Looking through the eyes of a kidnapper

Looking through the eyes of a kidnapper

There might have been a case or we might have heard about an incident that would have shaken us, instilled some sense of fear in your parents or in you, without even being closely associated with that incident. Kidnapping is a threatening event that when it occur it not just shocks the person kidnapped, but their families and even people who listen about it. It makes us feel that our space of privacy might be at risk and coming in contact with a complete stranger with cruel intentions is another aspect that creates the constant panic and terror. Kidnapping as a crime in India has been growing and the numbers of cases that are reported everyday are increasing with a massive number and they will continue to. It gets important to know about what can lead to instigate someone who can go to an extent of ruining someone’s physical and mental privacy. Not just in India, but worldwide, there has been a spike in the numbers of kidnapping cases and history has given us the cases of some horrific abductions that holds the potential to occupy some areas of your mind for a period of time. How far a kidnapper will go to fulfill his cruel desires? Sometimes the answer of this question can go beyond comprehensions. What exactly does a kidnapper look like? How can they be differentiated? Shockingly most of them look like any other random person who we come across.

Long term abductions are rare in nature but they are highly impactful for the individuals involved and their family members and also many communities and regions. Let us look at a few cases that made to the headlines worldwide. Joseph Fritzel kidnapped Elizabeth Fritzel and she was held for 24 years; Elizabeth was his daughter. He constantly raped her that resulted in her giving birth to 7 children and one miscarriage. Phillip Garrido kidnapped Jaycee Lee Dugard and held her for 18 years; Jaycee was abducted when she was 11 years old and she gave birth to 2 girls and Philip was their father, not only this, Phillip’s wife was involved. Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight were held for 10 years by her abductor Ariel Castro and he kept these girls in his house. His neighbors reported that he was very social and friendly. Wolfgang Priklopil held Natascha Kampusch for 8 years. She was abducted when she was 10 years old and she escaped when she was 18. Colleen Stan was held for 7 years by Camerom Hooker.

Psychologists and criminal profilers struggle to understand the motives of these crimes and there are multiple differences that differentiate each and every kidnapper. It was noted that all these people have some kind of basic sexual need and fantasy that keep developing and it drives their behavior; with this, they also have some kind of a personality disorder. The deficits in the minds of these people make them think that everything in the world revolves around them and their needs. Psychologists link these psychopathic tendencies growing out of an abusive childhood but the motivations are complex in nature. Dr. Charles Heller, a forensic psychologist says that people who get such unhealthy childhood have a sense of powerlessness and as they get older they feel the need of having power and dominance and they try to compensate these feelings by trying to get power over children of others. Koatas A. Katsavdakis, a forensic psychologist says that there can be some biological predispositions to engage in such behaviors and their interaction with the environment can facilitate their acts. Most of the kidnappers don’t have guilt and feelings for other people but they make themselves believe that they have normal feelings. This can be a constant conflict that can act to frustrate them. Most of these people have personality disorder and these disorders are generally marked by people who cannot feel there emotions as well as the emotions of others, so they make decisions and not worry about hurting the emotions of other people. Some of the cases have seen a presence of moderate to severe symptoms of personality disorders such as anti social personality and narcissistic personality. In some cases they can be highly delusional. Most of the abductors have some sort of paraphilia and abnormal sexual impulse that are obsessive in nature. They can feel aroused by seeing one person in pain and suffering. Kidnappers sometimes make justification about why they did all that and their thoughts can highlight the wrong perceptions and understanding upon which they have been acting. Perversion is there in most of the cases but that is boosted by easily available pornography. There can be sexually deviant thoughts involving humiliation, pain, abuse, torture and power. In most cases the victims of these kidnappers are very young women and these aspects make the psychologists think that is pedophilia is also a factor. All these long term kidnappers create a false sense of relation and family with the victims and they also believe in some sense that the victims also wants to be there. They feel and derive positivity from wrong things. These long term abductions just don’t happen or they are not a result of some kind of impulsivity. Rather, the kidnappers plan and make arrangements so that their act can be carried out smoothly and the victims can be held for as long as they want. They make sure that their victims do not have any kind of connection with the outside world; they don’t even allow the rays of sun to touch their victims. They also have to follow a procedure and a plan in order to select their victims. All these aspects present an overview of the mind and their behaviors but there are other abduction that are not of long term and are driven by the motives such as anger, need for money, drug use and revenge.

These long term abductors have their ways of manipulating and brainwashing their victims regarding the situation and they try to make them believe that they are held for a reason, this is for their best and they are serving in a big cause. They use different mind control techniques like isolating them for a long period of time, exposing them with constant noise, leaving them in dark or threaten by saying that they would hurt their loved ones if they won’t listen. All they want to do is just to make them accept that now this is what their life will be like. Another aspect that comes under the relation between the victim and the abuser is the Stockholm syndrome which is a psychological phenomenon; American Psychological Association defines Stockholm syndrome is a mental and emotional response in which the captive, the hostage displays seeming loyalty to even affection for the captor. The term was coined in 1973, after a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. Some people were help in the bank robbery for some days and the situations were extreme. Despite of all this, eventually they became empathetic and sympathetic with the bank robbers. That sense of developing sympathy or empathy for the abductor is a part of what we call the Stockholm syndrome. There is a complicated relationship between the abductor and the victim. The victim starts to identify or develop some sort of feelings of connectedness with the abductor. It can result from the need to survive and also can be said to be adapting with the situation and the environment. It holds the potential of perceiving the entire situation. In few cases, it was observed the victim presents a very empathetic picture of the kidnapper in front of the police or in a court setting. Compliance can be misunderstood with Stockholm syndrome but most of the time it is present as a strategy to survive.

These are the things that can be thought provoking at the same time make us think about the extent to which one individual can go to fulfill their needs and desires. It also presents how people can have psychological disturbances at different levels. Not only the one who is inducing a traumatic experience has himself faced it in a different way, it will always lead to one thing that “Why”. It is not easy for the victim to return to the normal life and it has been observed in some cases that they needed a treatment for a long period of time, but when they come back, it’s strong and it’s like having a second birth.

About the Author

Fariyal Asad

Hi! I am a graduate psychology student. I've completed my graduation from Ambedkar University Delhi. I am a psychology en

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  • Woaahhh!!!! This is awesome 🙌👏

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