Stuck Home Scream Dome
If you’re reading this you’ve probably got the phonetic connection with Stockholm Syndrome and will no doubt be groaning a little at how contrived it is. But I’m not going to apologise. Like the Stanford Prison Experiment , it’s a popular concept but is suspect in terms of credibility. The Stanford experiment (which concluded that just about anyone could commit evil acts given the right circumstances) was designed and manipulated to give the results its designers anticipated. The Stockholm Syndrome, even if it is real thing, is rare.
Both concepts have entered into common discourse because they echo what we’ve all experienced or observed. Both contain evidence based truths but, particularly in the Stanford case, the problem lies in the generalisation of what we’ve observed specifically. For example, we see a certain trait in an ethnic group and when someone from that group commits a crime in a way that exagerrates that trait, we create an association between the two things. Yet when we think of sexual assault we assume its committed by a stranger when its more likely to be a family member. We don’t associate families with sexual assault. This segue’s well into a discussion on the Stockholm Syndrome.
Our attachment to the Stockholm Syndrome probably comes from it being played out on film. One technique we should be familiar with is where a film attaches us to a character who, in real life, would be utterly repellent. In the final scene of Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal phones Clarice and tells her “I’m having an old friend for dinner”. Its one of the best film endings ever, yet it seriously twists our sense of justice and human decency. Whereas the Stanford Experiment tends to absolve those who have committed war crimes and acts of barbarity because of their situation, the Stockholm syndrome tends to romanticise the role of the captor. Whereas our captors are human (with all the complexity that entails) their actions are inhumane and reprehensible.
In the StuckHome ScreamDome, the captor is invisible and disembodied. It takes various forms, from social responsibility to health concern to legal constraint. But while the reasons for our compliance can be well grounded, those we look to for guidance and provision are shape…