A Brief History
On August 28, 1973, Stockholm, Sweden police arrested two bank robbers after a five day standoff in which the robbers held four people as hostages. Incredibly, the hostages seemed to take sides with the robbers, a psychological effect later named “Stockholm Syndrome.”
The perpetrator of the crime, Jan-Erik Olsson, was a convicted criminal that had absconded while on furlough from prison. A veteran of prior armed robberies, Olsson was armed with a sub-machinegun during the robbery.
When police arrived at the scene, Olsson took hostages, and the standoff began. Police brought Olsson’s friend from prison to help with negotiations, which basically gave Olsson a partner. During their time as hostages, the people held allegedly became friendly with Olsson and took his side over the police, complicating the standoff.
Although later analysis claimed the hostages were merely protecting themselves against perceived police indifference to their safety, the bonding of hostages and hostage takers became known as “Stockholm Syndrome.”
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you or anyone you know been taken hostage? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Sanders, Julia. STOCKHOLM SYNDROME: Bonding with Captors: True Stories of a Psychological Phenomenon. Independently published, 2017.
Steenbergen, Reva. Narcissist Soup: Stockholm Syndrome. Kindle, 2021.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Tage Olsin of a front view of the former Kreditbanken building at Norrmalmstorg in 2005, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
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