Dugard case: The Stockholm Syndrome theory

One of the most baffling elements of Jaycee Lee Dugard’s story is why she never attempted to escape during 18 long years of captivity at the hands of the man who kidnapped her and raped her.

Despite the elaborate lengths to which Phillip Garrido went to hide Ms Dugard along with their two children, it has also emerged that he regularly exposed her to public contact. Several people have reported seeing Jaycee — or Allissa, as Garrido called her — in the open.

Ralph Hernandez, a retired police officer from Garrido’s home town of Antioch in California, told this reporter that he visited the house last year to talk to Garrido about some work. He was introduced in the living room to a blonde woman who looked about 20 — Ms Dugard is now 29 but is said to appear much younger. The woman was quiet and polite, but said nothing.

A similar account was given by Ben Daughdrill, a customer of Garrido’s printing business. He told The New York Times he was introduced to a young woman who Garrido said was his daughter Allissa and later exchanged emails and phone calls with her. “She was the design person; she did the art work; she was the genius,” said Mr. Daughdrill.

Another customer told the Contra Costa Times Ms Dugard would sometimes be seen in the house wearing gloves and with printer’s ink all over her clothes.

After their dramatic reunion, Ms Dugard told her mother Terry that she felt guilty that she had not escaped, and for having bonded with Garrido. That has led to speculation that Ms Dugard exhibits the classic signs of Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological disorder in which a captive comes over time to feel entirely dependant on, and even affectionate towards, his or her captor.

It is named after a bank robbery in Stockholm in 1972 in which the bank workers became emotionally attached to the criminals over a six-day hostage ordeal.

The most notorious case is probably that of Patty Hearst, granddaughter of the publishing magnate, William Randolph Hearst, who became a member of the outlawed Symbionese Liberation Army having been abducted by them.

Joseph Carver, a U.S. psychologist with expertise in Stockholm Syndrome, said that Ms Dugard’s situation met all the criteria of such a reaction, but stressed it was a survival mechanism rather than anything to do with romance. “If we think about it, her bonding with the kidnapping duo probably saved her life, as well as the lives of her two children.”

Mr. Carver said that recovery would probably take a long time, not only for Ms Dugard but also for her children and her family. “Emotionally, the family is reliving both her initial loss and return,” he said. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2009

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2020 5:19:17 AM |

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