FunWhat is Stockholm syndrome?

What is Stockholm syndrome?

On August 23, 1973, in the Swedish city of Stockholm , a robbery with hostages took place. Jan Erik Olsson, an inmate on leave entered the Kreditbanken bank of Norrmalmstorg, in the center of town. When the police were alerted, two officers arrived almost immediately. The robber wounded one of them and ordered the second to sit down and sing. Olsson had taken four hostages and demanded three million Swedish crowns, a vehicle and two weapons.

The government was forced to collaborate and allowed him to bring Clarck Olofsson, a friend of the criminal, there. Thus began the negotiations between the robber and the police. To everyone’s surprise, one of the hostages, Kristin Ehnmark, not only showed her fear of a police action that would end in tragedy but also resisted the idea of a possible rescue. As she said, she felt safe .

After six days of detention and threats from the kidnapper , on whose side Ehnmark herself took, the police decided to act and when they began to gas them, the criminals surrendered. No one was injured . Both Olsson and Olofsson were convicted and sentenced, although charges were later dropped against Olofsson, who would reoffend. Jan Olsson, on the other hand, after serving 10 years in prison, would leave prison fully rehabilitated and maintaining a legion of fans.

Throughout the judicial process, the hostages were reluctant to testify against those who had been their captors and even today they state that they were more terrified by the police than by the thieves who held them for almost a week. Shortly afterwards, the criminologist Nils Bejerot coined the term Stockholm Syndrome as a result of that case to refer to hostages who feel this type of identification with their captors.

But the case of the Stockholm bank is not the only one that has occurred. In 1974, Patricia Hearst , the granddaughter of media mogul William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by the Symbiotic Liberation Army (SLA). After the family donated six million dollars to the terrorist organization, no more was heard from the young woman. Two months later she was photographed, assault rifle in hand, during an SLA bank robbery. She had joined the organization and changed her name to Tania.

Bejerot himself states that this syndrome is more common in people who have been victims of some type of abuse, such as hostages, members of sects, psychically abused children, victims of incest or prisoners of war or concentration camps. The cooperation between the hostage or victim and the perpetrator is largely due to the fact that they both share a common goal of exiting the incident unscathed . The abduction’s null control over the situation apparently leads him to try to fulfill the wishes of his captors who, on the other hand, present themselves as the only ones who can prevent a tragic escalation of events. In this way, there is an identification of the victim with the motivations of the perpetrator of the crime and a gratitude to the captor who, on occasions, has extreme situations.


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