Objective: ‘Stockholm syndrome’ is a term used to describe the positive bond some kidnap victims develop with their captor. High-profile cases are reported by the media although the diagnosis is not described in any international classification system. Here we review the evidence base on ‘Stockholm syndrome’.
Method: Databases (PubMED, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL) were systematically searched. We compared features of cases widely reported in the English language media to identify common themes which may form a recognizable syndrome.
Results: We identified 12 papers that met inclusion criteria. The existing literature consists mostly of case reports; furthermore there is ambiguity in the use of the term. No validated diagnostic criteria have been described. Four common features were found between the five cases studied.
Conclusion: There is little published academic research on ‘Stockholm syndrome’ although study of media reports reveals similarities between well publicized cases. This may be due to reporting and publication bias.