... the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB)
A ten-year-old Austrian child was abducted in March 1998. Although her family members say they never lost hope, most people gave her up for dead.
Now we know that she was kidnapped by Wolfgang Priklopil. He took little Natascha Kampusch to a suburban house in Vienna where he had built a tiny, windowless basement cell for her. He kept her in that dismal place for over eight years. She was his prisoner for whatever evils he chose to inflict on her.
Her dungeon jail had a bed, toilet, and sink. There were a few books. And Priklopil occasionally let her out of confinement to walk around with him in public places. Although Natascha has said little for public consumption, she has told authorities that he sometimes treated her well and at other times very badly. Newspapers say she weighs the same 92 pounds she did when she disappeared.
Natascha recently escaped from her captor as an 18-year-old woman. With Priklopil distracted by a call on his cell phone while she was above ground, she ran away. She is being kept in a secure place now, and psychologists are trying to negotiate her integration back into her family, the larger community, and life.
Most amazing to many who have heard bits and pieces of this story has been her reaction to what happened to her. "[Priklopil] was a part of my life," she said. "That's why I also mourn for him in a certain way." That was her comment upon learning her abuser had killed himself after she escaped his clutches.
Mental health experts are reacting to all of this by commenting on Stockholm Syndrome, where victims cope with captivity and trauma by identifying with their captors and abusers. We will likely hear a much different account from Natascha as she gets healthy. Feels safe. Realizes her tormentor can't hurt her anymore.
Her strange, sad story makes me think of all the things we humans who live in a world turned upside-down by evil have learned to call "normal" and tolerate as "customary." From the abuse of children to the sacrifice of personal virtue to an obsession with money and power to murder in the name of God, we seem to have identified with our Enemy. We simply accept evil as inevitable.
I predict Natascha Kampusch will get healthier over time and change her view of what she now sees as normal. I hope we can all get healthier in time.