A hostage-taker named -ism

2 min read


Stockholm syndrome is a psychological reaction to captivity. People affected by this form a psychological bond with their captors and begin to sympathize with them. Now, can this be applied to ideas if the named syndrome refers to a social psychological relationship between at least two people? I think not, as we should be strict with definitions.

But exactly here lies the joke, because of course we know cases of fundamentalist attitudes, in which ideas, world views and political agendas appear as just the hostage taker, on which people become psychologically dependent. Anyone who has invested a lot of time or even money in a theory will find it psychologically difficult to get away from it again. The person becomes a disciple of an -ism, which is why these catch-all terms should always be treated with caution since they can easily take your mind captive.

Now to the meme: if we set the premise that the universe and we as a part of it are heading towards its thermodynamic end without any meaning associated with its existence (that can be experienced by humans), then we could subscribe to a cosmological nihilism and abstract this very same nihilism to our own existence. The absurdist also recognizes this, however, despite all this, he sees the necessity in it, to find a meaning.

This must not necessarily be of cosmic nature, but is bound to the individual situation and can theoretically also change constantly. It is therefore assumed that the human being is a being that demands meaning, otherwise this would perish.

In everyday life we can observe this well, because we do things for a reason and we give them additional meaning so that the tasks are easier for us. Especially in the case of wage work, the desire is pronounced to pursue some activity that has a positive impact on the overall nature of the world and/or human society.

Whether this content of meaning also exists in reality is secondary. We could say - speaking in a metaphor - that we find an apparent, purpose-oriented peace with the meaningless cosmos just as hostages sometimes do with their captors when the latter develop a Stockholm syndrome due to the circumstances in which they have to survive.

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