Psychologist: Kidnapped Cleveland women will need extensive psychological therapy

11:37 PM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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Gina DeJesus (left) and Amanda Berry



TAMPA, Florida -- The pictures of the suspacts are disturbing enough. People can only imagine what happened inside the house of horrors where three women were held captive, and the psychological toll it took.

"Depression, anger, heightened anxiety," said psychologist Dr. Brian Dragstedt.

Dr. Dragstedt states the obvious effects on the victims, but it's only natural to further wonder. "What happened? What allowed these women to survive and cope with it?" he asked.

Other questions include why they didn't fight back or try to escape. The answer could lie in something called Stockholm Syndrome.

"It's an emotional transference, meaning that they identify with the aggressor, they may even develop empathy or warm feelings for them, try to explain away their behavior, maybe even take responsibility for their own captivity," said Dragstedt.

Dr. Dragstedt cannot say if this was the case, but does think the birth of a child may have played a very important roll in the women's psychological submission.

"The additional instinct of being a mother, of having a child to protect in that situation, probably served as a strong motivator to these women to comply, even moreso than they may have otherwise," said Dragstedt.

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