Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Patty Hearst Syndrome

Patty Hearst is the grand daughter of publishing magnet, William Randolph Hearst. He was one of the richest people in USA. He built the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. It is a palatial estate, which is known as America’s “Taj Mahal”.

Patty Hearst was a student at the University of California at Berkeley. On February 4, 1974, she was kidnapped from her apartment. The whole country was in shock. After a few days, a guerrilla organization called Symbionese Liberation Army took responsibility for the kidnapping.

At first SLA demanded that they swap Patty Hearst for their jailed SLA members. That negotiation failed. Then they demanded that Patty’s father, Randolph Hearst distribute seventy dollars worth of food for every needy Californian. This would cost a little over $400 million. Randolph Hearst made arrangements to distribute food throughout the entire San Francisco Bay Area, as a starter. SLA then reneged on their promise to release Patty Hearst. They said the distributed food was of poor quality.

Here comes the twist. Patty Hearst was hit with what is known as “Stockholm Syndrome”. It is a strange psychological occurrence where the hostages start to show slavish admiration of their captors and have positive feelings toward them. This happens even after the hostages are mentally, physically, and sexually abused by their captors. At the same time, they begin to hate people who genuinely like them.

She started to participate with the SLA on some bank robberies. She issued statements that she is committed to SLA’s goals. She changed her name to Tania. She was arrested in September 1975 along with other SLA members.

(Picture taken by Hibernia Bank's Security Camera)

Famous attorney, F. Lee Bailey defended her in court. He argued that the SLA brain washed her and was forced to participate in bank robberies. The judge found Patty guilty and sentenced her for 7 years in prison. President Jimmy Carter commuted the sentence after 22 months in prison. She was granted full pardon by President Bill Clinton.

Patty Hearst is now married and lives a quiet life with her husband and two daughters. After this episode, the “Stockholm Syndrome” is now being referred to as “Patty Hearst Syndrome”.

Prime candidates for Patty Hearst Syndrome are:

1. People who suffer from severe isolation.
2. People who get depressed a lot
3. People who have had emotional and physical abuse like a battered spouse, incest victim, abused child, prisoner of war, cult victim, kidnapped victim, or a hostage victim.

The earlier they realize (or people close to them realize) they have this syndrome the easier the treatment will be by a psychiatrist.


  1. thats interesting ... didnt know abt it...
    thanks for sharing :)

  2. so many disorders that affects the mind so badly...this ones really sad and scary.

  3. such a sad thing to happen to anybody...but good to know that she has a steady life now..

  4. Thanks for your comments MindfulMeanderer. Yes, it is very scary.

  5. Thanks for your comments Rajlakshmi. Looks like it is dangerous to be rich.

  6. Thanks for your comments Titaxy. Mental disorders are sad.

  7. Thanks for your comments Neha. After her release from prison, her dad appointed 24 hour bodyguards to protect her. She fell in love with one bodyguard and married him.

  8. Did you say Stockholm Syndrome?
    Sorry, never heard of it.

    Jaycee Lee Dugard

  9. Thanks for your comments Jaycee. Yes, you never heard of this syndrome. I believe you.

    You were kidnapped in June 1991 when you were only 11 years old. You were held in your kidnapper's home for 18 years. You were rescued by the police in August 2009.

    You never heard of this syndrome. But you lived happily with your kidnapper and his wife. You even bore 2 children to your kidnapper.

    The most unfortunate person is your stepfather. He really loved you. But he was the one suspected of killing you until you were rescued by the police.

  10. I have heard about Stockholm syndrome, but haven't heard about Patty Hearst.

    Thanks for sharing the news, SG.

  11. never heard about it..though something like this has been shown in bollywood, but then I thought of that as imagination..
    Thanks for sharing the info!!!

  12. This is the first time I am hearing of this syndrome. OMG its really scary. I am learning lot of things from your post.

  13. Thanks for your comments Sandhya. Stockholm Syndrome has been renamed as Patty Hearst Syndrome.

  14. Thanks for your comments Samvedna. In Indian movies, they take a simple idea and make it into a logic defying exaggeration mixed with music and comedy masala.

  15. Thanks for your comments Chitra. I feel very happy when you say you learn a few things from my blog. Thanks.

  16. Oh! I had read about this in a novel but the name wasn't mentioned(syndrome I mean). Was the movie Aakhree Raasta (Big B) on similar lines?! I know there was a tamil one too with Rajnikanth, forgot the name. Informative post as always:)

  17. It's an interesting bit of info, but really scared me...