God’s Own Stockholm Syndrome

Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, an Indian born psychiatrist, now residing in the United States, published below article on Sathya Sai Baba and his following on June 10 2010. It was originally posted on Nirmukta, an Indian website promoting free thought, science and a secular state, and appeared just short of two years prior to the premature silence of His Master’s Voice due to his early demise, April 24 2011.

Dr. Kamath describes the deep-rooted psychological need a character like Sathya Sai Baba fulfills in the lives of many people who are afraid of the uncertainties the world has in store for them.
In essence, he depicts His Late Greatness Sathya Sai Baba as a fraud, a deceiver and a sexual predator, whereas many of his true believers remain locked in what he calls a state of shock, known as the Stockholm Syndrome, a state wherein you are basically kidnapped and, for sheer survival, you befriend your assailant(s), even love them.

The case he presents of Dr. Bhatia makes clear how resilient this preset mode of belief is; even having been sexually abused is made insignificant through a pantheistic view which is eerily akin to that of mrs. Jaani Drucker, the wife of longstanding Western VIP devotee Dr. Alvin Drucker.

All is God, and therefore all is well: even rape is, looked upon like that, done for a reason, and done for the best… So: better to forgive and forget then!

God’s Own Stockholm Syndrome

by Dr. Prabhakar Kamath
In previous articles, I discussed how Swamis and Babas cleverly recognized that the primary preoccupations of ordinary people were to fulfill their heart’s desires and to protect themselves from imaginary or real evils. They met these deep-rooted psychological needs by the deception of miracles, sleight of hand or even sheer gift of the gab. To fleece the deluded masses and profit from their weaknesses, they built massive temple-casino complexes.
Sathya Sai Baba's Grandiose Super Specialty Hospital at Whitefield
Sathya Sai Baba’s Grandiose Hospital at Whitefield
They invested a portion of their gains in building colleges, hospitals and other institutions, which gave people the impression that they were doing great socially beneficial services. The reality is that these institutions merely served the purpose of deluding people benefiting from them and silencing their critics.
Pomp and Circumstance in Puttaparthi: SS Hospital
In the process they fulfilled their own desires (sexual and financial) and took care of their own insecurity. Sai Baba and his Puttaparthi temple-casino complex is a classic example of this web of fraud bewildering people and profiting from their delusion.

Mind Control By Force And Intimidation

Here is a classic example of how Sai Baba controlled the mind and behavior of a highly educated doctor by the name of Naresh Bhatia as reported by Vishal Arora in Caravan magazine dated June 6th, 2010:
And I was to find a similar, dangerous, resilience of faith and disregard for doubt when I met devotee Dr. Naresh K. Bhatia, who in October 2000 had told the Daily Telegraph journalist Mick Brown over the phone that he had sexual relations with Sai Baba for a total of “15 or 16 years.” He was also aware that Sai Baba had relations with “many, many students from the college and school, and with devotees from overseas.” Also, The Findings, a dossier of testimonies of ex-devotees of Sai Baba on the Web, claims that Dr. Bhatia exposed “massive sexual exploitation by Sathya Sai Baba of students, including a report on the physically injurious anal rape of a minor, a boy student, with which he personally confronted Sathya Sai Baba.” This led to “his immediate sacking from his position as head of the Blood Bank at Sathya Sai Baba’s hospital in Puttaparthi and total banishment from the ashrams and all Sai Baba institutions.”
I read his account in the Daily Telegraph and on several Internet forums; I wanted to meet the now 59-year-old Dr. Bhatia. I went to see him in his house in Noida. The tall, fair man received me very gently and offered me a seat on a veranda next to his living room. There was a six-foot tall poster of Sai Baba on one of the walls. I wondered why he still had a picture of him.
I told him I wanted to know about his relationship with Sai Baba and whether or not the reports on the Internet were true. “What did you find in Puttaparthi?” he asked. I told him many of his former devotees wouldn’t make accusations against Sai Baba. I also complained that there seemed to be no real consequences for Sai Baba. “No action will be taken against him. Nothing will happen to him,” remarked Dr. Bhatia. “I will suggest that you do not write the article.” I thought it was his pessimism.
“But why do you think nothing will happen to him?” I asked. “He is God,” he replied. “Is what I have read on the Internet about you untrue?” I asked. “Everything is true,” he said, “but so what?” The bell rang and he went to the door and came back with his colleague. I thought it would be difficult to have a frank conversation now. But Dr. Bhatia carried on.
“What is evil, and what is good? Can you separate evil from good? They are two sides of the same coin,” he continued, looking at his friend for his approval, and he nodded. “It is the giving of one’s heart that is more important than giving one’s body. Jesus said if you look at a woman with lust, you have already committed adultery. This means your thoughts are more important than the acts done in body. So if you can give your heart to Sai Baba, what can you withhold? He is the creator.” For about an hour, he carried on with his confusing, contradictory, pantheistic argument.
Before I left he hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, said I was like a son to him and offered help in life. He also gave me a book he’d written, The Dreams and Realities: Face to face with God. The book details Bhatia’s own realization of Sai Baba’s divinity. It was signed by Sai Baba, “With Love and Blessings, Sri Sathya Sai,” and dated 5 June 1993.
'On your knees...'
The frail godman supported by two of his closest VIP-servitors

Stockholm Syndrome

The case of Dr. Bhatia strongly suggests that he suffers from Stockholm syndrome. Here is an excellent write-up on Stockholm syndrome from Ask Yahoo:
Stockholm Syndrome describes the behavior of kidnap victims who, over time, become sympathetic to their captors. The name derives from a 1973 hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. At the end of six days of captivity in a bank, several kidnap victims actually resisted rescue attempts, and afterwards refused to testify against their captors.
While some people are suggesting the recent Elizabeth Smart kidnapping sounds like a case of Stockholm syndrome, the most famous incident in the U.S. involved the kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst. Captured by a radical political group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, Ms. Hearst eventually became an accomplice of the group, taking on an assumed name and assisting them in several bank robberies. After her re-capture, she denounced the group and her involvement.
What causes Stockholm syndrome? Captives begin to identify with their captors initially as a defensive mechanism, out of fear of violence. Small acts of kindness by the captor are magnified, since finding perspective in a hostage situation is by definition impossible. Rescue attempts are also seen as a threat, since it is likely the captive would be injured during such attempts.
It’s important to note that these symptoms occur under tremendous emotional and often physical duress. The behavior is considered a common survival strategy for victims of interpersonal abuse, and has been observed in battered spouses, abused children, prisoners of war, and concentration camp survivors.

Stockholm Syndrome Is Common In Sexually Abused People

Men and women who were sexually abused for years by their fathers, stepfathers or priests, Swamis and Babas starting at an early age often suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. All of them suffer from serious emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety, and yet they often keep insisting that they still love their abusers. Not only that, they often resent anyone blaming their abusers for their emotional problems. Very often they claim that they had forgiven their abusers and they still love them. Here is a case study in my practice:
A forty-year-old white married woman, mother of two came to see me for depression of many years duration. During her eighteen-year-long marriage to a highly tolerant man, she had numerous extramarital affairs. She was chronically unhappy with her life and her illicit affairs were her way of finding the elusive happiness.
Detailed history revealed that starting around eight years of age, her father began to have sexual relationship with her. This continued even after she married her husband at age twenty-two. She simply could not say no to her father’s demands. Then suddenly, when she was thirty, her father suffered a massive heart attack and became brain-dead. He was kept alive in the Intensive Care Unit for several days. None of her siblings had the courage to pull the plug on him. It fell on the patient to give the doctors consent to terminate all life support and let him die.
The patient’s depression got worse after her father died, not only out of the guilt for pulling the plug on her father, but also because all buried memories of sexual abuse resurfaced and manifested as serious depressive symptoms. In the course of many counseling sessions, she just could not bring herself to condemning her father for years of sexual abuse. Even a faint hint of disrespect for her father in my voice made her resent me for it. She kept defending her father saying, “He meant no harm; that was his way of showing his love for me.” In fact, she confessed to me that during her sexual relationship with other men the only way she could get any pleasure was by thinking of her father.

Is There A Remedy For God‘s Own Stockholm Syndrome?

The vast majority of victims of Sai Baba, or any sex-obsessed Swami, are so deeply delusional that they do not believe they suffer from a serious psychiatric syndrome. Naturally, they do not seek treatment. The intensity of conflicting emotions (ecstasy of the intimacy and terror of retaliation) related to their “spiritual intercourse” with their object of worship seems to create a lasting pathological bond with it. Deep in their mind, they seem to relive the pleasure of their past contacts with that object, no matter how illicit, and at the same time, they are terrified of the consequences of condemning that object. They cope with their predicament by indulging in nonsensical explanations and stupid rationalizations such as the one displayed by Dr. Bhatia. His fear is justified by an incident a few years ago when four stupid sex abuse victims attempted to assassinate Sai Baba (read the above Caravan article here).
Dead men Tell no Tales
Dead men Tell no Tales
The police in cold blood promptly murdered the assassins. The whole matter was hushed-up by the directive from the highest level of the Government of India. The point is if someone from Sai Baba’s camp decides to kill an opponent of Sai Baba, there is not a damn thing anyone can do to stop him or punish him. Sai Baba is absolutely above the law.
Either the rulers of the great country of India, across the board, suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, or the great fraud of Puttaparthi, who controls them all with the wave of his little finger, must really be God.
Below is the first part of the excellent BBC and CBC produced documentary, ‘The Secret Swami’, which documents the sexual abuse and other alleged crimes of Sai Baba.
The remaining parts can can be accessed here: Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7.

Dr. Kamash makes an interesting point. Still, one could argue whether the devotees of Sai Baba, or any other totalitarian-like guru, can in all honesty be likened to the involuntary victims of crime. After all, most victims of crime never sought out their villain! In my opinion, the difference is one of gradation, though, not of either-or. Surely the boys, teens and young men who lived on campus and flocked to him from all over India and the globe who were sexually accosted by the master fall into this category. For further info on poor Dr. Bhatia’s story I gladly refer to Robert Priddy’s blog Dr. Naresh Bhatias Exposure of Sathya Sai Baba.

Many of the more ‘ordinary’ devotees, who did not suffer this horrific trial themselves, can be seen as sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome by proxy. Having invested so much if not everything they hold dear, they simply cannot face the brutal truth, for else they would have to admit to themselves they have lived a lie.

Maybe Stockholm Syndrome is a bit too strong a term for these staunch believers but I would certainly categorize them as suffering from a Delusional Syndrome. For sure, they may well be severely traumatized as well, by all the false promises and their own false beliefs, more often than not having sacrificed years of their lives to what they thought to be God’s work, and helping the less advantaged. And then there is the vast mass of poor souls, the downtrodden ‘just’ seeking solace…

There seems to be no end to the power of self-delusion, and to the inherent suffering, or is there?

Final thought for the day
Did the master himself, His Late Greatness, in the end not also become a victim of his own monstrosity, hurled off against his will into his own hospital like a crying baby by the very people he ‘created’ in his own image, and thereby, however reluctantly, deserving of the title: God’s Own Stockholm Syndrome? Irony of ironies! From all the stories that surround his dying days, one could glean that he was ultimately devoured by some of the monsters he himself helped create.