victim and I came across the very famous Stockholm Syndrome. This syndrome is named after the bank robbery that happened in Stockholm, Sweden where the hostages (who were tortured and held for ransom) eventually sympathised with the robbers, refused to testify against them in court and even tried to raise money for them. There are many more famous instances where the victims support, sympathise and even join these perpetrators in their pursuits.
Some say this is a form of survival instinct where, eventually, it’s easier for the victims to identify themselves with the oppressors than stand against them.
I was very surprised/shocked to realise the existence of such a syndrome. It intrigued me a lot and it still does. The human mind is so complex. One can never know how it will behave under continuous stress.
Written in response to Daily Prompt –
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