Stockholm Syndrome in Athletics: A Paradox

Charles Bachand, Nikki Djak
  • Children Australia, June 2018, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/cha.2018.31

Stockholm Syndrome in Athletics

What is it about?

While it may, at first, appear absurd to associate Stockholm syndrome with situations other than those involving kidnapping or hostage relationships, it is quite tenable to do so. In fact, research has shown that a variety of different psychological issues and forms of captivity are best explained as instances of Stockholm syndrome. Originally, Stockholm syndrome was typified as a disorder resulting from situations involving negative face-to-face contact between captors and captives. The resulting environment is one of extreme fright or terror to victims, rendering them helpless and, over time, totally subservient to their perpetrators. Typification helps to shed light on the connection between abusive athletic coaches and consequential victimization of young athletes, which can lead to Stockholm syndrome. This correlation supports the view that Stockholm syndrome relates to victimization of young athletes in a paradoxical, but very real way. This concept paper addresses the potential for domain expansion of Stockholm syndrome into the area of youth athletics. It develops the theory that once youth begin to rationalize the actions of abusive athletic coaches, they begin to sympathize and defend the actions of the abusive coach leading to a pattern of events which can be labelled as indications of Stockholm syndrome.

Why is it important?

The ability to look for answers outside of the normal discussion area is how society has progressed. This paper asks for the domain expansion of Stockholm Syndrome into the discussion around the coaching profession. Athletes are one of the most vulnerable populations with such a large gap of power structure between the coach and athlete that it is important to look at all potential issues.


Charles Bachand (Author)

The internal belief that in my lifetime, this could be the most important publication I am ever involved in. This publication has proved that the internal battle that those (including myself) battle on a daily basis will continue throughout our lifetimes. I believe that it is our duty, as human beings, to make sure we look at every possible factor that can cause harm to others.

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