Stockholm Syndrome

Taken from the novel, A Prison Without Walls.

Humans are physical creatures who feel safe in familiar surroundings. Security and stability are two states which we all strive to obtain. Our life is designed and constructed from our past. We are born to bond, to connect to another. We are intrinsically driven to engage, share, socialise and unite to a person, group, culture or cause. This gives our life meaning and purpose.

When a traumatic event occurs in a person’s life, they are faced with making a decision. During our whole life we collect and amass experiences, memories and negative emotional states from the physical world. When something happens that impacts on our health or survival, we make a snap decision that is automatically and unconsciously evaluated from experiences rooted deeply in our mind from childhood. This response shapes the way in which we form bonds to other people. When a child had a nightmare, they ran to the arms of the nurturing mother or father, who soothes the child’s worries and reassured them they are safe. Sometimes we can experience other emotions during an experience such as this and we are rejected or told we are being silly. This then implants in a young child’s mind and is stored for future reference when needed in times of trauma.

In a violent experience, the person experiencing the trauma will attach themselves to the other person as the anxiety that they have experienced feels uncomfortable and the freeze response has taken control. They stay in the situation for fear of their life. Their whole existence then becomes a dependency on the person who has full power and control in the traumatising situation.

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Cognitive dissonance, a decision between opposites

When rationally our minds know something is bad for our health, we rationalise the experience to alleviate internal pain such as anxiety or stress. A common ingredient in addiction is the cognitive dissonance of knowing the substance is bad for us, but feeling compelled and driven to have it even more. In a violent experience, the person will be aware that what has occurred is wrong but due to the trauma bonding, they are unable to break free from the chain of events that led to the situation. Over time, their beliefs have been hijacked and they now came to believe the projections and instigations that have been repeated to them over a period of time. Inevitably, they will accept responsibility for the event as that is what has been conditioned of them, but somewhere buried deep is the reality that violence isn’t acceptable, but has no way of escaping the situation as their beliefs are too entrenched in their personality to see any other alternative. The familiarity of their childhood traumas reassures them that all is well. Dissonance increases with the importance of the subject, this determined how strongly the dissonance conflicts with our inability to rationalise or explain the conflict.

It’s a powerful motivator, central to all forms of persuasion and manipulation tactics in shaping a change in beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours.

With forced compliance; doing something against your request which is inconsistent with your beliefs. An incentive may be used, to ensure their compliance in the order. A threat, look or symbolic message will be expressed, either physically, verbally or emotionally. Forcing you into making a decision between two opposing alternatives and then weighing up the pros and cons.

Dissonance is strong when we believe something about ourselves and then do something against that belief, a decision of opposites. An example would be; as long as I appease him he won’t get angry. To alleviate this mental distress we can justify our behaviour by changing the conflicting cognition; nobody is that callous and cold that they would deliberately hit you. I must of provoked him? Or, we can justify our behaviour by adding a new cognition; he didn’t really call me a degrading name, it was a joke and I am too sensitive. I must learn to accept sarcasm.
If the experience was negative or the end result turned out badly. The dissonance is then reduced for the recipient, by justifying the experience.

This is part of the deal when you are involved with a personality disorder individual. It doesn’t occur in a healthy relationship because healthy relationships are based on transparency, what you see is what you get, flaws and all. With a personality disorder there is a Jekyll and Hyde style personality, a mask of sanity, a person so charming and influential that hides a malicious and and destructive self. The relationship is based on emotional abuse, psychological manipulation, domination, deliberate and pathological lies, covert and overt manipulation. It’s all smokescreens and mirrors. When ending a relationship with a personality disordered individual; stalking, cyberstalking, smear campaigns and harassment are the closing chapters of the relationship. This highlights their their inability to detach from the dominant bond they held over you and will continue to terrorise you with fear, until they regain control. In a healthy relationship, two people can move on, in unhealthy relationships, this isn’t possible. The person is raging at this loss of power, and in the final stages, the victim is extremely vulnerable and is genuinely at risk, with their life.

Triangulation then comes into the game, the perpetrator will rally his supporters and defenders and their pathological frame of reference to continue to devalue you, smear campaigns or indirect threats via intimidation. Using other people to continue their campaign of terror against you. Whatever the perpetrator or the followers say, does not matter, the mind games are there to keep you locked in the game.

Your life becomes an internal battle between denial and truth. You deny that anyone could possibly act like this, with ruthless and callous intent. You deny that there is anything wrong with this individual, as they can be charming and enigmatic too, this denial of reality protects the victim from the truth of the psychopathic characters, and the fact that they are involved with such a beast. Confronting the sad reality that you were never loved back, or that this person has conned and manipulated your whole existence is so painful to address. Yet your evidence of the truth builds up higher and higher, the final outcome can be devastating to face.

It affects your metal body because his opinions still affect you, his ties to others, even those he claims to love, like children, who are used as tools to obtain the upper hand in legal situations. Children are their personal collateral, to be used for power play mind games. Your rational, logical mind knows this, but if you still have emotional ties, if you still care what he thinks or feels, then your still giving a disordered person too much power over you. This is the most dangerous aspect of cognitive dissonance, because your emotional investment has been in vain. To eliminate this inner tension, means to free yourself, body, mind and heart from the sociopath.

When you start to feel uncomfortable, stop and look for the inner conflict. How did it come about? Did somebody else put it there. If so, you can decide not to play with them anymore.

4 Thoughts

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