• An Unidentified Epidemic

    Email Print

    an imaginary address to a group of Psychoanalysts who are also Libertarians.

    fellow colleagues, and the members of the media in attendance today:
    I wish to bring to your attention today the existence of an epidemic
    that has been going on in our midst without being identified as
    such. I refer to the condition to which you are all familiar called
    Stockholm syndrome. Since this condition was first described by
    Dr. Bejerot in 1973, it has typically been thought of as an isolated
    phenomenon, affecting individuals and small groups, but not affecting
    a significant portion of the population. In my presentation that
    follows, I am suggesting that when we consider Stockholm syndrome
    to be confined to those who have gone through extraordinary conditions,
    such as the tragic case involving the kidnapping of Patty Hearst,
    we overlook the broader prevalence of this condition.

    us review the Wikipedia definition of Stockholm syndrome, which
    I have reproduced on the following slide:

    Stockholm syndrome is a psychological
    response of a hostage, or an individual in a hostage-like situation
    (e.g. dependent child, battered wife, etc) in which the more powerful
    person (captor, partner, child
    ) (a) has the power to put the individual’s life
    in danger or at least the power to worsen the individual’s prospects
    for the future life, and (b) occasionally exercises this
    power in order to show that he or she is able to use it, if the
    victim will not conform to the more powerful person’s will. The
    main symptom of the syndrome is the individual’s seeming loyalty
    to the more powerful person in spite of the danger (or at least
    risk) that this loyalty puts them in.

    previous meetings, many presenters have asked why we see such loyalty
    to the State, in spite of the inherent danger and destructiveness
    in that relationship. Why do so many continue to pledge allegiance
    to the State, after all of the expropriation, the incarceration,
    the conscription, and the unfulfilled promises? I say that we are
    seeing Stockholm syndrome writ large! In the rest of my talk, I
    will review the mechanisms for transmission of this epidemic, the
    recommended protocol for treating, the prognosis for those affected,
    and the scope of the epidemic.


    appear to be a number of different avenues for transmitting this
    form of Stockholm syndrome. While the setting for each varies, what
    all have in common is the indoctrination of the notion that the
    State is all-powerful and indispensable, and that it has done great
    things for the people in past times. One such mode of transmission
    is from parent to child. We have seen that the Church has frequently
    been an effective transmitter of this syndrome, though as in the
    family, the precise message will vary from one institution to the
    next. The government schools have also proven to be an important
    contributor to the epidemic. Needless to say, the political parties
    have contributed greatly to this epidemic. Finally, the major media
    plays a critical role in reminding us of the power of the State
    and acting as a role model for being subservient to it. While this
    list should not be considered comprehensive, these appear to be
    the most significant contexts for the transmission of this epidemic.

    of the setting, there are a couple of key transmission mechanisms
    involved. We almost always see the use of vague and confusing language
    which are meant to induce loyalty. Typical phrases would include
    the following:

    • Social
    • War
      to make the world safe for democracy
    • New
    • Rock
      the vote
    • Support
      the troops
    • Government
      of the people, by the people, for the people

    these confusing words and phrases is the teaching of a view of American
    history which, while giving lip service to occasional government
    mistakes, will on the whole transmit the message that the State
    has a glorious history and that things have gotten steadily better
    over the course of U.S. history.

    there is the actual or threatened ostracism invoked when the individual
    says something that calls into question his loyalty to the State's
    agenda. He then discovers that he is “UnAmerican," an “America
    Hater," an “Isolationist," a “Social Darwinist,"
    a “Liberal," a “Racist," or any one of many other characterizations,
    depending upon the nature of his position taken and the people reacting
    to it.


    there is no standard protocol for treating this manifestation of
    Stockholm syndrome, I would like to bring your attention to some
    of the approaches that have been found to be successful in the field.
    We have found most success when this condition is caught early and
    it has not become fully entrenched in the psyche.

    word of warning is in order about an especially virulent strain
    of this condition characterized by strong identification with one
    of the political parties. Those who are so afflicted may give the
    appearance of demanding self-determination, but they only work to
    improve the terms of their captivity. They want a new warden-in-chief
    since they object to Tuesday night being Spaghetti night. They know
    that American principle, tradition, and values all prove beyond
    the shadow of a doubt that Tuesday night should be Meatloaf night.
    It never occurs to them that people should decide for themselves
    what fare to partake. As Professor
    has so well described, these folks project all that
    is wrong with the State onto their professed enemies. For these
    folks, politics is just
    a game
    . In short, one is liable to find considerable resistance
    among those affected by the partisan strain of Stockholm syndrome.

    have found that one does not need to be an expert in the traditional
    tools of psychoanalysis, but the use of effective
    communication techniques
    is critical. Naturally, the logical
    basis for countering this affliction is to encourage the sufferer
    to reject the misinformation involved in the transmission itself.
    As such, the protocol calls for a full course of training in free
    market economics and an intensive study of revisionist history.
    The exact texts to be utilized will vary with the individuals involved.

    in the case of apparent success, the risk of relapse is high and
    some methods of prevention are advised. The individual in recovery
    is advised to take 2 extra-strength emails each morning. For this
    purpose, the publications of LewRockwell.com
    and the Future of
    have proven effective. Finally, in cases of emergency,
    we have reports from the field that speeches
    by Ron Paul
    have provided the necessary antidote.


    mentioned before, if caught early, with appropriate support a sufferer
    can deprogram himself and achieve a full and permanent recovery.
    Nevertheless, there is an insidious nature to this condition which
    we must confront. Those afflicted with Stockholm syndrome (as we
    have traditionally thought of it) wreak havoc on their own lives
    and the lives of those in their immediate circle. This is true of
    those afflicted with the Statism variety as well, as they may abandon
    friends and family to spend time and money on a campaign for a new
    warden-in-chief or do many other counterproductive things. However,
    the Statist is not content to endanger and destroy himself; he will
    also work to bring the State's destruction on his neighbor who is
    not so afflicted. Thus this epidemic is like a cancer which, if
    it were to metastasize sufficiently, could destroy the entire nation.
    This is why we must ultimately embark on a program of inoculation,
    to prevent this disturbance from taking root in the first place.

    Scope of the Epidemic

    far, I have mostly referred to the American experience with this
    previously unidentified version of Stockholm syndrome. One should
    not get the idea that this is solely an American problem, though.
    We have received reports from all over the world which suggest that
    it is a truly global phenomenon. From Professor Karlsson's reports,
    it is clear that the syndrome is going strong in that great bastion
    of welfare statism, Sweden. Come to think of it, my fellow analysts,
    do you really think that it is a mere coincidence that this syndrome
    was first discovered in Sweden?

    4, 2005

    Saul Weiner [send him mail]
    is an actuary and writer living in the suburbs of Chicago.

    Email Print