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The Stockholm Syndrome

Christians can be in the world and not of it by not taking the world into their hearts.

For 21 years, elder Ted Childress was a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, specially trained as a hostage negotiator. He's lectured on this topic to the members of the Bureau and to other groups as well. I've asked him to give the introduction to my message on the Stockholm Syndrome.

Illustration: "The Stockholm Syndrome first occurred in 1973 at an attempted bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. A man tried to rob a bank, and the police caught him. He took three female hostages and one male hostage and held them for 131 hours. During this time he terrorized them, firing his Russian automatic assault weapon at them and threatening to kill them. He put nooses around their necks and threatened to hang them, but when it was all over, he hadn't harmed any of them. When he finally surrendered, something unusual happened. We expected the hostages to be antagonistic toward the hostage taker. Instead, they said they feared the police more than the hostage taker. They also said they didn't hate the hostage taker. They refused to testify against him. One of the ladies actually became engaged to him.

"The FBI has analyzed thousands of hostage situations since that time. We found this happens frequently. So we asked psychologists, 'What happened? What causes this?'

"They said in hostage situations, with a high level of life‑threatening stress and positive human interaction, people's ego‑defensive mechanisms come into play. They deny what is happening and regress to a different emotional state. The hostage will eventually begin to transfer his hatred—This guy doesn't really want to hurt me—and begins to hate the policemen. Something else begins to happen; a love relationship forms. ...

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Sermon Outline:


I. The first question to ask in loving not the world is: Who are our enemies today?

II. The second question to ask is: Why do Christians succumb to worldliness?

III. The third question to ask is: How are Christians deceived and enslaved?

IV. The fourth question to ask is: How can we be liberated from our captivity?