The night has passed and the hostages begin to awake in a state of confusion. It is clear that the terrorists are unsure of what their next move is and later that morning, there is a sudden knock at the door by a man named Jaochim Messner. He is a representative from Red Cross and his services were requested in order to negotiate the situation. Due to the language barrier, Gen severs as a translator between the generals and Messner and after lots of discussion, they reached an agreement which involved releasing both ill and female hostages in return for food and supplies that the terrorists needed in order to survive.
While reading this chapter I kept putting myself in the position of the hostages and couldn’t fathom the amount of trauma they must be going through. Seeing the condition that Roxanne Cross’ Accompanist is in was extremely concerning to me. He looked considerably worse than all of the other guests in attendance, his skin appeared to be a moon shade white, and his eyes were rimmed in bloody red. He could even support himself enough to stand up and would faint at any attempt. His reaction seemed so dramatic to the point that Roxane began to wonder if he was playing possum in order to be released. All of these characteristics made me wonder whether or not this was caused by trauma or an actual sickness.
Torture and the taking of hostages have been around ever since recorded history.I found that the psychological impact of being taken hostage are quite serious and can be compared to radical incidents and other types if disasters. When focusing specifically on ones reaction, one of three things can happen. The first is a cognitive reaction, which results in impaired memory and concentration, confusion, the reoccurrence of memories and dreams, and denial. After finding this out I recalled from the beginning of chapter one that Mr. Hosokawa was experiencing this very reaction, specifically being in denial. The book expresses the feelings that are going through Mr. Hosokawa’s head “He bore the very burden of responsibility. All of these people had come for his birthday. By agreeing to a party under false pretenses, he had contributed to the endangerment of every life in the room.” This brings out a more sensitive side of Mr. Hosokawa that we haven’t been able to see much of so far in the reading.
The second type of reaction is emotional. In this type of situation, hostages go into a state of shock and numbness. It entails a lot of anxiety build up, which often times leads to depression and guilt. All of the hostages in Bel Canto could be classified as having this type of reaction after what they had to go through. The last type is a social reaction. When a person has this type of response one often times extracts them from society and become irritable when memories of their experience occur. Its difficult to tell what is going through everyone’s head because we have only been exposed to a few peoples thoughts but I would guess that most people are experiencing an emotional reaction.
I am not currently aware of the seriousness or how long the guest at Mr. Hosokawa’s birthday are held hostage but if it continues for an extended period of time it may lead to a term called “learned helplessness.” This results in hostages believing that no matter how much they try to improve the conditions, nothing is effective. This state of mind was identified in many concentration camp victims described as a walking corpse.
This type of captivity can often times lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. For situations as serious as the Holocaust, the symptoms can last a lifetime for but each hostage taking generates its own unique dynamics on victims of such a situation. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been studied extensively in the recent years due the trauma former hostages tend to go through. Treatment is effective but requires a therapist with extraordinary sensitivity, experience, and patience. When hostages are released it’s essential for them to receive medical attention and connect with loved once in a safe and secure environment. As for the hostages in Bel Canto, we don’t know what is going to happen. The situation seems very different than what typically happens when people are taken as hostages. The terrorists are noted as “reasonable people” and have already begun to negotiate after just 24 hours of being in control. With that being said, I think it is important to keep the effects of being held hostage in mind when analyzing the characters thought and feeling through out the rest of the book.
Alexander, David. “Kidnapping and Hostage-taking: A Review of Effects, Coping and Resilience.” JRSM. 2009. Accessed September 7, 2015.
Hanbury, Raymond. “Adjusting to Life after Being Held Hostage or Being Kidnapped.” American Psychological Association. July 16, 2013. Accessed September 7, 2015.
Silove, Derrick. “The Psychosocial Effects of Torture, Mass Human Rights Violations, and Refugee Trauma: Toward an Integrated Conceptual Framework.” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. April 9, 1999. Accessed September 10, 2015.