Why we should stop saying Bell has Stockholm Syndrone

It happens all the time, you see a cute cat video and you click on it and then there’s a hamster eating a tiny burrito! Before long you find yourself somewhere in the dark clickbaity part of the internet. Videos and articles with titles like. Seven dark things you didn’t realize about Disney or Thing in Disney movies that only grown-ups will understand or my personal favorite 10 ways that Disney films have scared you for life!

Don’t worry if you have fallen for these less than reputable tactics. They are designed to suck you in. A common thread amongst all of these articles is calling out Bell for her Stockholm Syndrome.(SS) It’s a cheap and easy thing to do most people only have a very basic understanding of SS and Bell’s situation kind of falls into those basic guidelines. So no one really questions it.

Bell’s Stockholm Syndrome is really a bad joke when you think about it. Bell was the Beast’s prisoner for a time and later fell in love with the Beast.  This is similar to what happens to some who experience SS, so it follows that Bell must suffer from the disorder.

It’s funny because upon close examination we see that Bells situation has nothing to do with SS. Beast is not a habitual abuser and Bell did not fall in love with him because of his mistreatment. Sure Beast comes off as rough in the beginning but has not the kind of monster that could inflict the severe psychological trauma that is associated with SS. If you want more proof? check out this article:

7 Reasons Beauty And The Beast Is Not a Tale Of Stockholm Syndrome by Veronica Poirier

An excellent article that covers almost all my major points about Bells supposed SS, and she did it first so I want to give her credit. It should be noted that she also gave credit to this tumbler post:

Why Beauty and the Beast is Not About Stockholm Syndrome by beeftony

So here are some more reasons that Bell does not have Stockholm Syndrome.

Similarity does not mean same. 

Okay, I’ve already mentioned this but I wanted to use a good example. Let’s look away from SS and look at another syndrome. Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

Now with this disorder sometimes caregivers often mothers give their children toxic or poisonous substances in order to make them sick and get attention. Here are two examples of mothers poisoning their own children. Um… Spoilers. The Sixth Sense and Flowers in the Attic 
In both movies, mothers poison their children without their knowledge, in both movies one of the children being poisoned died. But only one case counts as MSBP. The mother in The Sixth Sense makes her children six to gain attention. She does everything she can to make it well known that her children are sick, she has lots of guest at her daughter’s funeral, and she lavish in the attention she gets as people discuss her second child’s illness. 
In Flowers, in the Attic, the mother does everything in her power to keep people from knowing she has children at all. She is absolutely horrified when her children show up to her second marriage and everyone finds out. Before that none of the guest even knew she had children. She was not poisoning them for attention. Therefore it is not Munchausen syndrome by proxy. 

Stockholm Syndrome is not a real thing. (Sort of…)

Okay, this is the part I tell you that I’m not a real phycologist and do not have a license to practice phycology, therapy or any other fancy named stuff ending in ‘y.’ I’m an enthusiast but by no means an expert. However according to this article:

What is Stockholm syndrome? by Kathryn Westcott

There are no widely accepted diagnostic criteria to identify the syndrome, which is also known as terror-bonding or trauma bonding and it is not in either of the two main psychiatric manuals, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD).
Many of the articles I’ve read on the subject give me the impression that SS is more of a vague idea instead of a well-founded principle. Really how do you test this theory? It would be inhuman to force someone to undergo severe psychological trauma to see if they will shift emotionally and ideologically. 
Some believe that SS belongs under the blanket diagnosis of PTSD. That it is one of the myriad of ways that people deal with severe trauma. 
That is not to say that all phycologist think this way.

It sucks as a Blanket diagnosis. 

Okay, this one is straight up opinion. There seems to be a growing number of people who use SS to describe anytime someone remains in an abusive relationship. 
This website: Counseling Resources
Seems to suggest that as long as you fall within these bullet points:
  • Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
  • Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release
  • Support of the abuser’s reasons and behaviors
  • Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
  • Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times, helping the abuser
  • Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment
The problem is that we often overlook very important information and ascribe behaviors and identities to people who may not be experiencing the same thing.  Take Harly Quinn, she is said to have SS because of her abusive relationship with the Joker. Her case fit’s the broader profile. However, she didn’t fall in love with the Joker because. Now that is an important distinction in an of itself. The crux of SS is that abuse leads to adoration. 

But as it is indicated sometimes the SS begins after the initial part of the relationship has happened. So Joker and Quinn get together he becomes abusive and she now won’t leave his side because his abuse causes her to admire him more.

 I’m not sure that logic works for me. The situations may be similar but someone who has SS will sometimes continue to support their captor long after the possibility of further threat is removed. 

It belittles the horror Stockholm Syndrome. 

SS is a horrible thing. Some relationships can be just as horrible but by comparing Bell’s situation with SS completely dismisses the reality of it. Fairly decent examples of SS are Saw II and the Bushwacked episode of Firefly 

These people suffered terrible physical emotional trauma. Beast lost his cool and screamed at Bell maybe three or four times. Now, this is not cool, but not outside the realm of everyday interactions we all experience. I’m just saying. 

Perhaps we think that Bell is a delicate flower who can’t handle Tuesday at the office? Perhaps she’s never been screamed at before? Maybe Beast is just too scary? I doubt that was true based on how she acted towards him. Or did just forget the parts of the movie where Bell stood up and told Beast exactly what she thought of him? Victims of SS don’t do that.

It’s not about love.

While there are a few examples of people falling in love with captors or hostage takers. It’s not really the norm, most examples have SS victims changing their ideology showing signs of respect and admiring their abusers. Love as an emotion has little to do with it. 

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