Over the past year or so, i've been introduced to the term, Stockholm syndrome.
Defined by wikipedia as " a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness."
And defined by dictionary.com as:
"an emotional attachment to a captor formed by a hostage as a result of continuous stress, dependence, and a need to cooperate for survival."
In the context of real situations of kidnapping and traumatic events, this term is not something I can relate to, as I've never been kidnapped.
But the second time I heard the term, it was associated with the familiar story of The Beauty and the Beast, made popular by the Disney movie, you know the story. And it got me thinking...
What if it really wasn't so much that she falls in love with her captor, but was enamored to the idea of being protected, adored, coddled, treated to any easy life in a beautiful castle, exciting trips, time to pursue her interests, (Belle loved to read!) ...perhaps this is all a girl can ask for? is it? I mean, as long as she can set some physical boundaries in the relationship, keeping it platonic, isn't that enough?
What if the beastly appearance was just a metaphor for that immediate, gut reaction or repulsion she had for him, though she couldn't explain why? And what if the "miraculous" conversion of the beast to a prince was really just her mind reasoning with her, saying, "ok, look, you are being admired, adored, well-taken care of, maybe this isn't a beast after all?" even though her gut still feels that repulsion when he comes near. Is her mind strong enough to let her continue believing he's a prince and not a beast?
And suppose Belle is already 34 years old, her high school and college friends have long beat her in getting married and starting a family. The fact that she doesn't really LOVE the beast doesn't hold much weight against the prospect of going unwed and childless into the rest of her life. She might as well just settle...why not, live this easy life in luxury and possibly even have kids that have a 50% resemblance to her own loveliness.
And...suppose Belle already had a victim mentality, so it wasn't so much that the Beast coerced her into becoming his prisoner, but she had a hard time saying NO to people because she felt so weak and powerless. And wasn't a life as a prisoner in a fancy castle far better than living in poverty with an aging father and a bunch of mean, selfish sisters who probably contributed to her victim mentality and powerlessness?
And by the time she realizes all of this, Belle has become so accustomed to living her easy life and having people see their picture-perfect exterior and saying "oh what a lovely couple", etc, further enhancing the Barbie & Ken/Disney image, that she just shuts her mouth, assumes her fate is sealed, and she's locked in. Frozen. (Frozen? hmmm...another movie perhaps?)
There needs to be a sequel, a Belle II movie, where she re-discovers herself, becomes strong enough to realize she doesn't need to live in a prison, just for protection and an easy life, especially not with a beast whom she doesn't truly love. Where she discovers the true Beauty inside of her, that doesn't require a prince for authentication, certification of her worthiness. Just someone she loves with all her heart, someone whom she can call her equal, her true sweetheart, a perfect partner, match, soul mate...
Is that possible?
Nahh, that's just fairytale junk.