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Cinema’s Toxic Obsession with Stockholm Syndrome

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Cinema plays an important role in shaping the minds of people. Although it aims at covering every rare and extraordinary story, which includes some toxic concepts, it simultaneously provides the general public with unusual characters to look up to.

One of the many aspirations of Cinema is analysing the creation of psychological ties between movie characters. It is worth noticing that this is not only the objective of practical and psychological movies, but also any movie that honestly wants to demonstrate interpersonal relationships, to explain often controversial choices, and to bring various different types of relationships to the audience – even the less obvious and impenetrable ones.

The most interesting and also very controversial, one that provokes lots of conflicted emotions, is relation called Stockholm syndrome. 

Stockholm syndrome, also known as ‘capture bonding”, is a condition which causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their capturer during captivity. It is considered as a “contested illness” due to doubt about the legitimacy of the situation. When one is taken hostage by an abductor, over the course of time after trying to fight back and be rebellious, eventually the captive, forms a fondness towards the abductor. This takes place unknowingly and is all part of a psychological manifestation. When the captive doesn’t have a prospect of any other human contact and as a means of survival, he or she falls prey to the Stockholm Syndrome. This impression is so powerful, that even when the captive is set free, they prefer their alliance with the abductor, completely disregarding the suffering.

The idea may sound charming and alluring but is, in fact, toxic and unhealthy. The two people falling victim to this phenomenon don’t know that their fondness is forced and purposeful, and not out of love. They will always stand to be distinct from each other in a harmful way, with discomforting past. Not comprehending the fact that this “admiration” is nothing but a mechanism of survival.

Cinemas these days have romanticised this idea of “affection towards your abductor”. The notion of exhibiting such relationships with happy endings on Cinema is abominable. The juncture of “just for entertainment” doesn’t make it acceptable.

Movies like Highway, in which Meera, a rich beautiful girl was abducted by Mahabir, an arrogant village man. Both of them eventually fell in love and found solace with each other. Meera was a naive girl who found freedom with Mahabir. Being restricted to living like an ideal child all her life, she started to grow fond of her life as a captive, which ironically gave her more liberation. Whereas Mahabir, a seemingly tough guy, falls for Meera’s childlike and gullible nature, as she acts as a catalyst of change for him. Despite being from two different worlds, they fall for each other as a result of being in the presence of each other for so long and helping each other discover themselves. An intense case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Another highly prominent movie with a similar concept is actually a Disney movie, forming young minds. Beauty and the beast. The movie comprises of princess Belle, being held captive by the beast, who mistreats her, forbids her from seeing her father and expects her to get adjusted to this life. Belle fights back in the beginning but eventually, she develops sympathy towards the beast-like king, and they both fall in love eventually. Completely disregarding the past in which, they both tried making each other’s life miserable. Yet another case that low key focuses on Stockholm Syndrome.

Majority of Indian youth is not like us, who sits, discusses and comprehends the basic things like Cinema. Majority of Indian Youth is struggling for education and finds inspiration and illogical respite in cinema. Perception and introspection come into place here. Ours is a third world country where people worship stars, and there is a healthy percentage who cannot differentiate or rather, do not differentiate between real and reel. The portrayal of such romances not only encourages unhealthy behaviour but it promotes a mentality that makes ill-treated relationships plausible proclaiming that they represent true love.

Feature Image Credits:  Variety 

Avni Dhawan 

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