I am hazy on some of the details. But I distinctly remember that after she was kidnapped–dragged out of her fiance’s apartment in the middle of the ngiht–Patty Hearst was blindfolded, gagged, with her wrists and ankles bound, and locked in a closet for several weeks. She was taken out long enough to be allowed to use the toilet, but not always in time. The circumstances under which she was kidnapped were sufficiently confusing that she believed her fiance had been killed during the raid. She was raped. She was “interrogated,” and threatened with death and told constantly that she was a worthless piece of rich-girl s**t. She was pressured daily to record messages to the public and her family supporting the cock-eyed revolutionary message of the Symbionese Libertaion Army.
Ms. Hearst was not, at the time she was kidnapped, a member of a military group with a tradition of resisting captivity and esprit de corps. She was not confined with other prisoners who could have helped her keep up her spirits and her will to resist. She had no preparation, formal or informal, that would have helped her understand and cope with what was happening. As a strategy to survive under the intolerable conditions in which she found herself, she began to pretend that she agreed with her captors and attempted to placate them so they would let her stay outside the closet. Eventually she got good enough at this act to be allowed minor liberties. The more she cooperated, the less she was brutalized, demeaned, and threatened.
She testified at her trial that although she did “participate” in the bank robberies where she was shown on bank cameras, she was never allowed to handle a loaded weapon, and would have been shot by the REAL members of the SLA if she had tried to escape.
There is an excellent book called Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman Lewis that discusses the problems faced by these victims when they attempt to tell their stories afterward. You could also read Unspaakable Truths and Happy Endings by Rebecca Coffey. Both of these books make the point that the stories of survivors of torture are so horrible, so frightening, so disgusting, that many listeners prefer to say “They’re making it up.” Because otherwise it might be TRUE that human beings can be degraded and abused by other human beings until they become compliant with evil. Maybe even you. It could happen to you.
Speaking on a personal basis, the first time I had to take detailed testimony from a survivor of torture (in a North African prison), I went into a clinical depression that lasted for two months. Took drugs and psychotherapy to work through it. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, worse than sitting with a friend dying of cancer, worse than burying someone you love.
So Barbitu8, forgive me for saying this, but maybe you should look into your own heart, and find out what YOU’RE afraid of. It’s incredibly easy to say “I would never…” But when they’re applying a fully heated steam iron to your calf, it’s not quite so academic.