41 of 100 DOCUMENTS

	The Boston Herald

	March 23, 2003 Sunday ALL EDITIONS

	OP-ED; AS YOU WERE SAYING . . . Smart's odd behavior was act of normal teen in bad situation

	BYLINE: By Jack Levin


	LENGTH: 602 words

	People are asking the inevitable question about Elizabeth Smart's
	abduction: Why in the world did the 15-year-old girl from Salt
	Lake City not attempt to flee her kidnappers when she had the
	opportunity to do so? What made her use biblical language and give
	a false name - Augustine Marshall - to the police who finally
	rescued her from her abductors? Is it possible that she went along
	voluntarily? In my view, such questions only lead us to blame the

	Anything is possible, of course. And every year, some 100,000
	missing youngsters turn out to be runaways. But Smart obviously
	left her home under duress. She was taken at knife point, snatched
	away in the middle of the night from her own bed by Brian David
	Mitchell, a drifter whose appearance would have been as comforting
	as that of Freddie Krueger from the slasher films.

	After months of living with her captors - the self-styled prophet
	and his wife - in a tent and being forcibly isolated from any
	other influences, Smart apparently began to identify with her
	abductors. The reality of their total control over her life was
	gradually transformed into an illusion of control that almost any
	healthy and decent 14-year-old girl would have come to accept.

	At first, she probably complied out of fear in order to survive.
	But it appears that she eventually succumbed psychologically.
	Teenagers are notoriously malleable and easy to manipulate. They
	make excellent subjects for stage hypnotists; they are often
	attracted by the recruiting efforts of dangerous and bizarre
	cults. In a sense, Elizabeth Smart was the perfect victim.
	Decades ago, 19-year-old Patti Hearst was vilified after being
	abducted by members of the Symbionese Liberation Front who kept
	her in a closet for long periods of time and made her completely
	dependent on them. She was certainly tortured and perhaps sexually
	assaulted. Yet, after collaborating with her kidnappers to rob a
	bank, Hearst served almost two years behind bars. Not only was she
	found guilty in a court of law, but she also looked guilty in the
	court of public opinion.

	The point is that the average person saw Patti Hearst more as a
	villain than a victim. If only they could have understood her as a
	prisoner of war, she might have gotten more sympathy.

	Actually, studies of prisoners of war who collaborated with the
	enemy suggest that mind control can be achieved by exerting
	absolute power and control over a prisoner's day-to-day
	experiences, establishing a bond between the prisoner and his
	captors, and showing the inmate that his only road to salvation is
	to comply with the enemy's demands.

	Cultists have employed the same psychological methods of torture
	in persuading their members to commit mass murder or suicide,
	kidnap children, or amass an arsenal of weapons of destruction.
	The Order of the Solar Temple, the Branch Davidians, Jonestown and
	Heaven's Gate come immediately to mind.

	Call the influence of Elizabeth Smart's captors what you want -
	the Stockholm Syndrome, brainwashing, mind control, or thought
	reform. It all adds up to the same thing: Abnormal situations can
	make a normal person do crazy things!
	Jack Levin is director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and
	Conflict at Northeastern University. As You Were Saying is a
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	LOAD-DATE: March 23, 2003


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