John McCain has made no secret of his capture in the Vietnam war – in fact, his whole campaign has been based upon the trauma of being held as a Prisoner of War for over five years. He has told the story on numerous occasions about how he was shot down while flying a small bomber plane. Once captured, John McCain was kept as a Prisoner of War, but had the opportunity to be set free.
He declined this opportunity, because by this time, he had began suffering the symptoms of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ – a psychological disorder that causes hostages, prisoners, and victims of domestic violence to sympathize with their kidnappers, and even fall in love with them. Stockholm Syndrome, sometimes called ‘trauma bonding’, is a common condition brought on by the victim’s gratitude towards their captor for their survival, or for a random act of kindness.
We see this in John McCain each time he recalls his story on the campaign trail. As quoted from McCain’s interview at the Presidential Faith Forum, hosted by Rick Warren on Aug 16, 2008, McCain recalls from his time as a P.O.W.:
“One night I was being punished in that fashion. All of a sudden the door of the cell opened, the guard came in, a guy who was just what we call a gun guard. He just walked around the camp with a gun on his shoulder. He went like this and then he loosened the ropes. He came back about four hours later, he tightened them up again and left.”
McCain’s gratitude is evident in that statement, and the effect of that memory is on full display as McCain speaks – he is obviously glowing as he remembers that single incident of kindness from his captors. The Republican National Convention was a huge tribute to war, and little else. At times, McCain showed more admiration than animosity towards his captors. ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ is a display of affection from the ‘weaker’ party towards the ‘stronger’ party, and McCain’s warm smile as he remembers how one of his captors drew a ‘cross’ in the sand with a ‘sandal’, signifies that the captor at that point had won over McCain’s heart.
Stockholm Syndrome commonly sets in with the hostage within three to four days. McCain’s reluctance to leave the P.O.W. camp is an indication that the psychological condition may have been a determining factor that led McCain to opt to stay there. The condition occurs when the victim, or hostage, builds a connection with the aggressor, and can cause the ‘weaker’ person to fall in love. The syndrome was not recognized until 1973, after McCain’s release. His condition went unrecognized, undiagnosed, and untreated. The disorder is nothing to be ashamed of as it results from emotional trauma, but with the signs of the syndrome being in full public display as McCain hits the campaign trail, one would believe that McCain’s apparent symptoms have gone untreated.
McCain’s long record of voting against our Veterans could also be linked to the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. Because of McCain’s emotional connection to his captors, his condition makes him prone to believing that the enemy is, in fact, doing our brave troops a favor by letting them survive – and that they should have gratitude for that. McCain’s voting record proves that he believes our courageous men and women in the armed forces should not only be grateful to the enemy, but suggests he actually thinks that they are, for some reason, enjoying it.