Stockholm Syndrome/Learned Helplessness

by Parham

Stockholm Syndrome
The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in a hostage, in which the hostage exhibits seeming loyalty to the hostage-taker, in spite of the danger (or at least risk) the hostage has been put in. Stockholm syndrome is also sometimes discussed in reference to other situations with similar tensions, such as battered woman syndrome, child abuse cases, and bride kidnapping.

Learned Helplessness
Learned helplessness as a technical term in animal psychology and related human psychology means a condition of a human being or an animal in which it has learned to behave helplessly, even when the opportunity is restored for it to help itself by avoiding an unpleasant or harmful circumstance to which it has been subjected.

Are Iranians inside Iran, or at least the majority of them, only victims of another form of Stockholm Syndrome and/or prey to a major case of Learned Helplessness in respect to what is being inflicted upon them by the rulers of the country?

After all, for the most part, they know what's being done to them, don't they? So why do they actually sympathize with the rulers sometimes? More, why do they think they can't help themselves even if they outnumber those who rule by far?

What do you think?


more from Parham

Stockholm Syndrome/Learned Helplessness is not scientific

by Mehdi on

These are names that have been vaguely defined and supposedly they refer to certain condition or collection of symptoms. Even then there is no exact distinction about what is part of these symptoms and what isn't. The naming also does not really go beyond that. It says something vague about the possibiity that the victim of such and such does so and so, maybe, perhaps, sometimes, not sure why, not sure how.... 

So how could anyone discuss whether Iranians are in this condition or not?  This condition is a very subjective condition. Unless one defines precisely what he is asking, answering would be impossible. People would  be answering different questions as they have different ideas about what these conditions mean.

Besides, how is it valuable to call it a name or not? What does it show or prove or does for us? 

Flying Solo


by Flying Solo on



A point

by Parham on

I'm trying to keep away from the debate as much as possible but I think I should intervene on one point: This is not only about Stockholm Syndrome, but also about Learned Helplessness, which is something else all together. What do you think about that aspect of Iranian behavior?


Ms. Flying Solo

by capt_ayhab on

I truly appreciate your candor and your position. I have to confess, I did use a stereotypical statement regarding the victimization, and in particular to rape victims. I should have gone much deeper in my analysis.

You need not to apologize what so ever. I took your statement a bit personal. This subject carries deep and sincere emotions with me and my wife, for our involvement with Battered Women Shelters. I should have controlled my emotions and could have been more objective and logical about Parhams and your comments and blog.

Have a most wonderful day




It's the same in US or anywhere else

by Mehdi on

Only relative degrees are different, otherwise we have the same thing in any country. In the US people are frustrated and yet they don't seem to do anything about their own corrupt regime.


If you ask me, it is not as easy as you see it. People don't actually see a way out - a VIABLE alternative.

Bijan A M

Great observation, Parham

by Bijan A M on

I can certainly see the analogy. But, I have hard time to simplify the psyche of a nation to a single person’s psychology. There is no doubt that some segment of our Iranian society would fit the mold of Stockholm syndrome and another segment by learnt helplessness, but I believe the psyche of a nation is a lot more complicated than that.  

This is the same nation who invited the hostage takers and unknowingly volunteered to be the hostage. There is no way they can claim to be the victim as they willingly (out of ignorance or otherwise) invited the villain.

Psychology is not my specialty, but I hope every segment of our society snaps out of the Stockholm syndrome and realizes how he/she is being used as a tool and revolts against his/her captors. I hope this will happen before the SWAT team comes to rescue….to let justice rule.

Flying Solo: What a brilliant post (the very first on this blog). I have yet to find anything that I find myself against your posts. You are awesome….I mean it sincerely…

Flying Solo

Agree to disagree

by Flying Solo on

Captain Ayhab.

This discussion does not belong on Parham's blog.

You have every right to disagree with everything I say.  You have a right to be as vocal as you wish about your beliefs.  

I must say , I expected a much more concrete argument against the subject matter from someone who has spent time with victims of rape and battery.  Short skirts and Rape is a CANNED statement.  To have insinuated that what I said was based on such a cliche was not expected from someone like you.  But go ahead - lambast all you want.

Was I being impolite?  I apologize if that is the case.

Shoot the message not the messenger.




Flying Solo

by capt_ayhab on

Why so belligerent, is that how you normally confront with opposing ideas?

Spare you the canned response? Do you mean to say what you wrote was of your own work? You mean to say victim hood you presented is your own Nobel wining theses?

Allow me to answer you one by one. YES I do know many rape victims through my work at battered women shelters. My wife and I have been donating time in these shelters for years, and I have first hand experience with these victim. My question is do you?

The point is that you are trying ever so  crudely and belligerently defend the Idea that is not even yours, and is not agreed upon by 100% of the scholars, unless you are going to tell us that is. Your idea is among 100's ideas that have been presented nothing more, get it.

So, do not take my disagreement with your assessment as[be moghadasatet bar khordeh] , and watch your manners.  You can refuse any and all ideas that are presented, but that does not make you right, nor my idea makes me right. If you do not like people disagreeing with you, there is one solution, do not comment, pretending that your idea is THE one and only true and correct hypothesis.

To stick with [victim theory] , is basically to invite, re-victimization.

Have a great day


khaleh mosheh

I dont agree with the victimhood theory

by khaleh mosheh on

But whats the point arguing? Can we really change anything? ...No point at all if you ask me... Im off the enjoy my anhedonia.

Flying Solo


by Flying Solo on

Captain Ayhab,

Victimhood is not the same as blaming a victim of an atrocity.  Do you personally know victims of rape and abuse? Do you know anything about trauma bonds or Stockholm Syndrome for that matter other than what you we read on Wikipedia and hear from a friend here and there? 

Please - spare me the canned response (mini-skirt/rape). Sir - the issue of victimhood goes way beyond 'asking to be raped' or 'asking to be physically or emotionally exploited'.

The point is people do what they can, given a certain set of circumstances in which they find themselves.   In that sense Mr. Moradi's response has been most enlightening for me.  The person must have known of freedom first, but I digress.

I was clear in my post that I refuse to accept that the convoluted behavior of millions of people can be summarized in one syndrome. However, the mentality of 'being done to' is prevalent amongst the iranians I have come across and this may be linked to a history of having been 'mentally exploited' to the point that the person/persona believes himself/herself helpless .



Excellent subject

by capt_ayhab on


As usual you have presented an excellent subject and a profound question in sociology.

As to your question, I am not sure if it is  Stockholm Syndrome,  Learned Helplessness or more like FEAR and oppression that causes a society to be complacent[lack of better word] toward the injustice.

By applying these two concept, we are discarding the fact that many people may or may not truly believe in this ideology[true supporters].

Ms. Flying Solo

I do not agree with the phenomena of victim hood, since this concept hold the victim responsible for the acts committed against him/her. Victim hood theory states that for instance, victim of a rape or victim of any crime is to blame the victim for crime.

Victim blaming is holding the victims of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment to be entirely or partially responsible for the unfortunate incident that has occurred in their life. Victim blaming it is a typical fascist feature, infamously expressed in arguments like "a raped woman in a
short skirt was asking for it". It is also about blaming individuals
for their personal distress or for social difficulties, rather than the
other parties involved or the overarching social system in place.


As to Mr. Fred, his comments are irrelevant as usual any ways so no need for rebuttal. 

Thanks Parham for the blog. I am certain my comments are going to ruffle some feathers. 


Tina Ehrami

Dear Parham! Since you

by Tina Ehrami on

Dear Parham!

Since you so cordially took your time to respond on my post, I'm obliged to answer to such kindness! The question you raised in this post, dear Parham, is the same I once raised myself, some three years ago:


But I guess certain questions never get out of fashion, do they?  I have now come to believe that it perhaps isn't so much a Stockholm Syndrome, but survival instinct that causes this behavior. 

That particular post of mine to which you so generously responded yesterday emphasized this same dilemma of whether accepting the pain of oppression (by allowing the status quo) versus allowing the pain of uncertainty and chaos (when accepting change). Judging a situation or people is easy when you use your own developed paradigm, isnt it?

Kind regards,



Iranian Patty Hearsts

by Fred on

The Stockholm syndrome in the Islamist republic’s case is better demonstrated by the case of Patty Hearst who was born to a wealthy family in San Francisco (she is the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, the publishing magnate).

She was kidnapped by SLA, eventually joined her kidnappers in their cause by participated in armed robberies to finance it. After being caught and convicted, eventually received a Presidential pardon, she claimed she was brainwashed by SLA through deprivation, rape and torture. 

 There are a  whole lot of Iranian Patty hearsts in the ranks of supporters of the Islamist republic. There are those who have directly experienced the Islamist hospitality at Evin and many other palaces who have succomed to rapes and tortures and became “tavvaab”. 

 And there are those who are ideologically comitted to a dream that has become a living nightmare, lacking the fortitude to be honest with themselves they do perpetuate the lie by participating in the charade and support their own Islamist tormentors. 

cyrous moradi

تا بوده چنین بوده

cyrous moradi

سلام آقای پرهام فکر نمی کنم وضعیت فعلی کشورمان را بتوان دقیقاً معادل سندرم استکهلم دانست. در آن مدل همه گروگانها قبلاً آزاد بوده و تصویری از زندگی آزاد دارند ولی در مورد ایران تا آنجایی که من  میدانم تا بوده چنین بوده است. حتی هیچ شاهد و سند تایید شده ای هم در دست نیست که نشان دهد ، وضعیت کشور ما در قبل از اسلام بهتر بوده باشد. در مورد ما بهتر است از عبارت تغییر گروگان گیران صحبت بشود تا سندروم استکهلم. در ایران تا جایی که من میدانم همواره از نظر توده مردم قدرت یعنی مشروعیت( حد اقل در ظاهر) یاد " حاکم بازی" در عروسی های روستائیان مناطق غربی کشورمان افتادم. در این بازی یک صندلی برای حاکم می گذارند. حاکم دارای جلادی است که حکمش رواست و هر چه حاکم بگوید اجرا خواهد کرد. هر کسی این حق را دارد که به وسیله ای صلاح میداند حاکم را از جا بلند کرده و جانشین او شود. در این صورت بعد از جابجایی ، حضار از حاکم جدید تبعیت کرده و جلاد دستورات وی را اجرا خواهد کرد. بهترین تجربه در این خصوص به نظر من ، حوادث 25 سال اخیر در افغانستان است. مردم افغان بر خلاف آنچه گفته می شود ، مشکل زیادی با حکومت کمونیستی ژنرال نجیب نداشتند و الان هم عکس وی در کابل کاملاً پر فروش است. وقتی طالبان قدرت را به دست گرفتند ، مردم به نحوی با آنها کنار آمدند و هم اکنون نیز تا وقتی حکومت کرزای بتواند با حمایت آمریکا ، قدرت را در کابل حفظ کند، بااین رژیم مدارا خواهند کرد. به طور خلاصه من فکر می کنم که تکریم قدرت همواره در فرهنگ ما ریشه داشته و دارد. در افواه مردم داستانهای زیادی از حوادث 28 مرداد سال 32 جاری است. جایی که مردم یک روز می گفتند زنده باد مصدق و فردا  داد زدند جاوید شاه. آن ضرب المثل قدمی که می گوید : هر که در شد تو دالان باش  -- هر که خر شد تو پالان باش مصداق این روحیه مردم ماست.


Yep !

by SamSamIIII on


It,s a 1400 yr old syndrom of subjugation to culture, language & psyche of occupation regime  aka Ommatism .


It,s only hard pressed to show it,s naked face in last 30 yrs due to Qadesiyeh II of 1979 , otherwise , it,s the natural extension of the virus that has afflicted our psyche since 637AD with the same sympthoms of dual identity & inaction in the face of tyrany . IRI is only a by-product of that psyche . Look for causes of this virus among our own kharabati , sufi , malijak ilk of Ommatie elitiists/writers/philosopher & shaikhak poets who transformed a  proud Iranic heritage with self worth into a serfdom of Ajam bardeh who always looks to foreign force of avengers to do her deeds and blame safe targets for her inactions . nothing new here , same old same old ...Welcome to Ommatestan . Now before we can even come close to reclaime that old proud psyche and bury the status quo & it,s guardians , one must reclaime her language & culture since these are the 1st line of defence in face of Pan-Ommah occupation . Hence it is upon every one of us to use more Parsi vocab in our daily conversations & narratives as a first lesson in emancipation 101. Az maa goftan 

Cheers patriot!!!



Flying Solo


by Flying Solo on