Skip to content

Is the Stockholm Syndrome of the West Perpetuating Terrorism?

December 6, 2015

Is the Stockholm Syndrome of the West Perpetuating Terrorism?

We are all familiar with Stockholm Syndrome, where captives begin to sympathise and eventually support the views of those holding them hostage. The term came from an incident in Stockholm where several employees at a bank were held hostage at gunmen negotiated with police. As the standoff progressed over six days some of the hostages began to reject assistance and defended their captors. This emotional bonding, sympathy and empathy for a clearly dangerous and potentially deadly bully was so counter-intuitive that psychologists coined a new phrase to describe it. Now the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ is so familiar that is part of popular culture in film, TV and writing.

Theories abound as why people held at gunpoint, with the threat of being killed would suddenly mentally flip and emotionally attach the perpetrator. Many of the theories border on the extreme as they delve into psycho-sexual concepts of sadist/masochism. Others consider ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ to be a survival mechanism stretching back to the Stone Age where captive tribes would need to adapt to the new and permanent reality of enslavement. In some ways, it could be seen as kind of ‘Battered Wife Syndrome’ for the Cave Man era. Whatever the reasons given in annals of psychology, there is certainly something that is driving people to defend the motive of those threaten, torture and kill their own kind. Perhaps it is nothing more than an overwhelming fear that further punishments will ensure unless the victim shows affecting. Or perhaps it wound up in the absolute confusion of why bad things can happen to good people.

Why do people who have never done anything to deserve punishment subjected: mass murder, rape, beheadings, crucifixions, suicide bombings, torture and a whole plethora of shocking terrors? Why are some people so determined to strike at the innocent with such cold and calculating cruelty? The temptation is to ask what we have done to provoke this. Then the next temptation is to blame ourselves every time we are punished. It must have been something that we did.

This kind of mindset is prevalent after almost every act of terrorism in the western world. Even as the Twin Towers in New York were still crumbling on 9-11, there were commentators who could not contain their anger at the US.

Cleaning up the mess at the Bataclan theatre in Paris

With the recent attacks on Paris, the initial response was outrage that so many innocent victims had been killed. Many were coldly executed for nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no tactical reason to kill so many in cold blood except to show contempt for human life. The attackers were not trying to convert any Parisians with this act. They were trying to inflict as much terror and fear as they possibly could with attacks so bold that they would elevate their cause to headline news. In actions that terrorists themselves must have known were evil they hoped to drive home their message of being able to kill with impunity. They must have known that hiding behind the name of God to justify these actions was the ultimate insult to God. This is nothing new for any nihilistic thug who hides behind any pretence of moral high ground.

Yet how do western pundits react to such murderous outrage?

We have Waleed Aly telling us ISIL (the Islamic State) is weak. The Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, has warned against Machismo in facing up to the threat from ISIS.

Move forward just a couple of weeks and we have the San Bernardino massacre where 14 people were slaughtered by the husband and wife team. Heavily armed and wearing body armour the pair went on a well-prepared rampage with automatic weapon and pipe bombs. Their house was set up as a bomb making factory where they secretly made their plans.

San Bernardino killers. Now deemed as a terrorist act.

It took days for anyone in the government to realise that this was in fact, a terrorist act. Only after it was revealed that the woman who took part in the mass shooting in San Bernardino had pledged support for the Islamic State did it dawn on anyone that this was terrorism. The circumstantial evidence was overwhelming and yet there is a huge hesitation in our leaders to admit that the west is under siege from Islamic State terrorism.

Meanwhile in London knife-wielding maniac was Tasered by police after he had attacked three people. According to witnesses, the man called out, “This is for Syria… blood will be spilled”. Then he slit the throat of one victim and stabbed two others.

A victim of the London attack

Far from being a weak force. ISIS is able to strike at the hearts of western society with minimal losses. So far their greatest asset appears the timid reaction from the west.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: