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Now, let's look at the importance of psychological anchors and transference regarding the mutual fate bond. As you know, the experience of being a hostage does not end with the resolution of the situation. As with PTSD, many hostages relive the experience through daily psychological anxiety and sleepless nights. Studies ascertain how potential hostages might better cope with the experience of being in captivity.
The captive can anticipate and understand what his captors are doing and what is likely to follow. To the extent that this is possible and that the process is reinforced by the hostage having made accurate predictions, the level of uncertainty, disorientation, and anxiety is sharply reduced. It is also important for the individual to make some mental link to the outside world.
of the Mutual Fate Bond
The fact that the captive has been put by the captor in a situation where the captives life has become a commodity of exchange interestingly enough is ignored. It is no longer the captor, but the negotiators who are perceived to be standing in the way of survival and responsible for the prospect of death.
There is yet another reason why time is perceived to be on the side of the negotiators. As the situation progresses and the prospect of imminent death continues, all but suicidally-inclined captors desire some way out of the situation. Also, as time wears on, the police can rotate personnel. The hostage takers, unless well equipped, trained, and in significant numbers, will find that their capacity to act decisively and think clearly will erode with time.
However, the process of transference is not simply a function of time. It is also dependent on the nature of the interaction between hostage taker and hostage. All things being equal, the longer the period of time in which the interaction between hostage and captor takes place, the greater the degree of transference. However, if the interaction is hostile, transference will generally not take place.
Transference during Skyjacking
One of the skyjackers was described as abusive, arrogant, and threatening. He had a habit of continually touching the phony dynamite brought on board in such a fashion as to add to the passengers anxieties. As a result of these threatening actions, individuals who had substantial contact with him did not experience transference.
In direct contrast, the feelings of the passengers toward a female skyjacker, who was warm and outgoing while she played hostess to the passengers, were very positive. She was referred to by some of the passengers as the perfect hostess. Another one of the skyjackers was also warm and positive in his reactions to the passengers who had contact with him.
is the captain speaking. His voice is clean, no cracks. We have all
been through an incredible experience. But it is over for us. No one is hurt.
However, it is not over for our hijackers. Their ordeal is just beginning. They
have a cause. They are brave, committed people. Idealistic dedicated people. Like
the people who helped to shape our country. They are trying to do the same for
theirs. I think we should all give them a hand.
In debriefing passengers and crew, agents of the FBI noted that individuals who actively and consciously went out of their way to interact with the terrorists were most likely to experience transference.
4 Transference Variables
summary, it appears from case by case observations that a number of variables
enter into determining whether transference will take place:
Of course, one of the most publicized episodes of transference by a hostage to her captors is that demonstrated by newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, who not only took a lover from among her captors but also provided them with covering gunfire when they were about to be seized for shoplifting. Patricia Hearsts behavior was different only in degree from what is commonly observed in hostages under long-term stress. And if Patricia Hearsts responses were more extreme, it is also true that the conditions of her captivity, both in terms of the severity of deprivation and duration, were also extreme. These factors were probably exacerbated by her age and lack of experience.
Heres an ethical point for you to ponder, regarding these case studies of transference, if you have experienced a loss due to an act of terrorism: What do you feel you need to do if you treat clients who experience a positive transference towards a terrorist? Would you consider referring the client to another therapists?
QUESTION 8: What four variables enter into determining whether transference between hostage and captors will take place? To select and enter your answer go to Answer Booklet.