Reaching a satisfying conclusion after the arrest of Patty Hearst is quite challenging based on the events that had occurred prior to the arrest. Patty was arrested by the police after she had engaged in a bank robbery with four other gang members. This had been quite puzzling as the gang members are said to be the very individuals who had kidnapped her two months before. However, she was being arrested for getting involved in the bank robbery but the details on why she engaged in the activity were quite unclear. Different theories were derived in a bid to explain her change in attitude but the conclusions made were quite vague. Therefore, this paper aims to support the fact that Patty Hearst was innocent.
Taken Against Will
Patty Hearst is an individual that was taken from the safety of her home and family against her own will. This is evident in that she was kidnapped at gun point from her home in Berkeley and her kidnappers even identified themselves as the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). There was no connection whatsoever between her and the army and police based their facts on her being an heiress to a prominent family (Ramsland, the claiming of Patty Hearst par 4). Other than that minor explanation one cannot say that the SLA and Patty had any common grounds to begin with and hence, viewed her as a target to get her family’s wealth. According to facts presented the leader referred to as Donald DeFreeze was very harsh and the techniques he applied were rather unorthodox (Ramsland the SLA agenda par. 5). This might have generated fear in Patty and approached engaging in all their criminal acts as her only chance of survival.
This factor is however dismissed by the claims she made through videos and voice recordings, declaring that she was doing everything at her own will, but might have been forced of her as well. The fact that they may have appeared convincing may be explained by the fact she wanted to convince her kidnappers of her loyalty to the group.
The fact that she might have been experiencing a psychological defect should not be taken lightly as she had been placed under harsh conditions. This is quite evident as her report said that DeFreeze was very harsh man that proceeded to use harsh tactics while she was under his watch (Sullentrop par.4). The experience that she went through was quite traumatizing for a girl who had known to cruelty but had rather enjoyed the safety of her family. She was still young and had depended on her family and friends all her life; to be snatched from that world and be exposed to cruelty must have taken toll on her. The leader of the group was quite technical and he clearly understood this fact, therefore, he placed her in isolation for a long time. This gave her time to reflect on the fact that no one was willing to rescue her and it played with her emotions. This might have triggered her into making the decision of being a member of the group.
Accordig to Ramsland (the claiming of Patty Hearst par. 6), other methods of torture were also employed on the girl such as sexual and physical assaults. This was conducted by various members of the gang where she was constantly reminded that she might die anytime. The information that she was given concerning the gang were lies since the claimed to be oppressed by the establishment (Ramsland the arrest par 7). Some of the messages that she had recorded were forced of her where she mainly hurt the people she loved. All these activities depressed her and hindered her thinking process as well. Considering that all these actions were being conducted while she was completely blindfolded is quite outrageous. One can easily connect these activities to her psychological thinking, which in turn may have affected her reasoning and actions during that time. During her trial, her actions also indicated that she might be suffering from extreme trauma (Keller et al 188). This was evident in that her emotions were not coordinated, she cried at odd moments and her expressions did not much the situation presented. When questions about her days in the closet, she did not have all the information as she claimed the memory was vague (Ramsland the brainwashing theory par. 3)
Possibility of Being Brainwashed
The action of Patty and her words were astounding especially to her immediate family, fiancée and friends. She acted in a manner that indicated she knew what she was doing and she was dedicated to the cause of the army. This can be classified as quite vague as Patty had been kidnapped for only two months, during this time she underwent torture and a period of isolation. The fact that she was able to learn about the aim of the army and understand their actions during this time is not possible. In her videos and voice recordings she appeared willing to participate in anything and even defended her army. There is also the reason that she was able to learn about the army from their point of view and not her won research; thus, her beliefs of the army may not be on the same grounds as those of the other rebels. She clearly was acting on what she had been told or what she been led to believe over the past few days.
On one of the video tapes, Patty claims that the fact that she had been brainwashed is absurd (Ramsland the brainwashing theory par.8). This however, raised questions on how she would know if she was brainwashed after the horrifying experience that she had been put through. This raised several questions and during her trial she was even checked by a psychiatrist and a medical examiner to try and determine whether she was psychologically stable. Her psychologist Margaret Singer, claimed that her IQ level was not the way it used to be as it had dropped and she certain levels of stress.
The opposition however, claimed that Patty was a willing participant and a rebel thus, was willing to engage in the activities conducted by the group. However, they missed out the fact tthat Patty was kidnapped unwillingly and the events that ensued after that contributed to her actions. Her action during her trial further suggested that she might have been a wiling participant but the information that she had been fed earlier might have been affecting her thinking at the moment as well. She was not willing to testify against the other members that had been arrested showing that she still believed in the group and was not willing to give them up whatsoever. After feeding her with information that might have been incorrect the group worked at gaining her trust. This is evident in that she claims at the bank, all their guns were loaded but no one pointed it at her.
During the trial several theories of Brainwashing were presented to the jury that tried to justify Patty’s actions but the jury turned to be rather confused by the information. Hence, this did not provide strong evidence for her case (Ramsland the controversial trial par. 7). However, several professionals came up with explanations on how the SLA’s tactics were meant to brainwash the victim indirectly. The experiences that she had engaged in are said to have been mind altering and might have slowed down the process of the brain to take in information. The change was quite rapid for her and the brain could not keep up with the activities that were unfolding in her current life thus, brainwashing held a high perspective of her actions.
Believing her loyalty to the group was quite difficult as she had known them for a short period of time. This is considered while reflecting on her life before she joined the rebel group. Patty’s life before was focused and this was according to her own will (Carney par.4). She led an independent life but was quite close to her family and depended on their money for survival. However, in terms of rebellion and illegal activity she showed pure dislike in the department. This is evident in that she broke off a relationship with her previous boyfriend because he had smoked pot. She even went ahead to express her despise for people who engaged in such activities and the filth they lived in (Ramsland the arrest par. 3). Her future was well planned for her and she could not wait to get married and lead her own life with her fiancée. Her relationship with her parents had been quite strong and they could not find any reasons whatsoever why she would join a rebel group.
In a bid to justify her actions, Patty claimed that she was in constant fear of her life (Hearst 25). Hence, she could not contact her family or friends during the time that she been leading her life with the rebels for a year.
Verdict: Due to the evidence presented, Patty Hearst is found not guilty. The victim clearly did not have a say in a world that was surrounded by the people who kidnapped her and tortured her for two months. Thus, her actions were dictated by the consequences that she would face if she strayed.