Background. No study to date has investigated the effects of the trauma of being kidnapped for
ransom. In the present study, we aimed to assess the general health status and the presence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression (MDD) in a sample of kidnap victims. We
also focused attention on dissociative experiences and on the development of the Stockholm
syndrome during captivity.
Methods. We investigated the traumatic experiences and reported general health status of 24
kidnap victims using a semistructured interview. The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV was
used to assess the presence of PTSD and MDD. The Dissociative Experiences Scale was also
Results. The lifetime frequency of PTSD and MDD were 45·9% and 37·5% respectively. The
Stockholm syndrome had been present in 50% of the sample during captivity. The presence of
PTSD can be predicted by the number of violent experiences, whereas the number of humiliating
or deprivation experiences predicts the development of the Stockholm syndrome. Subjects with both
PTSD and the Stockholm syndrome reported a greater number of physical complaints at the
Conclusions. There is no significant connection between PTSD and the Stockholm syndrome. Both
are indices of the severity of the trauma of being kidnapped, but they are associated with different
aspects of the traumatic experience. The presence of both syndromes appears to have a detrimental
effect on physical health.