Sunday, January 06, 2013

Surviving terrorism

Remember Patty Hearst? Here is her story:

American newspaper heiress Patty Hearst is described as having been “groomed for a life of leisure.” When she was 19 years old, she was living with her fiancé, Steven Weed, in Berkeley, California. On February 4, 1974, members of the leftist Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) forced their way into the couple’s apartment, beat Weed unconscious with a wine bottle, and kidnapped Hearst.

One of the SLA’s first demands to Hearst’s father was that he feed all of California’s poor. Hearst was blindfolded, forced to remain in a tiny closet for two months, and was physically and sexually abused by SLA members. Essentially, she was subjected to a typical Maoist prescription for thought control – or brainwashing.

Two months after her initial capture, Hearst announced that she was joining the rebels and that her new name was Tania. What’s more, she later participated in a bank robbery. And although Hearst spent 22 months in prison for her part in the crime, President Jimmy Carter eventually commuted her sentence in 1979. Later, in his last official act before leaving office, President Bill Clinton gave Hearst a full pardon.

Hearst’s case is considered a classic example of Stockholm syndrome. Hostages with the syndrome are sympathetic towards their captors, even to the point of defending them. And according to an online medical dictionary, “people who often feel helpless” and “are willing to do anything in order to survive” are more likely to develop the syndrome. After her release from prison, Hearst married her former bodyguard, Bernard Shaw, and has since settled in New York.

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