About the course
The general phenomenon of trauma survivors developing powerful emotional attachments to their abusers or captors has been observed in a range of situations (e.g., intimate partner violence, child abuse, hostage situations, human trafficking). Despite repeated observations of this phenomenon, little research exists regarding how this occurs and even less is known about its positive resolution in survivors. A commonly cited explanation is Stockholm Syndrome, which is often used interchangeably with traumatic bonding.
Stockholm Syndrome was coined during a media interview in 1973 to describe the “positive bond” that kidnap victims develop toward their captor. Ever since, Stockholm Syndrome has been applied to a range of contexts where interpersonal violence and mind control is seen to be involved, e.g., child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence and human trafficking. Despite its widespread and increasing use, there is little empirical support for the concept of Stockholm Syndrome. A critical review of the professional literature on the topic found no validated criteria for Stockholm Syndrome as a psychiatric diagnosis and a research base of limited empirical value. Its origins in the media rather than research or clinical practice and its application to a diverse range of crimes, ages and interpersonal contexts raises questions about the term’s meaning, validity and continued relevance to theory building and research.
Although past theorists have suggested that the concept of Stockholm syndrome may help normalize and de-pathologize survivors’ behavior we argue that the term is insensitive to survivor experience. Using the lens of Polyvagal Theory and an analysis of post-traumatic adaptation, Drs. Porges and Bailey sit down with Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped in 1991 and held captive until 2009, to discuss Appeasement as a more appropriate framework for viewing the relationship of an abductor and their abductee.
Rebecca Bailey, PhD
Rebecca Bailey, Ph.D. is a clinical and child forensic psychologist and Director of the innovative program Transitioning Families (www.transitioning families.com). Dr. Bailey’s scholarship examines issues related to abduction, high conflict divorce, animal assisted therapy, Polyvagal theory and the resiliency of individuals and families post Traumatic life events.
In addition to private practice, Dr. Bailey co- authored the Book Safe Kids, Smart Parents (Simon and Schuster). Dr. Bailey’s most recent articles include Vicarious Trauma and The Application of the Polyvagal Theory to High Conflict Co-Parenting Cases. Dr. Bailey has appeared on CNN, ABC and other networks. She has been a guest and commentator on Anderson Cooper, Good Morning America, Piers Morgan, Erin Burnett, Kyra Phillips, 20/20, Diane Sawyer, Dr. Oz and World News Tonight. She frequently consults with The National Center of Missing and Exploited Children and has assisted with the reunification of individuals and families impacted by non-familial and familial abductions. Dr. Bailey is an advisor for the JAYC Foundation and is clinical director for their programs.
Stephen W. Porges
Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium in the Kinsey Institute. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He served as president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He is the originator of the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral, mental, and health problems related to traumatic experiences. He is also the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol ™, which is used by therapists to improve language processing, state regulation, and spontaneous social engagement.