I mean there should be an implication of meaning that someone(kidnapper) first treats you badly, then suddenly changes his attitude to treat less badly. This sudden change makes the object(hostage) become grateful as a result.

I have searched online but only to find that Stockholm syndrome only describes the kidnapping condition, are there any other words match the above implication of meaning?

Examples: parents first treats their children strictly like grounded for a week, but then change into less strictly grounded for half a week. This change then makes the children become grateful. Another example, China has a Great Fire Wall that separate its people from reaching the world outside through internet without Vpn, after such long time of oppression, the people gradually become obedient by confronting themselves at least they still have the internet to use inside the wall or think that the world outside have dangerous/unhealthy information, yet they don't argue who should be responsible for this inconvenience but continually comply to the governence of Chinese Communist Party.

  • It certainly may be applied metaphorically to other situations. But it's a judgement call when it is, there are no "rules".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 12:27
  • 1
    Although specific medical conditions are usually strictly defined it is quite common that when the general public starts to use such medical terms it will be in a broader context and/or completely incorrectly. - Also I think that in your summary the implication that a change of behavior in the action of the kidnapper is the cause of Stockholm syndrome is not quite correct, but I'm not a psychiatrist.
    – HBruijn
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 12:28

1 Answer 1


Stockholm Syndrome refers to hostage's relation to captors, not abductee's relation to kidnappers. Does not require change in captor's treatment of hostage, merely hostage's natural attempt to incur captor's favor by ingratiating themselves with captor. Symptoms tend to persist even after hostage is freed. Behavior can occur in any Dominant / Submissive relationship.

  • I see, so it is no the change be the cause, but the power to spare the favor becomes the cause. Any other similar words/phrases to Stockholm syndrome?
    – Jeffson
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 13:09
  • Not that I know of. You'll find more on the subject at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome
    – Bob Pro
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 13:17

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