Brain & Mind Uncategorized

Stockholm Syndrome and Crime detection

#CrimeDetection, #Police, #StockholmSyndrome, #IndianPolice, #CustodialTorture

I am listening to a young innocent kid telling me about his days spent in police interrogation room. Though disturbing to hear from the horse’s mouth, there was nothing really new in it as it was just another tale of the millions that get enacted in pursuit of justice in police custody.

Though we pretend to hide it, every Indian knows that the word “justice” actually means justice for the elites, so poor kid was completely objective and non-critical of what fate has brought to him.

As I have enough pragmatism acquired from living in India, I too didn’t resort to knee-jerk reaction of disgust or anger that our police gets subjected to by most of us while they serve us. I am honest enough to admit that the revulsion felt by most of us is not emerging from empathy but from the fear of being subjected to similar treatment.

So, as a man of science, I rather avoid the high moral ground and attempt exploring a simple question that, I am not sure, is asked too often.

Is pain and fear capable to force a brain to divulge truth?

As pain and fear are massive handles to human brain, there is no real doubt that there is some merit in this time-tested method. So, there is bound to be a brain-process aiding confession of the crime by someone subjected to torture.

One distinct possibility is engagement of the strange brain mechanism that gets evoked in Stockholm syndrome. As the torturer will appear to have control of the survival of the tortured, it is entirely possible for brain subjected to pain to accept the torturer as a saviour and switch on an ancient survival protocol we all have.

Though sound strange to us who are not subjected to such a situation, this phenomenon is recorded to be extremely common. The famous Stockholm incident which gave it its name showed hostage women to actually exhibit love for their captors and even fight to save them.

In fact, there is a possibility that all human interactions are driven by it, as it is logical that we respond to others on the bases of their importance to our survival. That is why it is very often observed that a wife getting beaten black and blue by abusive drunkard husband ends up standing by him, or people can be found hanging on to extremely abusive relationships.

As human brain is non-judgemental about quality of life when it comes to survival of self, humanity has been able to have the strangest institution of slavery operated successfully across our history.

This is because when the brain is under acute survival threat, it displays an amazing ability to link itself to who it deduces to be in control of its survival and accept complete enslavement. So, the simple trick is to put the brain in a position where the captor can be perceived as controlling the survival, and you can ensure behaviour that sounds impossible from outside.

So, it is entirely likely for a brain in police custody and having suffered excruciating pain to succumb to Stockholm syndrome of highest order.

It appears that torture could be a great way to get past brain’s lying frontal cortex, and access the truth by engaging old brain’s survival mechanisms. The popular good-cop-bad-cop concept is just a form of the same phenomenon to link the brain of the captive to an agent in control of its survival.

Hence, there appears to be a scientific explanation justifying torture, but there is a catch that is missed here.

It is important to note that in this process of brain enslavement, it is the man in control that decides what is the truth for enslaved brain. So, in simple terms, whatever is the preferred version of truth by the captor becomes the truth for captive.

If we return to real world, this translates into torture not delivering the absolute truth, but the version the policeman in control wants it to be.

And this is where this system needs a questioning, especially today.

Lately, in our country crime detections are often turning into media trials with hashtags demanding verdicts. Police is put under tremendous pressure by media-driven campaigns to deliver instant crime detection. This is likely to result into aggressive crime detection through torture when the suspects are from the poor class.

While there is also an emerging (frankly pretentious) demand for human rights conflicting with the demand of crime detection, the only practical option for police is to increase use of technology.

At this point, technology-penetration is increasing, but without augmenting skill-sets and technology-competence of policemen, the reduction of use of torture is unlikely to go down.

We need to aid police technologically and train them on modern crime defection techniques.

The by-product of this process will be increased human right appropriateness. In addition, with innocents not subjected to unjust torture, there is bound to be a reduction in reactionary criminalisation.

The strange truth is, we humans are unlikely to be humane without help of technology.

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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