It's a well-documented phenomena that abducted hostages sometimes grow emotionally attached to their captors, despite the danger of the situation.
The condition is called Stockholm syndrome, and it was most famously used to explain the transformation of heiress Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by a guerrilla warfare group and later took part in a bank robbery with the gang in 1974.
Now some believe that Britney Spears may be experiencing a mild version of the disorder in her relationship with British paparazzo Adnan Ghalib.
"When you see her seeming like she's friends with the paparazzi, she's got, like Stockholm syndrome," actress Patricia Arquette told Contactmusic.com. "I mean she's becoming friends with her captors. She's being torn apart by this business."
Ghalib, 35, who works for the FinalPixx photo agency and has been inseparable from Spears since New Year's Eve, has photographed the 26-year-old singer for years as part of the horde of shutterbugs who follow her every move. In the last two weeks, they've checked in to hotel rooms together and he's accompanied Spears all over Los Angeles, according to published reports.
The singer's relationship with the paparazzi has certainly fluctuated over the years, from her posing sexily outside nightclubs to last February's temper tantrum in which she attacked a photographer's SUV with an umbrella.
But her new relationship with one of her tormentors strikes some clinical psychologists as a sign of co-dependency or a variation of Stockholm syndrome, named after a 1973 bank robbery hostage standoff in Sweden. In that case, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, even defending their actions.
"When people are struggling with psychological problems and substance abuse, their experience of the world is altered and they will often gravitate to the people who create the most intense stimuli," says Patricia Saunders, a New York psychologist.
"Some of the characteristics of persistent paparazzi are similar to stalkers. And for Britney, she's looking for any port in a storm. The elements of Stockholm syndrome come from that sense of "If you can't beat them, join them."
Saunders said the relationship also reminded her of some of her own clients who enact a savior/victim fantasy. "It might be that he has some pathological attachment to her, to rescue her and to save her," she explains. "To someone who's drowning, like her, they're drawn to that."
Dr. Carole Lieberman, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who often testifies as an expert witness in high-profile trials, believes the relationship is more akin to co-dependency than Stockholm syndrome.
"She's looking for that feeling of security, and she's obviously familiar with him," explains Lieberman. "And from years of following her, he knows the buttons to push with her. He knows how to play her like a violin, and he wants her pictures. And she doesn't even know that she's being held hostage."
The case of a star falling for one of their paparazzi is apparently unprecedented in the annals of celebrity, according to entertainment journalists and Hollywood veterans.
Some stars have always had friendly relationships with the photographers that hound them, but not to this extent, says Us Weekly senior editor Ian Drew.