Social Question

LostInParadise's avatar

Is there such a thing as being overly resilient?

Asked by LostInParadise (27669points) 2 weeks ago

The more senior jellies will probably recall this story from the 70’s. Imagine that at age 19 you are kidnapped by a cult and tortured by them. You later help them commit crimes. At your trial, you claim to have been brainwashed. Despite having a topnotch lawyer, you are sentenced to prison. After 22 months, the president of the U.S. commutes your sentence.

This is a short summary of the early life of heiress Patty Hearst. I did a Web search to see what became of her. Was she traumatized? Did she suffer PTSD? Apparently not. She married a prison guard she met while locked up and has two children. She has had some movie acting roles, and her dog got a prize at the Westminster dog show.

Does any of this strike you as odd? While I am glad that things worked out for her, there is something not quite right about this story. How could the previous events in her life not have an extraordinary impact?

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11 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Therapy. Lots and lots of therapy. She can afford the best.

And, while you admire what she shows to the world, you don’t really know how her day today life is, late at noght when a TV movie comes on that might trigger something.

Jeruba's avatar

Memory test, all right. I remember that. Symbionese Liberation Army, right? I thought she married a guard who was one of the kidnappers—an instance of Stockholm Syndrome. Stephen Weed?

[Now looking it up]

. . .

Whoops, no, got that wrong. Stephen Weed was her fiance before she was abducted. She was kidnapped by the SLA and later participated in their crimes. And later, after she was released from prison, she did marry her bodyguard, a former police officer. (Not a prison guard.) A bizarre tale, at any rate; and because it happened right in this area, it dominated the local news for some time.

At any rate, like you I fail to see how she could have gone back to something like a normal life after such a series of traumatic events. But some people do seem to be able to put things away better than others.

SergeantQueen's avatar

Everyone experiences and deals with trauma differently. That fact, mixed with what @zenvelo said (therapy) is why she is “normal” now. Although just because she has moved on to another stage in her life doesn’t mean she still isn’t struggling. She got married and has kids which is awesome but who knows what things are like for her during sleepless nights.

Bad days are bad and most people try to hide that they go through them.

filmfann's avatar

My old pal Tanya? (I used to handle her calls from the prison)
She used to laugh at the operators handling her calls, because she knew we knew she was a celebrity.
Yes, when she made her collect calls to her boyfriend, she gave her name as Tanya.
I think the incident caused her to be a bit of a sociopath, in that normal empathy, sad, and joy feelings have been blocked.
She is a victim, and is emotionally injured.

LostInParadise's avatar

Isn’t is strange then that she went into acting, where it is essential to display emotions? Unless faking it was just a normal extension of her life.

LostInParadise's avatar

Interesting reviews of Patty Hearst’s book. Given that Amazon reviews tend to hype the books being reviewed, it is noteworthy that in two cases the reviewer found the book too tedious and repetitive to finish reading. Hearst has an insider’s view of the workings of a cult and instead reports on the drills that they put her through. Might this provide insight into her psyche?

stanleybmanly's avatar

The thing I find fascinating about Patty Hearst is in the lessons to be learned concerning the power and utility that can be derived through indoctrination. The other heavy lesson is in how ridiculously our lives are manipulated by random chance. At the time I was struck by the fact that her abduction by the SLA resulted in exactly the hoped for transformation resulting from conscription into the marine corps. Hearst however was rewarded for her conversion with a hefty prison sentence in contrast with the “thank you for your service” customary with matriculation in that other “branch”.

filmfann's avatar

@LostInParadise Have you seen her acting? It’s pretty wooden.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I was severely bullied in high school. I suffered from constant rivalry with my cousins. I was told by many people that I would never amount to anything. I didn’t have any real friend until college and most of the friends I had as I finally realize were manipulators who I just kept around because having anyone around was better than being alone. I had several self esteem issues. Yet if you look at me today you can’t know any of that. A lot of people including some kids I teach really think I used to be very popular in high school. Some of my friends rely on me for advice for their life problems like I always know what I’m doing. What they don’t see is the time when the painful memory resurfaces and I just sit in a corner feeling really sad.

I think some people are just really good at coping with their trauma, or at least hiding it from the public. Either they think it’s not necessary to show their trauma or they just don’t want to be defined by it. I don’t find that odd at all. In fact, I really admire people who rise to success despite their trauma. They may still have a chip on their shoulder, but they don’t let it eat them up.

As for acting, that doesn’t sound strange to me either. I’m working on a comic and planning some more, and if you read my current comic or hear about my planned ones, you will see bits and pieces of my emotion in there. Art is a popular emotional outlet for many people, particularly those with trauma, because it may not be appropriate to display emotion in public, but no one will complain when they see raw emotion in art. If she doesn’t adopt faking, acting is a great way for her to channel emotion that wouldn’t look pretty in real life.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Yes. When you are in pain. Hope extends suffering when you refuse to quit.

Pandora's avatar

We all get a different perspective as we age.Some people remain stuck with their trama and some people learn to let go of things that they feel were not in their control at the time. I think it really depends on the person. I knew a guy who grew up in an abusive home with severe alcoholism. He was a great father and didn’t touch liquor. He had siblings who were alcoholics and according to his wife horrible hateful people and so her husband cut ties with them all. She said they met in college and the thing that impressed her at the time was that he didn’t go to college parties and didn’t drink or never even tried drugs. He was determined to be the complete opposite of his parents. He was an adoring dad. The only minus she thought was that he was always the good guy with the kids and never wanted to punish them when they were being bratty.

He realized his pain was not his fault and learned to move on and away from it. In a way, you can say though that his trama still effected him well into adulthood. He just decided not to let it make him suffer but would he turned out that way if he had no trauma?

Its not that he’s faking who he is, but his mind decided this was the best way to go past it. Be the complete opposite of his parent and cut them out of his life. I believe the pain is still there but shoved aside. He’s terrified that even a little bit of liquor can set him back to become like his family. So clearly the effect of the trauma still exist. Just if you didn’t know his history, you would assume his life was different.

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