The Stockholm Syndrome

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What is the syndrome?

The capital of Sweden, Stockholm, is by some associated to hostages and kidnapping thanks to the term Stockholm syndrome. Although most Swedes are not necessarily proud of the naming, the history of the name is pretty interesting.

The Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological condition where a victim of a kidnapping or imprisonment develops a positive relationship with their captors. The relationship grows strong enough for the captives to actually facilitate and assist the captors to achieve their targets or evading capture.

Scientist have concluded that the syndrome is mostly based on fear on the part of the captive – fear of being victimized even worse. The collaboration with the captor will in the perspective of the captive protect the latter from further violence and also appeals to the mercy of the captor.


How did it get it’s name?

The syndrome has been named after the famous hostage situation at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, Sweden, locally known as Norrmalmstorgsdramat (The Norrmalm square drama). This was a bank robbery that transitioned into a hostage situation lasting for several days: August 23rd -28th 1973. In this incident, the captives continued to defend their captors even after the situation was resolved and the hostages had been freed. The hostages also remained rather silent during the court process.

The Swedish criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot assisted the police during the robbery and hostage situation and coined the term Norrmalmstorg syndrome during a news cast. However, the name “Stockholm syndrome” gained ground internationally and became the most used term in Sweden as well. The term “Stockholm syndrome” has since then been used frequently by psychologists globally.

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