Sunday, August 30, 2009
Kidnapped Dugan a Victim of Stockholm Syndrome
The details of the terrible kidnapping of 11 year old Jaycee Dugard, found 18 years later living in squalid conditions after being abused by her abductor, are emerging and the case is worse that we could have imagined. He is a registered sex offender and a wacko and no one is saying anything about his wife, who was also in on the prolonged abuse. Dugard tragically became the mother of two children that she conceived at age 13 and 17, at the hands of Phillip Garrido, the kidnapper.
Over her 18 years of captivity, she had chances to escape. They lived in a neighborhood in Antioch, California, which is hardly a rural environment. She was kept isolated but apparently not completely confined. She even helped Garrido in a business card company and delivered supplies with him to customers. Why would she remain in such bizarre conditions?
The answer lies in a well known psychological condition known as the
Stockholm Syndrome. It occurs when a captive cannot escape, is isolated, terrorized and threatened with death. But the perpetrator also shows episodes of token kindness and there is a type of brainwashing that occurs when the victim starts to identify with the abductor.
Millionaire heiress Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, underwent a form of Stockholm Syndrome after being coerced into believing their extreme cause was legitimate.
A young child of 11 would have no power in such a hostage situation and could easily believe that her parents no longer cared (NOT TRUE) or her abductor wanted to love her. These mind twists occur during extreme stress and fear and are actually a survival strategy.
Forms of Stockholm Syndrome can be found in abused children, battered women, prisoners of war, cult members, incest victims and concentration camp prisoners. A common theme in all of these abusive situations is that the victim perceives the inability to escape from the situation. It is a type of learned helplessness and the abuser assures the victim that only by cooperation, can they be safe. The other aspect that is critical for Stockholm Syndrome to occur is isolation.
Jaycee Dugard is already feeling guilt and confusion about the long situation. She and her two daughters, ages 11 and 15, will need gentle psychotherapy for years, to be able to understand what has happened to them.
In the meantime, Phillip Garrido will likely plead insanity and should be locked up in solitary confinement for his entire life. No rehab, no therapy. These types of sexual predators are not curable. There needs to be one strike and no parole. Period.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 11:22 PM