The Portraiture of Stockholm Syndrome: Cultural Dislocation in Phillis Wheatley's Poetry Collection and Selected African American Texts


  • Emmanuel Adeniyi Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria



Stockholm Syndrome, African American literature, Phillis Wheatley, Transatlantic slavery, Ego-Defence Mechanism


One of the tropes that have often been glossed over in African American literature is the concept of Stockholm Syndrome. The syndrome emphasises irrationality and abnormal psychological or mental disposition of Stockholm Syndrome sufferers towards individuals responsible for their pitiable conditions. This article examines the conception and its nexus with slavery and the use of religion (Christianity) as an ideological tool for the indoctrination or brainwashing of African slaves and their descendants in the United States of America. I argue that the syndrome, though conceived as a correlate of Freudian ego-defence mechanism, operates like a psychedelic or hallucinogenic drug which, according to Karl Marx, dulls the reasoning capacity and cerebration of the sufferers and prevents them from thinking rationally. Besides, it alters their perception of reality forcing them to accept abnormality as normality in a bid to create an escapist route for their fears, hurt feelings and pent-up wounds.

Author Biography

Emmanuel Adeniyi, Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria

Emmanuel Adeniyi teaches African Oral Literature, Creative Writing, Literary Theory and Criticism in Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria. He is a seasoned journalist and a fellow of the Institute of World Journalism Institute (WJI), USA. His research interest covers diaspora/migration studies, literary theory and criticism, eco-criticism, oral literature, African literature, transcultural studies, stylistics, among others.


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How to Cite

Adeniyi, E. (2018). The Portraiture of Stockholm Syndrome: Cultural Dislocation in Phillis Wheatley’s Poetry Collection and Selected African American Texts. English Studies at NBU, 4(1), 41–60.