Experts Still Don't Understand Stockholm Syndrome

A security camera photo released by the FBI  that shows Patricia Hearst during a bank robbery in San Francisco in April 1974.
A security camera photo released by the FBI that shows Patricia Hearst during a bank robbery in San Francisco in April 1974.
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Stockholm Syndrome is a common plot device in movies and books. But the psychological phenomenon—which was made famous in 1974 by Patty Hearst (above), the heiress who was kidnapped but later participated in a bank robbery with her captors, the Symbionese Liberation Army—is much more rare in real life. This makes it hard for experts to study, and even prompts them to question whether Stockholm Syndrome is actually a syndrome.

Nils Bejerot, a Swedish criminologist and psychiatrist, reportedly coined the term Stockholm Syndrome in 1973, following a bank robbery in Sweden in which four people were held for six days by their captors. Once they were rescued, the victims all defended the robbers and refused to testify against them. Since then, other similar instances have occurred, but not nearly enough for clinicians to create a list of criteria and treatment strategies for its inclusion in the American Psychiatric Association's DSM handbook.

That said, psychologists do know some things about Stockholm Syndrome, gleaned from interviews with people who have been held in a hostage situation. By watching the video below, you can learn what we do know about the rare condition, and why individuals might develop it, according to SciShow Psych.

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

3D Map Shows the Milky Way Galaxy in Unprecedented Detail

ESA
ESA

It's our galactic home, but the Milky Way contains many mysteries scientists are working to unravel. Now, as The Guardian reports, astronomers at the European Space Agency have built a 3D map that provides the most detailed look at our galaxy yet.

The data displayed in the graphic below has been seven years in the making. In 2013, the ESA launched its Gaia observatory from Kourou in French Guiana. Since then, two high-powered telescopes aboard the spacecraft have been sweeping the skies, recording the locations, movements, and changes in brightness of more than a billion stars in the Milky Way and beyond.

Using Gaia's findings, astronomers put together a 3D map that allows scientists to study the galaxy in greater depth than ever before. The data has made it possible to measure the acceleration of the solar system. By comparing the solar system's movement to that of more remote celestial objects, researchers have determined that the solar system is slowly falling toward the center of the galaxy at an acceleration of 7 millimeters per second per year, The Guardian reports. Additionally, the map reveals how matter is distributed throughout the Milky Way. With this information, scientists should be able to get an estimate of the galaxy's mass.

Gaia's observations may also hold clues to the Milky Way's past and future. The data holds remnants of the 10-billion-year-old disc that made up the edge of the star system. By comparing it to the shape of the Milky Way today, astronomers have determined that the disc will continue to expand as new stars are created.

The Gaia observatory was launched with the mission of gathering an updated star census. The previous census was conducted in 1957, and Gaia's new data reaches four times farther and accounts for 100 times more stars.

[h/t The Guardian]