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March 14, 2012

West Bank Syndrome

By Ethan Indigo Smith

Stockholm Syndrome explained in relation to the Allegory of the Cave and an explanation of the opposite of Stockholm Syndrome, West Bank Syndrome.


    On August 23, 1973, a botched bank robbery took place in Stockholm, Sweden.  The robbery turned into a near weeklong hostage crisis, and ultimately, an interesting experiment.  Four hostages were taken by the robbers and held during the confrontational situation.   The hostages later refused to testify against their captors and even helped raise legal defense for them.
    The captives in the Stockholm bank robbery developed a kinship for their captors partly because the police used extreme tactics that put them in more jeopardy.  Their captors held them against their will and threatened to kill them.   Yet the captives felt more endangered by the outside authorities than by their captors.   The captives eventually developed a kinship or devotion to their captors and refused to testify against them. 
    This kinship for one's captor is now called Stockholm Syndrome, occasionally the emotional tick is called Helsinki Syndrome or Patty Hearst Syndrome too.   There are many ways to initiate and institute this tick in people; the point is it exists.  Usually it requires an overt shock, followed by the perception that one's captor is one's benefactor.   It is a coordinated Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, a good cop bad cop routine that shakes one's psyche.  
    Battered spouses, members of religious cults, kidnapped children and adults, often develop and display Stockholm Syndrome.  It is a blind trust for their captors (their providers as well) and a distrust of outsiders, even those outsiders who are potential rescuers.  There is a certain bond that hits some primordial tick within which enables the captivity.   The captured empathize and even adore their captors to the point where they no longer seek to escape.   Kidnappers manipulate the minds of their victims and convince them the outside world is not to be questioned, that there is nothing outside for them except hardship.  They distort or cover actuality and create falsehoods. 

    Sometimes those with Stockholm Syndrome are forcefully held and other times they are held simply by information.   There is truth just beyond the open door, but they are afraid to go outside.   They've been trained to stay inside, oriented to the dimness of their captor's conditioning.  The captors are seen as the providers and the only people who protect the hostages in a world of uncaring unknowns.  

    People desire to be part of the group, the circle they are aware of.   If people are allowed to socialize with just one group or grow accustomed to just one group they will do whatever it takes to be acceptable to the group and elevate their status within the group's perspective, even allowing abuse.   Stockholm Syndrome is normally noted by some form of shock and trauma, but it might be displayed less fervently or obviously in daily life through playing on fears, particularly of ostracism.   Stockholm Syndrome is an extension of the most powerful social impulse of people, displayed in all people and cultures throughout recorded time, to be included in the group and cared for.    

"No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious."
George Bernard Shaw

    Socrates lived from 469 to 399 BC.   He formulated the theory to questioning and researching information; establishing the basis for scientific questioning.   The Socratic ideas provide a basis for western science and philosophy.   Socrates expanded ideas through discussion of questions and bettered philosophy through communication.   Many formulas for critical thinking were theorized by Socrates and described by his student Plato.   Aristotle, also Socrates' pupil, wrote about Socrates, but Socrates himself left no writings behind.   Others wrote about him.   Though highly respected he was considered to be eccentric, even loony by many of his peers.

    Socrates theorized that no one desires evil and that those who do commit wrong are predominantly tricked to do so.   Socrates was not only an intellectual, his father was a stonemason and he probably learned the trade.   Socrates also served in the military, distinguishing himself in battle as the story goes.   Socrates was a great teacher and questioned the scientific and the societal status quo.   Plato observed and described Socratic thoughts in his influential book "The Republic."      

    Socrates understood people in relation to their reaction to information and their cognitive ability.   He often cited his own ignorance as he openly questioned the conditions and inspired others to do the same.   Despite his claim to ignorance, he was considered most wise and designed numerous allegories and theories to inspire thought, reasoning and questioning.

    The most revelatory of human nature is Allegory of the Cave.   And much like people in an Allegory of Stockholm Syndrome, people are likened to prisoners in a cave.   They are imprisoned by their ignorance and they are held by their captor's presentation of information.   In the cave the captors burn a fire providing the only light source.   Using the light from the fire, the captors cast shadows of various images, symbols, shapes, characters and archetypes on a wall.   The imprisoned are forced to watch the images on the wall, and hear only the occasional noises made by those casting the images.   The prisoners ultimately conclude what they are observing is reality.   Reality in total.  

     The prisoners only observe this counterfeit version of reality.   The more experienced and developed minds among the prisoners are those who can predict what image will come up next or when there will be a noise.   To Socrates and Plato, the untutored are those who do not question, observing merely shadows, trapped by just a portion of distorted reality.   In Socrates' Allegory of the Cave there are four types of cave dwellers.

    There are the shackled who do not question their reality, the presentation they are forced to watch.   The other prisoners in the cave are unshackled, but are still transfixed by the images.   Neither questions the partial reality they are presented.  

    Then there are the captors.   The captors maintain the imprisonment of the others in the cave by casting imagery and making noise to distract them.   In the cave, all information is flipped, twisted and distorted to be used for the few to control the many.   Presentation of a minute portion of reality, the shadows in a cave, is unquestioned by the majority, images of reality are accepted as reality.   Shadows cast false evidence appearing real and accepted as real by the prisoners.

     The fourth classification in the cave, the classification with the fewest numbers, is the freed prisoner.   These are people whose chains were removed or unlocked after a lifetime in the cave.   They left the light of the fire and the cast shadows.   They made their way through the total darkness of the cave without guidance to find the crawlspace to the outside world.   The freed prisoners see, hear and sense the outside world and after initial confusion they learn about actuality.   They learn about the sun and reflections and shadows of reality.   Eventually the freed prisoners return to the cave to tell the other captives about reality in attempts to free them.  

    Truth is outside the scope of the captives.   A tiny portion of a distorted reality is accepted as reality in total.   Some of the captors, in charge of the presentation of untruth, may believe it to be reality in totality as well.   They question only what suits their preconditioned actuality.   Reality becomes mystery, and false evidence becomes reality.  

    The cast imagery prevents the prisoners from seeing the splinter of sunlight that comes through the tunnel to the outside.   The real world goes unnoticed.   Socrates and Plato believed that anyone who did not question actuality was stuck in the cave and most of those who did question, used information to distract and extract.  

    Expanding on Socrates' Allegory of the Cave, Plato described the condition of perception in the Analogy of the Divided Line.   The Analogy of the divided line presents a line first divided into two parts and then subdivided.   These parts recognize the four forms of information.   First the sensible and the intelligible are divided in two.   In the sensible there is reality and also real reflections.   In the intelligible there is first the idea or fact and also the reflection of that.   First there is a given concept and next there is a reflection of that concept.       

    Narrow-mindedness equates to thinking in merely one term or another.   Open-mindedness equates to an individual possessing the capability to think widely on multiple levels and realize the cognition of others.
    And in reality we are all prisoners, shackled and unshackled.   The less we realize it and consider it, the more we are controlled by the same benefactor and detractor.  We are all suffering from Societal Stockholm Syndrome.  People forgive institutions that trespass and trample on people and planet.   They are forgivable because of pronounced greater intention beyond visible morality, because people think they need institutions.
    Institutions are capable of sanctioning murder and mayhem in the name of peace and safety.  Institutions conduct thievery and larceny and claim discovery and trade.   Institutions and the institutionalized operate in stark duality, they say one thing and do another.   Institutions take on the archetype of the friendly warden, instigating Stockholm Syndrome and casting a spell as in the story of Beauty and the Beast.
    Institutional transgressions and treading over principle, family and country are forgiven because if small transgressions are not accepted then bigger horrors may arise.  Only institutions could instill this logic.  Only a reputable source could convince people to disregard rationality and commit wrong to obtain right.  Only established institutions can conclude their morality and high standing by committing lowly acts.   Only the institutionalized believe that one thing means another and persuade others as much.   
    An example of such institutional insistence is the pardoning of President Richard Nixon by his former colleague, President Gerald Ford.  The powers in authority can apparently get away with anything; there is little to no accountability.  Gerald died and the media praised him for giving Dick a pardon and preventing the country from being torn apart by an incriminating trial. 
    By giving Dick a Presidential Pardon it showed that some can exist above the law.  It set the precedent for future Presidential Administrations to break laws as they please and commit acts of immoral despotism that may or may not be legal, only to obtain a pardon later.  No goodness goes untainted by slight trespasses.      
    Instead of the country being torn apart by a Presidential conviction, the country is torn apart by criminals who continue to get Presidential Pardons or other exceptions.  They expect people to obey the law or face the consequences, but their own, in seeking their own agenda, are unaccountable.   Yet, it is rarely observed in that context because they are the authority and despite their actions, they have best intentions in mind and after all, the rest of the world is a dangerous place.  Societal Stockholm Syndrome, stuck in Socrates' cave.
    No man is above the law, except some.  Gerald died while there were more lawsuits against elected officials lying and withholding information, at the highest echelons of U.S.A. government than ever before.   There were many lawsuits against fraudulent corporations, and many perverted and unaccountable transgressions in churches.   Yet, the media celebrated the precedent set by the president.   People are entitled to another chance and forgiveness, people deserve at least a second chance, but accountability can coincide with forgiveness.   Institutions are not people and the institutionalized people do not act as people. 
    Dick should have been thrown to the judicial wolves as an example of what happens to anyone in the U.S.A. who considers themselves above the law.  The President is the highest government executive, with a lot of power, but he is still only a public employee.  Individuals merit forgiveness at least as much as institutions and the institutionalized, but rarely receive it.

    It seems that no matter what they do, authority has ways to provide and promote unaccountability.  It seems that the media will celebrate this or whatever else they are informed of as pertinent.  It is sure that corporate media and government institutions will do whatever it takes to ensure strong, legitimate, proud legacies for Presidents and leaders.
    If people in authority were remembered for everything they did and not everything they celebrate doing, things would be different.  Simply questioning Gerald's legacy would question unaccountability.  If the legacies of institutionalized leaders were questioned, people would not immediately ratify and glorify.  Gerald may have been a great President, but just because he was President does not make him great, and just because Dick was President does not make him forgivable.

FACT:  Gerald Ford became Vice-President without being elected in late 1973.  He later became President without being elected in August, 1974.  A month later, he gave the preemptive Presidential Pardon to his predecessor, Richard Nixon.


"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.   Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else.   But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or otherwise, about him than anyone else."
Theodore Roosevelt


    Stockholm Syndrome is named after people who were taken hostage in the Swedish city.  They empathized and sided with their captors because of the danger their rescuers put them in.  They felt like the police were a bigger threat than the robbers.   Those outside the cave are perceived as more dangerous than the criminals inside.   Stockholm Syndrome continues and enables an "us" and "them" mentality based on fear.   

FACT:  Jose Padilla was jailed for over 3 years before trial.  Arrested May 8, 2002, he was convicted of conspiracy charges on August 16, 2007.  During that time he was isolated and drugged.  In February 2007, Dr. Hegarty diagnosed Jose as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a form of Stockholm Syndrome.


    Stockholm Syndrome describes a condition in which one attributes benevolence to one's captor.  It's used to describe the willingness to be held captive by force and/or suggestion of peers.  It is much like brainwashing.   The captives believe that there are no alternatives; that there is no option to being captive.   If they are aware of their captivity, they are convinced their survival requires they remain captive.   They are completely absorbed in cast images.   Many forms of change within the cave are actually continuance of the status quo, just an opposite or countering position in the status quo.   Only leaving the cave is true change. 

    The U.S.A. is ruled by law, the laws of the trinity of liberty.   These are the only sacred ideals in the U.S.A. and they are partly sacred because they are changeable and allow themselves to be bettered by people.   People have to question in order to progress, otherwise institutions will hold and maintain.  

    People are lied to and often know or feel that they are being lied to, but shrug it off because the benefactors and protectors are the same as the detractors and exploiters.   It is abhorrent to question certain institutions, normally the ones that question individuals.   Institutions fulfill needs and also supply many things people don't need.  The U.S.A. is founded on the principle of questioning, amendment number one.   Freedom of speech is the freedom to question.   This was so important so important to the original patriots that they made it the first of the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment.        

    Institutions are not individuals, but mechanizations and formations of people.   Institutions portray themselves as being alive and as likable personalities.   Institutions are tools and when a tool breaks more than it fixes, it is tossed and improved upon.   Rights are not given to tools.

    Economics and war, among other topics, are described in confusing euphemisms to please the optimistic and oblivious.   Part time workers are workers without benefits.   Outsourced labor is exploited peoples elsewhere.   Downsizing is mass firing.   It causes great pain to see institutions that claim and imply benevolence are in fact the greatest exploiters, as well as the main providers.  

"The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the church as well, under its thumb.  This enables it to sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them."
Albert Einstein

    If not a true observation, it is at least a true potentiality.  And apparently if institutions are not under the proverbial thumb of the ruling class at present, they will literally be bombed.
    Institutions present themselves like people, like friends in the kitchen or office.  Sadly though, institutions are not treated like people; if they were, they would be committed for treatment and have their shop locked up.   Institutions do not treat individuals like people, rather fodder or fuel.  Institutions are not people and yet over and over again people yield to institutions as if they were people, really big people. 


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein


    Might is right, maybe, but only if people are first so convinced through loyalty or fear as to tolerate institutions marching over stranger or neighbor or their own self.  The success of brute force has prerequisites that enable force to be the authority, including a sensible aversion to pain and death.  If might was simply right, then there would be more overt institutions, instead institutions operate more covertly.  Fear, whether of information or might, is what really captures.   Might is right only when accompanied by fear, otherwise might, might get a fight.      


"Relativity applies to physics, not ethics."
Albert Einstein


    Societal Stockholm Syndrome is one side of the fence, and many develop it.  Others, without resources or opportunity, people who are locked in without a provider, develop violent behavior, West Bank Syndrome.   Instead of developing affinity for one's captor one develops   

    Such forms of control are backward, a mix up of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.  The institutions that have done so much for people have also prevented people from doing more for themselves.  They provide material, information and circumstance to prevent interruption of the dream or the nightmare, whichever the case may be.    

"It is necessary to note that opposite things work together, even though nominally opposed."


   Societal Stockholm Syndrome is manipulated through a good cop - bad cop routine, at times coordinated by different institutions and other times by the same entity.  Societal Stockholm Syndrome takes place within a group reacting to the experience of extreme polarizations.   Beatings and rescue occur, creating a dependency on the protector from the aggressor, both wear the same uniform, or are one and the same.  The attack takes place in a coordinated fashion by both the good cop and the bad cop, for it enables both.

    Societal West Bank Syndrome is put in place when a group of people are imprisoned and left without a provider or benefactor.   It's a bad cop -- bad cop routine if you will.   People in the West Bank are essentially imprisoned in a military camp and are not provided for.   They are not provided enough food and they are not provided adequate opportunity.   Anyone put in that position is going to develop, through shock, West Bank Syndrome or Stockholm Syndrome to one degree or another, because we are all human.     
    All war and exploitation since the time of Socrates has required the indoctrination of some sort to induce Stockholm Syndrome, where the captor is the benefactor, or West Bank Syndrome where the captor is the aggressor, in one form or another of severity.      

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Authors Bio:

Ethan was raised in Maine, Manhattan, and Mendocino, California. Ethan has traveled the world and has been employed as a Private Detective, a dishwasher, a valet, a snowboard instructor and always a poet.

Ethan Indigo Smith meditates, practices Wu tai chi chuan, The Five Tibetan Rites and various yoga. All of Ethan's writing, no matter if philosophy or satire, is focused to enhancing consciousness. He writes towards a peaceful world with a sharp and unique perspective.

Ethan is a proud dropout, but steadfast scholar. After dropping out from academia he later dropped out of the proverbial rat race entirely, moving to The Sierra Nevada mountains in California to snowboard for many winters. Being a dropout with enhanced observational skills enabled Ethan Indigo Smith to honestly observe and present his research unfettered by institutional hindrance.