Friday, September 14, 2012

I've finally put a name to my experience: Stockholm Syndrome

Though technically not the patient, I too, felt like there was a hostage taking going on when I met with Chris's doctors. (I have since found psychiatrists for him where the power relationship is on a more equal footing.)

From David Healy's blog post, BarMitzzva Romba: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies

Quite aside from transforming doctors into the perfect consumer in this sense, in 1962 it was not appreciated how much a mechanism designed to improve safety might in fact do just the opposite by transforming clinical encounters into hostage situations. Making drugs available on prescription only means that patients have nowhere else to go to get a medicine they need or think they need. They effectively become a hostage rather than a patient and risk the development of Stockholm syndrome.

In 1962 Stockholm syndrome had not yet been described. It is now known that people whose lives are at risk and who are isolated (anyone with an illness), when held hostage by kind captors concerned about their welfare (as doctors are increasingly trained to be) are highly likely to identify with their captors and want to keep them happy. In these circumstances, especially when the patient finds their condition worsening, it becomes very difficult to raise the possibility that what the doctor has done in good faith to help might in fact be causing problems.

It seems more and more likely that the safety consequences of turning patients into hostages outweigh the risks inherent in the drugs that doctors prescribe. The evidence that treatment induced adverse events have now become a leading source of death and disability point just this way. Meanwhile there is not a medical course on earth that trains doctors to recognize their capacity to induce Stockholm syndrome.


  1. Here's a good comment from a lady re Healy's original blog post at

    "Stockholm syndrome is not just about captors making friends with their captives.
    Stockholm syndrome is something I totally relate to. The kindly, young, South African psychiatrist who gives me a pill called Seroxat with enthusiastic zeal. It will help me out of all my problems. The Indian doctor who sent me to him in the first place; due to his religion or something, he could not deal with a lady’s situational crisis and unhappiness. The Scottish lady gp, who had not a clue what she was doing, when she decided to put a revolver to my head, by not taking psychiatrist’s advice.
    So, all these kindly people leave me ‘The English Patient’ nearly dead and go on their merry way to do what they did to me, to more folk.

    Stockholm syndrome gets nasty when the patient fights back and complains; they get all uppity and defensive and pretty nasty. So, all in all, I had three nations putting me assunder and what developed from pure Stockholm Syndrome and then what developed from these three captors, nearly made me lose the plot.

    However, I have not lost the plot, so Stockholm Syndrome is a pretty crucial piece of knowledge that I would suggest we all get our heads’ around.

    Thank you, David, for describing Stockholm Syndrome. May it help you all."

  2. Rossa,

    Pat Bracken M.D., Ph.D. calls what's taking place a "legitimacy crisis in psychiatry" (scroll down to first video)-

    *Stockholm Syndrome* is not too strong a term to describe the abuse of *illegitimate* power exercised by this very arrogant and narcissistic group of men/women (aka, psychiatrists).

    Make no mistake about it, conventional psychiatric "treatment" involves the abuse of *illegitimate* power.


    1. Oh, and did I ever mention that I have absolutely *no* respect for conventional psychiatrists?



  3. I just found something and shared it with David Healy...thought I'd share it here too. This is the note I wrote to Healy:

    "Wow...from 2007

    I just reread an old post from my blog...I'm talking about my MD who prescribed all the psych drugs that have made me a victim of severe iatrogenesis. I had the same insight you have about Stockholm Syndrome...but I didn't remember it when I read your article more recently:

    "I feel rage now. He, the man who “believed” in me, has hurt me the worst because I trusted him. I never trusted the out and out assholes. And the worst part is that I still have, underneath the sickness I feel right now or actually contained within it, a feeling of warmth for him. Ugh it’s repulsive. What is the name of the syndrome that makes one attached to their abusers? Maybe I’m thinking of attachment to kidnappers. But what I’m feeling now should have a name too."

    This is to this blog only: That is from 2007...I don't have any of those feelings with the same intensity anymore...thank god for our resilient and neuroplastic brains and psyche. Still amazing in my's a very real phenomena what David Healy talks about!!


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