Eruri, Ereri, and Stockholm Syndrome
So I’ve seen a few posts running around talking about Stockholm Syndrome with ereri/eruri and I felt the need to share my
dollar two cents.
TBH I think that both relationships can be read that way, if you want (and I say that as a shipper of both). I do, however, think that they can’t completely be equated.
In terms of ereri, the beating was not actually in order to make Eren join the Scouting Legion or anything - it was for somebody else’s benefit (albeit a nasty experience for Eren). Eren had wanted to join the Legion before and he still wanted to after, and he’d idolized Levi before and still seems to after, so for him it was more being willing to overlook the beating, or not having the beating change his mind about things he’d wanted anyway. And then add the fact that Levi wasn’t violent towards him again etc. etc. Then again, there’s the question of whose idea the beating was, and whether intent matters in that kind of situation.
With eruri the first question is whether you treat ACWNR and the visual novel as true canon or not, because I personally view them as “optional” canon. As in, I have no problem ignoring them in the main continuity, so the question of whether that scene happened is debatable. But if we accept ACWNR, the scene there is fundamentally different because the beating and coercion was for the express purpose of making Levi do something he didn’t particularly want to do at that moment in time, and later we see that Levi relies on him, and we haven’t seen what transpired in the meantime.
Now, in my opinion in general Erwin is a more “ends justify the means” type of character. We know he’s ruthless, he’s focused on his goals of freeing humanity, and he’s willing to get a lot of people killed to achieve that goal. tbh that ambiguity about his character is one of the things that makes me like him, and I think he’s not quite as big of a puppy dog as people make him out to be. We’ve seen less of him in canon than we have of Levi, and we’ve had statements like him being a creepy kid and stuff.
Canonically, imo, Levi has actually been shown repeatedly to be a surprisingly compassionate guy, and you can say it’s just the fangirl talking but we’ve seen repeated instances of him comforting other characters or looking out for them (I include anime canon in this, even though it changes some stuff especially in the later episodes), and this has been corroborated by those little magazine interviews and stuff. (Actually, I want to do a separate post about this sometime and check it systematically, but this is the impression I have for now).
So if you asked me who would be more likely to induce Stockholm Syndrome, I would say Erwin, and I would say he did it 100% on purpose, because the good that Levi can help him do is more important than Levi’s feelings. (note: I am NOT saying this is canon! I’m just looking at Stockholm Syndrome as an interesting interpretation). I do think that in Levi’s case it would be more inadvertent if you wanted to look at it that way, because canon goes out of its way more to show him as sympathetic than it does with Erwin.
But back to my first point - in my opinion the intention of the beating is significant, because like I said, Eren wanted to join the Legion anyway. However, from the admittedly little bit I’ve read Stockholm Syndrome usually develops as the result of intermittent/repeated abuse, which means that it’s not relevant towards either Levi or Eren, since we’ve only seen one instance of beating for each and no pattern of abuse.
If we’re going to truly be canonical about it, I think the safest bet is to say that it’s a brutal world where nasty things happen and beatings are a part of daily life and so is getting eaten by giants, and since at the time of their respective beatings both Levi and Eren (presumably, in Levi’s case since we don’t have much canon there) have been through a lot of shit, it’s just more shit that they have to put up with. They never grew up with the expectation of safety and security, and violence is part of their daily life, so their response to it is probably very different from many of us, who have grown up with at least the expectation of protection and lack of violence, and a government which is supposed to enforce that.
tl;dr nobody has Stockholm Syndrome
actually now this makes me want a dark fic where Erwin Stockholm Syndrome’s Levi into joining the Legion and then Levi basically turns around and does the same thing to Eren because it’s been normalized in his mind //is a bad person