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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2008 Jan;117(1):4-11. Epub 2007 Nov 19.

'Stockholm syndrome': psychiatric diagnosis or urban myth?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Hampstead Campus, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

'Stockholm syndrome' is a term used to describe the positive bond some kidnap victims develop with their captor. High-profile cases are reported by the media although the diagnosis is not described in any international classification system. Here we review the evidence base on 'Stockholm syndrome'.

METHOD:

Databases (PubMED, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL) were systematically searched. We compared features of cases widely reported in the English language media to identify common themes which may form a recognizable syndrome.

RESULTS:

We identified 12 papers that met inclusion criteria. The existing literature consists mostly of case reports; furthermore there is ambiguity in the use of the term. No validated diagnostic criteria have been described. Four common features were found between the five cases studied.

CONCLUSION:

There is little published academic research on 'Stockholm syndrome' although study of media reports reveals similarities between well publicized cases. This may be due to reporting and publication bias.

PMID:
18028254
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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