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#382515 - 01/16/12 04:03 AM Is it Stockholm Syndrome?
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3363
Loc: somewhere in Africa
The bully who abused and tormented me in my middle school years is also the major figure in my fantasies. I am both repelled and attracted by his physical image and appearance.

When it started, I was 11 and he must have been about 15. I was a little kid with no knowledge of anything sexual except for the things I’d been exposed to through my step-father’s abuse and the dirty talk and show & tell of classmates. He was a full-grown and physically mature man with the physique of a super-hero and a set of sex organs that wouldn’t have fit into a G-rated pair of tights for a family-friendly film. He was an arrogant jerk and he had a lot to be arrogant about. Everyone seemed to hero-worship him and he could do no wrong – he got away with anything short of murder. And he had an entourage who served as a gang of henchmen – to do his bidding and inflict his will on anyone that his whim decreed was a fitting victim. I was at the top of his list.

Ever since then, he has been my ideal of the perfect male – physically muscular and well-proportioned, sexually well-endowed, athletically gifted and skilled, socially confident, a natural leader, popular, admired, imitated, obeyed, and powerfully influential because of looks, strength, macho image and forceful personality. (Of course he was also cruel, insensitive, not particularly intelligent or educated, and a self-centered, dominating bastard, but – hey, those things prove he’s not a weak, effeminate wimp – right?) He was everything that I was not – and I feared and envied him. I wanted to be him and not my sad little pathetic loser self.

Out of sense of self-preservation, I started watching him whenever he was within my range of vision. In a weird way, I felt honored to be noticed by him – even if it was in a negative context. I both dreaded and was thrilled at his attention. When not at school, I would think about him and imagine him being nice to me. I developed a sick dependence on his awareness – almost an adrenaline rush – that now I think of as almost like a “crush.” I was always hoping – just like with my step-father – for just one word or gesture – just the tiniest sign – of kindness or approval or acceptance. I would willingly have been his abject slave. By turns he ignored me or bullied me and then ignored me again. He treated me like a contemptible dog. And so that is how I saw myself. (But on the other hand, I never developed any attraction or attachment to my step-father at all – even though he treated me similarly. Just fear and hatred. Maybe because he didn’t fit the popular stereotype of the “handsome jock”? He was just a “dirty old man.”)

Two years after our paths first crossed and he became the center of my universe, my family moved away to a different town. I was glad to be free of him. But I missed him too. There was a big hole where he used to occupy the majority of my attention. For a while I still compared every other guy I met to him. Then I buried the memories and moved on. I’m not sure when he came back to haunt me. I know I wrote a story in college that included him as a character – but without the level of abuse that was the reality.

The problem now is – I can’t get free of this image of what a real, ideal man should be. My mind tells me otherwise, but my gut instincts don’t agree. I always come up short in comparison in every way that the media and the world says really matters. And I still have that crush on his image. I look for clones of him online and have never found a photo of a model that equals my idealized memory. I fantasize about him. I’m still aroused by the memories of what he did and how he looked and even how I felt. I am ashamed of that and wish I could put it behind me.

I’ve been wondering if I have been affected by the Stockholm syndrome, the tendency to flip and take the side of one’s captors and form an emotional bond with those who have abused you. I’ve done some reading on-line and some of it seems very relevant. But another site said that it only applies in kidnapping cases – and that was not literally what happened to me. I guess it doesn’t really matter if I can put that name on it. But it sure helps me to explain why I acted that way and still feel this way. It just sounds crazy otherwise. So weird to voluntarily imagine the abuser and pretend it was a good thing. Could it be that I’m trying to re-write history to make it seem less traumatic?

Here’s a couple of quotes and links to the sites they came from that I thought might apply:

“'Stockholm Syndrome' is the name given to a particular manifestation of this phenomenon - the strange behavior of kidnap victims who eventually become sympathizers with, or even romantically attached to, their abductors… We become conditioned or 'brainwashed' through emotional intensity. We come to feel that intensity itself is 'important' and even 'profound' when, in fact, it is just intensity. If someone makes us feel strongly emotional in some way or we become connected to them during a time of strong emotion, then that strong emotion may 'glue' an emotional connection in place between you and them…

• high physiological arousal becomes falsely linked to a feeling of attraction (rather than just a feeling of fear)
• a person who is kidnapped is forced into a high level of focus on the kidnapper
• high levels of focus are the precursor and mainstay of any intimate relationship.

Dutton, D. G., & Aron, A. (1974). Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 510-517.

http://www.uncommon-knowledge.co.uk/psychology_articles/stockholm-syndrome.html

“Cognitive Dissonance" explains how and why people change their ideas and opinions to support situations that do not appear to be healthy, positive, or normal. In the theory, an individual seeks to reduce information or opinions that make him or her uncomfortable. When we have two sets of cognitions (knowledge, opinion, feelings, input from others, etc.) that are the opposite, the situation becomes emotionally uncomfortable. Even though we might find ourselves in a foolish or difficult situation – few want to admit that fact. Instead, we attempt to reduce the dissonance - the fact that our cognitions don't match, agree, or make sense when combined. "Cognitive Dissonance" can be reduced by adding new cognitions – adding new thoughts and attitudes.

… Studies tell us we are more loyal and committed to something that is difficult, uncomfortable, and even humiliating. The initiation rituals of college fraternities, Marine boot camp, and graduate school all produce loyal and committed individuals. Almost any ordeal creates a bonding experience.

… Investment and an ordeal are ingredients for a strong bonding – even if the bonding is unhealthy. …

Abusive relationships produce a great amount of unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship.

http://www.mental-health-matters.com/component/content/article/167?start=3

_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#382595 - 01/17/12 10:02 AM Re: Is it Stockholm Syndrome? [Re: traveler]
Mountainous Buck Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/15/09
Posts: 1626
Loc: Minnesota
No matter what it is labeled, my abuse took from me and strongly influenced my sexuality early on. I need to reclaim those things for myself.

My life's journey is to undo the damage and imprinting those boys left me with-I've always been jealous and even lusted after athletic figures - this dates to my abuse by my brothers running team members who were trim and fit.

What has helped me greatly is to reclaim myself and my sense of masculinity the abuse took from me:

-i stopped the re-opening and deepening of those wounds that came by sexual acting out on these and similar memories, including images in my mind and from porn. Those things only feed my brokenness and isolation and sense of frustration cuz they never really delivered what I deeply needed.

-i build safe and intimate non sexual connection with others -especially men-
And with myself- taking a break from any kind if sexual activity helped me discover and claim my own authentic sexuality sidetracked by the abuse and poor modeling and messages about male sexuality pounded into me when I was young.

-I Learn by taking rikss and doing-especially taking different actions opposite of what I had been doing and seeking out support with my questions. Struggles and problems from men on this path of recovery.

-I also work out to be in shape-so that more and more I have the body I used to covet

I am not stuck to the past. I have options and can choose a different way-for now. I can certainly ensure the pain and discomfort that comes from new choices- even choices I have been avoiding for too long.



Edited by Mountainous Buck (01/17/12 01:38 PM)
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It matters where you go" Frank Turner

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#382650 - 01/17/12 09:06 PM Re: Is it Stockholm Syndrome? [Re: traveler]
Avery46 Offline


Registered: 09/23/10
Posts: 1243
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: traveler
...ideal man should be....


traveler,

I truly understand where you are talking about. I too have had my fantasies.

What I had to do to find "peace" and resolve was realize, the "ideal" man is you. The "ideal" man is me. We are all who we need to be.

The mental health professionals, I have come in contact with including my therapist state - comparing - myself with others is very harmful.

Lots of Kudos to you for seeking out the answers for yourself.

Peace,
Avery

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aka DJsport

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#382676 - 01/18/12 02:38 AM Re: Is it Stockholm Syndrome? [Re: Avery46]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3363
Loc: somewhere in Africa
M.B. & Avery -

WOW - this is so challenging. Right now it seems very difficult to put into practice - nearly impossible - so maybe that means it is helpful and worth the work...

Avery - any keys to stopping the comparisons?
I have a lifetime's practice in NOT seeing myself as acceptable - much less as seeing myself as ideal. Somehow repeating mantras and affirmations has never worked for me cuz i have a hard time believing anybody - even myself on a conscious level - tho I guess I believe lots of garbage I tell myself under the radar.

Mountainous Buck - you gave some very specific suggestions. i appreciate that. I've been able to wean myself from porn with help from MS. Hope this doesn't sound creepy - but participating here has helped to fill a need with constructive effort that I was trying unsuccessfully to satisfy with images and fantasies.
You suggested: "-i build safe and intimate non sexual connection with others -especially men-" and that sounds both very healthy - and very terrifying to me. How do you get started? I've avoided anything but surface relationships for years. Avoiding acting out is not a problem since I've never *voluntarily* engaged sexually with anyone except my wife - and right now she has put herself off-limits. The working out part is a problem since much bullying and abuse took place in the gym, pool, Y and locker room.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

I sound so negative and so needy. That's a habit I have to overcome - always finding a rationalization for why I am an exception.

OK - enuf crying in my beer - gotta change - bottom line. I will really take these tips to heart - and i thank you.
Lee

_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#382709 - 01/18/12 12:14 PM Re: Is it Stockholm Syndrome? [Re: traveler]
Mountainous Buck Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/15/09
Posts: 1626
Loc: Minnesota
Hey Lee,

It is not creepy to find that honest and vulnerable communication with other men fills a deep need: In so many ways this IS healthy intimacy and learning to experience it helps untangle intimacy from sex: it was that confusion and messing with my wiring that the SA left me with.

My confusion of sex with intimacy had to be resolved: it started with getting intimate on an emotional and even spiritual level with myself- Avery spoke to that pretty well, I think.

Secrets undermine intimacy and breed distrust and fear. I cannot base my life and my relationships on falsehoods and lies.

In my 12 step work I have learned to develop honest communication with other suffering people who are intent on recovery. Those two principles: honest communication and intention to recovery, can form a powerful bond and open a path towards healing and a life that is connected and integrated.

You are not an exception-nor am I. We were damaged in specific and intrusive ways and our job now is to work to undo the damage and heal.

Lately I've been thinking about sexual intimacy and what that means: for me it is an expression of healthy sexuality, emotional intimacy, love, and desire to be fulfilled in a very special way. There are other ways to practice intimacy, too. But the sexual part was the biggest challenge and one of the biggest rewards for me on this road.

PS: Seek out ways to improve: the gym I use doesn't have a locker room or showers-avoiding triggers is part of taking care of ourselves.



Edited by Mountainous Buck (01/18/12 12:15 PM)
_________________________
We have to take responsibility for what we're not responsible for.

“It doesn't matter where you've come from,
It matters where you go" Frank Turner

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#382755 - 01/18/12 08:17 PM Re: Is it Stockholm Syndrome? [Re: Mountainous Buck]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3363
Loc: somewhere in Africa
Hey, MB & Avery!

"... I truly understand where you are talking about. ... We are all who we need to be."

"... honest and vulnerable communication with other men fills a deep need: In so many ways this IS healthy intimacy and learning to experience it helps untangle intimacy from sex ..."

"... honest and vulnerable communication with other men fills a deep need: In so many ways this IS healthy intimacy and learning to experience it helps untangle intimacy from sex ..."

"... Secrets undermine intimacy and breed distrust and fear. I cannot base my life and my relationships on falsehoods and lies."

This is like gold to me.
Thanks again - from deep in my heart -
Lee

_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


Top
#382854 - 01/19/12 03:21 PM Re: Is it Stockholm Syndrome? [Re: Mountainous Buck]
Still Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6400
Loc: 2.5 NATO Nations
Originally Posted By: Mountainous Buck
No matter what it is labeled, my abuse took from me and strongly influenced my sexuality early on. I need to reclaim those things for myself.


That's where I boil it down to too. My Ts have all had to learn a H A T E cliche labels like Stockholm Syn. Did I mention that I "HATE them?" We all derive our own product from our experiences. i don't want to be squished into any pre-cast mold for someone's "universally understood notes."

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#383084 - 01/22/12 09:49 AM Re: Is it Stockholm Syndrome? [Re: Still]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3363
Loc: somewhere in Africa
OK, Robbie, I'm not trying to put a label on YOU, but if I know it is a recognizable pattern that has been identified and studied, that makes ME feel better. There are some labels and boxes that I reject and rebel against too. But I've felt like a unique and lonely freak for too long. Knowing other people have responded to similar situations in similar ways is actually a comfort to me. It helps me make sense of a chaotic and confusing situation. I've benefitted from many of your posts and respect you for your stand. Thanks for being a major contributor to MS.
Regards,
lee

_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


Top
#383087 - 01/22/12 10:33 AM Re: Is it Stockholm Syndrome? [Re: traveler]
1islandboy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 858
Loc: washington
There is a lot of interesting research on this subject...

I am of the belief that the more that we can be understood..the less power it will have upon illumination...

"The Betrayal Bond" By Patrick Carnes was probably the best book...that I have read...


Land of Confusion (Disturbed)

island


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Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine ~ M.F. Fernandez

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#383262 - 01/23/12 06:21 PM Re: Is it Stockholm Syndrome? [Re: 1islandboy]
peroperic2009 Offline
Moderator
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 3603
Loc: South-East Europe
Stockholm Syndrome is connected exclusively with hostage who make bond with kidnaper. I'm not sure is psychologically mechanism same in case when someone abused idealize abuser.I 'm currently reading this great book: The Betrayal Bond. And I've found some remarks which could give some light about this situation, it is about trauma bonds: "Basically, some people struggle with traumatic bonds. Those people stay involved or wish to stay involved with people who betrayed them. Emotional pain or severe consequences do not stop their caring commitment. Clinicians call this traumatic bonding. This means that victims have certain dysfunctional attachment that occurs in the presence of danger, shame or exploitation. There often is seduction, deception or betrayal. There is always some form of danger or risk.
Here are signs that trauma bonds exist:
- when you obsess about people who have hurt you and they are long gone (obsess means to be preoccupied, fantasize about and wonder about even though you do not want to)
- when you continue to seek contact with people whom you know will cause you further pain
- when you go "overboard" to help people who have been destructive to you
- when you continue being a "team" member when obviously things are becoming destructive
- when you continue attempts to get people who are clearly using you to like you
- when you again and again trust people who have proved to be unreliable
- when you are unable to distance yourself from unhealthy relationships
- when you want to be understood by those who clearly do not care
- etc."
I've found this very interesting!!!
pero

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