Stockholm Syndrome Is the Norm for Children in Families | Daniel Mackler


From Daniel Mackler/Wild Truth: “I see Stockholm Syndrome as being the norm for children in their families of origin — Stockholm Syndrome being where people who are kidnapped or held hostage end up not hating the people who are . . . holding them hostage but instead loving them, identifying with them, fighting for them, defending them. The idea came out in the early 70s, I believe, where . . . somebody robbed a bank and held a few people, maybe five, six people — in Stockholm, Sweden — held them hostage . . . And what happened is eventually the hostages were freed, it took a few days, maybe like a week, but in a very short period of time they arrested their captors and they brought them to jail and they put them on trial. But what happened is the hostages actually defended the bank robbers and they fought for them, they didn’t want them to get in trouble, and they really still strongly identified with their captors.

And what a strange, counterintuitive concept — well, it’s not exactly a new concept, though. There’s a very closely related concept that was created — was identified, one might say — by a Hungarian psychiatrist named Sandor Ferenzci — very interesting guy worth reading about. And, I would also say, very worth reading the Wikipedia page on Stockholm Syndrome, it’s actually fascinating. But this guy Sandor Ferenzci back in 1933 came up with a concept called ‘identification with the aggressor.’ It’s considered a defense mechanism. And the idea is that people who have had really bad things happen to them, people who have been traumatized, especially children, end up not hating the people who traumatized them a lot of times but end up identifying with them, defending them, thinking they are good, even, thinking that the abuse was not a bad thing or outright denying it, and then becoming like the people who did horrible things to them, becoming like their traumatizers.

Well, I want to talk about what sparked me to make this video now. There was a comment on one of my YouTube videos where in that video I analyzed ‘borderline personality disorder’ being a result of trauma, often childhood trauma . . . This person came on and he commented, or she, I can’t remember, and said ‘Okay, it’s interesting what you say . . . but what about the fact that it’s known that 20% of people who have been “diagnosed” with “borderline personality disorder” themselves say that they were not traumatized as children, that they were not abused as children, they did not experience child abuse; how do you defend your point of view in light of that?’

Well, I actually do believe that statistic. And part of it is I worked with a lot of people in therapy who exhibited all sorts of behaviors that seemed to be post-traumatic behaviors, like this diagnosis of ‘borderline personality disorder,’ but they said they weren’t abused as children. And does that mean that they weren’t abused as children? Well, when they had a chance to be in a safe place, where they weren’t being judged, when they were being listened to, when they had a safe place to tell their story, to put the pieces of their story together, what I found is over time a lot of those people started saying, ‘Oh my god, I was abused.’ They started having memories, it started coming back often in their dreams at first. Or they would say ‘You know, I started feeling feelings like disgust against my mom, and I didn’t know why because I love my mom, she was such a great mom, she never did anything bad to me.’ And then what I saw is people over time who said ‘Oh my god, I had split it off, I had blocked it out, and now it’s coming back to me.’ And another thing that I saw is people who said ‘Oh no, I wasn’t abused,’ but then they would tell me stories of how they were abused, they just didn’t identify it as abuse. Or sometimes people would bring their parents in to therapy and I would look at the person who was their parent, how the parent talked to me, I would hear how the parent talked to that person, and I would think, ‘That doesn’t jibe at all with how the person spoke about their parent’; they spoke about their parent as this wonderful, loving person, and here I’m witnessing this person who doesn’t emanate love, who doesn’t emanate respect. Or another thing is sometimes people brought their siblings in to therapy . . . and their siblings would tell me horrible stories about things that happened to this person who was my client and I’m realizing, ‘Oh, they have such incredibly different narratives.’

I think people often so strongly defend their parents against having done horrible things to them themselves. And why do they do that? Because once upon a time, their life, literally — their sense of self, literally — their very survival — depended on defending their parents, on siding with their parents against them. And so therefore they didn’t think they were abused. They had Stockholm Syndrome. They fought for their parents, they defended their parents, and it’s so, so, so common.”


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