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Stockholm Syndrome

By Lynda Beigel, Retiree
Branch #214, San Francisco

Identifying with the oppressor

What is the Stockholm syndrome? The phrase comes from a botched bank robbery in Sweden in which employees were held captive for an extended time, and some almost fell in love with their captors. It occurs when the oppressed identifies with the oppressor, assuming (incorrectly) the torture, physical or mental, will stop. Torturers only stop when they win, and the tortured becomes less than human, and are psychologically ruined for life.

At the post office no one wants to go home from work feeling beaten down. No one wants to wake up every morning hating the thought of going to work. No one wants to feel demeaned, depressed, defeated. No one should have to! This is a war for human decency! There is no way to win except by standing up to intimidators. Martyrs? No, we win simply by being letter carriers willing to stand up for ourselves and each other against torture.

Torture in the post office

What is torture? When a supervisor screams, he/she fails to treat the person with the respect as required by M-39, 115.4. When a supervisor refuses to allow a carrier to see a requested steward for an immediate 5 minutes, that is unacceptable behavior. When a supervisor takes someone into the office without that person requesting and getting a steward to accompany and defend him/her, that becomes a violation of the carrier's rights. When a supervisor makes fun of someone or talks about someone's performance, that is grievable. These behaviors must not be condoned, they must be grieved.

These supervisors are not our jailers. They are merely people who are getting paid to follow the contract and get the mail delivered according to the rules. It is not our responsibility to make them look good! It is their responsibility to use civilized behavior, not that of a torturer. Unfortunately, their bosses do not care how the favorable statistics are achieved! The higher level bosses will defend management's torture techniques in any way possible.

That is why it is our responsibility to stand up for the dignity of everyone we work with and to refuse to believe the lies of managers who promise special favors or threaten discipline.


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