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MCRP 3-02E Terrorism

The Individual's Guide for Understanding and Surviving

1 situation and elects from its arsenal of defenses that mechanism which served it best when faced 2 with similar trauma. The normal developing personality makes effective use of the defense 3 mechanism of identification, generally out of love, as when modeling itself after a parent. 4 Identification often is part of imitative learning, as when a boy identifies with his father and uses 5 him as a model. However, when this parent is abusive, we see identification serving a dual 6 purpose of protection and ego defense. This bond, although strong, has logical limits. If a person 7 is nice to another, positive feelings develop, even if one of them is an armed robber, a hijacker in 8 aircraft, a kidnapper, or a prisoner attempting to escape. The victim's need to survive is stronger 9 than his impulse to hate the person who has created his dilemma. His ego is functioning and has 10 performed its primary task of enabling the self to survive. At an unconscious level, the ego has 11 activated the proper defense mechanisms in the correct sequence - denial, regression, 12 identification or introjection - to achieve survival. The Stockholm Syndrome is just another 13 example of the ability of the healthy ego to cope with and adjust to difficult stress brought about 14 by a traumatic situation.

15 Common Experiences

16 The first experience that the victims of the syndrome share is positive contact with the abductors. 17 It is generated by a lack of negative experiences such as beatings, rapes, or physical abuse, rather 18 than any actual positive act by the abductors. A few injured hostages who evidenced the 19 syndrome rationalized their abuse. They convinced themselves that the abductor's show of force 20 was necessary to take control of the situation, that perhaps their resistance precipitated the 21 abductor's force. Self-blame by victims is very evident.

22 The second common experience of victims is that they sense and identify with the human quality 23 of their abductors. Dr. Hacker calls it the "poor devil" syndrome. Terrorists may talk to their 24 hostages a great deal about their own mental and physical suffering, about how they and their 25 families were oppressed, abused, and exploited (the justifying self-pity is always the same). The 26 victims begin to feel with them and for them and start to "understand" their captors. The 27 abductors are seen as desperate, confused, deprived individuals, victims themselves who by 28 circumstances rather than by evil intent, act against others. The victims come to feel that the 29 terrorists are entitled to protection and care, possibly even help and support. The former "devils" 30 have become the "poor devils."

31 The robber at the bank in Stockholm told the hostages of his own childhood, his wasted life in 32 prison. He talked about the senselessness and injustice of the criminal justice system and aroused 33 the hostages' pity when he spoke about his fear of returning to prison again. Poor devil, what he 34 needed was brotherly understanding, sisterly love, motherly care! Without exception, that is how 35 the hostages in Stockholm felt. They all wanted to protect the unfortunates who had threatened 36 them and almost taken their lives. They cared for and wanted to take care of the poor devil. 37 They could do no more, but they felt compelled to do no less. At times, this feeling is more 38 imagined than real.

39 The key here is the definition of the Stockholm syndrome as an automatic, probably unconscious 40 emotional response to the trauma of becoming a victim. "Probably unconscious" means that all


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