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Lima syndrome: kidnappings turned into a delirium

Lima syndrome: kidnappings turned into a delirium

March 30, 2024

Many times, human beings can get to exhibit behaviors that are difficult to understand.

Undoubtedly, one of the strange phenomena is part of what is known as the Lima syndrome, a condition that affects some kidnappers who develop sympathy and positive feelings towards their victims.

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Characteristics of this strange syndrome

The Lima syndrome is one of those incomprehensible phenomena that could quietly be part of a cinematographic history. This syndrome is a psychological state that affects a kidnapper, who may have positive and even romantic feelings towards the person to whom he deprives of his freedom . It can be manifested in different ways, for example, avoiding harm, giving him certain freedoms during his captivity and even worrying about his health and well-being.


However, first of all, it is necessary to emphasize that a syndrome is not necessarily a disorder, but is characterized by the presence of a series of symptoms encompassed under a label. The syndrome of Lima it is not by far a psychopathology , but it can draw attention when it manifests.

In fact, there are few data on this, and little research has been done on this phenomenon, largely due to the complexity of measuring and analyzing it. Logically, it is almost impossible to have a large sample of kidnappers who experience this syndrome in order to evaluate them. The syndrome of Lima occurs little , and if it happens it is because there are a series of conditions that favor its development.


Because it happens?

Surely you have already asked yourself: "What reasons can make a kidnapper suffer from Lima syndrome?". To understand this phenomenon it is necessary to understand the life of the kidnapper and what happens to him in the mind at the time of the kidnapping. It is possible that the cases in which this condition has manifested, the kidnapper did not intend to hurt the captive .

The kidnapper, for example, may have committed an act of kidnapping because he is going through financial difficulties. Another option is that you develop the Lima syndrome because you are not happy with the kidnapping. That is to say, he is part of a group of kidnappers who have influenced his decision by the phenomenon of group pressure, although he is not entirely comfortable and does not want to treat the detainee badly. It could also happen that the abductor feels physically attracted to the victim.


How is the Lima syndrome manifested?

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the kidnapper treats the victim positively and cares that their stay in captivity is as unpleasant as possible. Many times acts as if it were not limiting the freedom of the other person , which makes the situation seem to be part of a delirium.

Some of the behaviors carried out by the kidnappers to make the victim's stay more pleasant are, for example, to bring well-prepared and nutritious food to the hostages' room or to be kidnapped, to heal their wounds and, in general, to be very attentive. to their needs and even carry out behaviors that would have nothing to do with a kidnapping. The kidnapper develops attachment to the victim and cares about their well-being .

What is the origin of the term

The term syndrome of Lima was coined this way by a pair of events happened in the Peruvian city of Lima. The first of them took place when, in this city, the Embassy of Japan was occupied in 1996 by members of a terrorist group called the Revolutionary Movement Tupac Amaru (MRTA). Hundreds of people were held in the building. Within a few days, the hostages were freed one by one out of sympathy, even those considered very valuable.

There is another version of the origin of this syndrome. It turns out that a Lima psychiatrist was kidnapped by an individual . The astute psychiatrist, knowledgeable Stockholm syndrome, applied his knowledge in psychology to make the kidnapper feel sorry for him and treat him well.

What is the Stockholm syndrome?

The Stockholm syndrome is a phenomenon similar to the Lima syndrome, but it happens in reverse. That is to say, it is not the kidnapper who feels sympathy and attachment towards the kidnapped, but it is the latter who feels it towards his captor. According to the psychiatrist's own version, his knowledge about the human mind allowed him to develop the empathy of his captor so that he would finally release him.

The Stockholm syndrome has been widely studied.An investigation by the FBI, which analyzed data on 4,700 victims of kidnappings, found that in 27% of cases this syndrome develops . It seems that there are three determining factors when developing it:

  • The duration of the kidnapping : more likely to suffer from it after longer captivity.
  • Direct contact : The kidnappers have direct contact with the kidnapped. They do not isolate them.
  • Friendly treatment : The kidnappers do not hurt the hostages.

According to the psychologist Pascual García Senderos: "What is surprising is that the individual who has been kidnapped and deprived of his freedom takes the side of the kidnapper and not the rescuers. It seems incredible how a person who is a victim of a kidnapping can develop attachment towards the person who has held him back, but the truth is that, surely, the kidnapped person is grateful for having treated him well and not having killed him. "

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