Stockholm Syndrome: Arlington’s Destructive “Treatment” of Isolated Foster Children

8 Oct

When Arlington County places foster children in isolation, it has used the phenomenon of the stockholm syndrome to alienate the children from their own families and get them to say things that are not of their own free will.  Such is the case of children like A.O.

The Stockholm Syndrome was named after a famous bank robbery that occurred in Stockholm, Sweden in 1973. Two armed robbers held bank employees, three women and one man, hostage for six days. The hostages were bound with dynamite and were cruelly treated. The hostages became emotionally attached to the bank robbers and came to see their captors as protecting them from the police. One of the hostages later became engaged to one of the robbers. Another victim set up a defense fund for the robbers. Patty Hearst is another example of the Stockholm Syndrome. She was kidnapped and abused by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. However. she bonded with the soldiers and later joined them and assisted in a bank robbery. Dr. Nils Bejerot, criminologist and psychiatrist, created the term Stockholm Syndrome to describe this dynamic.

Psychological processes underlying the Stockholm Syndrome include disbelief and minimization of the event by victims, suppression of anger, dependence on the person committing the violence, taking on the viewpoint of the abuser, and mental health problems (e.g., depression, apathy, PTSD). The intermittent reward provided by the abuser, who is sometimes cruel and violent and sometimes kind and nice, reinforces the bond (i.e., cycle of violence). In attempts to please the abuser, the victim may take on certain characteristics, such as compliance, denial, passivity, dependence, and fondness for the abuser. Four factors that dispose a victim to respond in this way are:  perceived threat to physical or psychological safety, perceived small kindness from the abuser, isolation, and perceived inability to escape or change the situation.

Graham (1994) describes major indicators of the Stockholm Syndrome:

  • Victim shows symptoms of ongoing trauma or PTSD.
  • Victim is bonded to abuser.
  • Victim is grateful for small kindnesses of abuser.
  • Victim denies violence or rationalizes violence and denies anger about abuse.
  • Victim is hypervigilant to meets abuser’s needs and keep abuser happy.
  • Victim views world from abuser’s perspective.
  • Victim sees rescuers as the bad guys and abuser as the good guy/protector.
  • It is difficult for victim to leave abuser or separate psychologically from abuser.
  • Victim fears retaliation from abuser.

Victims (here foster children) use cognitive distortions as survival strategies. Cognitive distortions include self-blame, viewing the abuser as a victim, and believing that, if they (victims) loved the abuser enough, the abuse would stop. Use of cognitive distortions minimize the terror felt by victims, facilitates the bonding process, and instills hope in the victim.

If a parent did this to a child, it would be deemed psychological abuse.  But when the Arlington DHS and GAL’s  do this to helpless foster children, it is condoned — and paid for with Arlington County taxpayer dollars.

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