How an American Heiress Became the Poster Child for Stockholm Syndrome

Random Musings


Less than three months after she was kidnapped at gunpoint, the tables had turned: Patty Hearst, the young heiress to the Hearst media empire, was holding the gun — and helping her captors rob a bank. When a now-iconic photo of Hearst armed with a machine gun made the cover of TIME (at right) and Newsweek in April 1974, it captivated the nation as her story blurred the line between victim and accomplice.

Where Hearst had once engendered sympathy, she now became suspect. One homeowner took down the sign in his front yard reading, “God Bless You, Patty,” per The Atlantic. Others felt similarly torn. Hearst had already publicly renounced her family and friends, declaring her allegiance to the ragtag revolutionary group—the Symbionese Liberation Army—that had abducted her. Law enforcement officials weren’t sure whether to approach her as someone in need of rescue or arrest. As TIME put…

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