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How Related is the Stockholm and Lima Syndrome


What are the Similarities Between Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome?

Stockholm and Lima's syndrome are truly fascinating psychological phenomena that shed light on the complex relationship between captives and captors.

Both of the syndromes explore the unexpected development of empathic bonds and positive emotions in situations of captivity. 

They challenge our understanding and how our minds work in extreme situations.  Even though each syndrome looks at things from a different angle, they have some important connections that can help us understand the complicated nature of these mental processes.

But first, I would like to share more about Stockholm and Lima syndrome, and what exactly they are.


What is Stockholm syndrome?

Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological reaction to captivity & abuse. It happens when hostages or abusers bond with their captors and abusers.

This psychological link develops over days, weeks, months, or even sometimes after years of captivity or abuse.

 Thus Stockholm syndrome, hostages or abuse victims might come to sympathize with their captors. It is the opposite of the terror, fear, and disdain that might be expected from the victim in these circumstances.

Few captives eventually grow to have favorable sentiments for their oppressors. They might even start to feel as if they share common causes and goals.

The victim might start to develop negative feelings toward the authorities or police. They might resent anybody who might be trying to help them escape from the extreme situation they are in.

This paradox doesn’t occur with each, and it is unclear why it happens when it does. Many medical and psychological experts think that Stockholm syndrome might help sufferers cope with the stress of a dreadful illness.  

Mental health professionals don’t recognize it as an official mental disorder. As an outcome, it’s not listed in the 5th edition of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic & Statistical Mental Disorders). 


Main Symptoms 

Guilt or self-blame

Fear of separation or rescue 

Feeling emotionally linked to the abuser 

Cognitive dissonance

Feeling irritated, distrustful, jittery, or anxious

Negative feelings towards authorities 

Positive feelings toward the captor  

Trouble concentrating etc.


Since Stockholm syndrome can be a consequence of several different factors in any hostage situation. However, the most common causes are sexual or physical assaults, isolation from the outside world, and threats against your loved ones.


What is Lima Syndrome?

Lima Syndrome is a medical emergency that can happen in prisoners and hostages of war. It’s named for Peru's capital, Lima, where it was 1st reported.

This syndrome is characterized by the development of positive connections for their captives. This connection could be empathy, sympathy, love, or even attachment.

The captor, having developed a connection with the captive, does things in favor of the captive. Although Lima is the polar opposite of Stockholm syndrome they still have many similarities. In this circumstance, victims and captors become sympathetic to the desires and demands of their victims or captives.

Main Symptoms 

Excessive concern for the welfare of the captive 

Change of heart 

Reluctance to use force 

Errors in judgment that might endanger the hostage 

Emotional withdrawal from interrogations & decision making 

Becoming more attentive etc.


Although, experts are still not sure what causes Lima syndrome. But there has been research conducted on the niche. The term Lima syndrome was used during the hostage situation in Peru. After that, medical experts examined those involved & discovered that several MTRA members developed positive connections toward hostages. A few even stated that they wanted to return to Japan for education. However most causes have hurt no innocents, predator turned protector and very high status to do held captive, identifying with the captives, love the ones who love you, etc.


Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome - The Similarities

Here’re the main similarities between Stockholm syndrome and Lima Syndrome:


Psychological Defense Mechanism: One important shared characteristic among 2 syndromes is the notion that these positive connections emerge as a psychological defense mechanism. The captives might adopt these as a way to deal with the overwhelming helplessness, fear, and unpredictability of their situations. By establishing a connection with their captors, they might feel a security or sense of control.

Captive-Captor Relationship: Both of the syndromes involve a unique bond between captives and their captors. In both cases, the captives generate a degree of positive feelings or empathy towards the individuals who hold them captive. This positive bond might appear paradoxical or irrigational given the threatening & coercive nature of the condition.

Identification with Captors: In both syndromes, captives might identify or align themselves with their captors. They might adopt their justifications, perspectives, and goals as a way to make a physical bonding. This identification can blur the line between the captive and the captor, developing a sense of camaraderie.

Humanization captors: Another similarity between captives to humanization captors. They might start to see them as more than just individuals responsive to their flaws, recognizing their vulnerabilities, captivity, or even moments of kindness. It can contribute to the creation of positive feelings and empathy towards the captors.

Inversion of Power Dynamics: The main commonality among Stockholm and Lima Syndromes is the inversion/reversal of the power dynamic between the captive and captor. In both circumstances, the captives perceive their captors as having control over their lives and they might subconsciously look to appease or gain favor with them. The reversal part can make an emotional link and a willingness to conform to the captor's demands as a means of self-preservation.

Psychological Coping Mechanism: Both Stockholm and Lima syndromes can be seen as psychological coping mechanisms in response to the stress & trauma of captivity. The development of positive connections towards the captors in Stockholm syndrome and the change of heat in Lima serve as ways for captors and captives, respectively, to control the emotional turmoil and adapt to challenging situations.

Distorted Perception of Reality: Both Stockholm and Lima syndromes involve a distorted perception of reality between the captives. They might rationalize or downplay the captor's harmful or abusive behavior, often attributing it to external factors such as misunderstood intent or coercion. It can serve as a psychological defense mechanism, letting the captives maintain an emotional connection with their mitigated feelings and captors of helplessness and fear. 

Traumatic Bonding: Both syndromes illustrate the concept of traumatic connections. Captives develop a deep and strong emotional link with their captors due to the shared trauma they experience combine. This connection arises from the captive reliance on their captors for protection and survival, developing a strong psychological attachment.

Survival Strategy: Another similarity is that both syndromes can be seen as adaptive survival strategies. In Stockholm syndrome, the captives generate emotional connections to their captors in the belief that it boosts their chances of survival and decreases the risk of harm. In Lima syndrome, the captor experiences a change of heart and creates empathy/sympathy towards their hostages, potentially leading to their release or protection. These strategies reflect the “captors and captives” trying to navigate the hostile surrounding and secure their well-being.

Self-preservation Strategies: In both Stockholm and Lima syndromes, captives employ several strategies to make sure their survival. These strategies might involve compliance with the captor's demands, actively looking for ways to please or appease them, or trying to align themselves with the captor's interests. By doing so, the captives believe they can decrease the risk of harm & boost their survival chances.

Emotional Bonding: In Stockholm and Lima syndromes, captives experience a unique emotional connection with their captors. This connection can manifest as loyalty, feelings of trust, and even affection toward the individuals who’re holding them captive. It might feel a sense of shared experiences or ties with their captors, despite the adversarial nature of the circumstance.

Social Isolation: Stockholm and Lima Syndromes can involve a sense of social isolation. In Stockholm syndrome, captives might feel disconnected from their social platforms or view their captors as their main source of social interaction. In Lima syndrome, captors might experience a shift in their connections with their social circles or peers due to their change in attitudes along with the hostage.

Closing Thoughts…

Both syndromes share similarities in the development of positive feelings and empathetic connections among captives and captors, despite the coercive nature of the circumstance.

Stockholm and Lima's syndromes serve as a psychological defense mechanism, offering security and a sense of control. Complex emotions, role reversal, and dependence on captors are also observed.

Studying these syndromes improves our understanding of the psychological procedures with captivity. More research is required to entirely comprehend the phenomena and give support to individuals affected by such situations.

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