Stockholm Syndrome

Feeling affection for that guy holding you captive at gunpoint? Well, guess what. You may have Stockholm Syndrome!

Just The Facts

  1. Stockholm Syndrome is the quickest way to get your gullible heart broken
  2. Hollywood has no issue with SS, and actually finds it endearing.
  3. Songs named 'Stockholm Syndrome' fail to give proper praise to Nils Bejerot for the awesome title


The term Stockholm syndrome was coined by psychiatrist Nils Bejerot after the 1973 Norrmalmstorg robbery in, you guessed it, Stockholm Sweden. In an attempted bank heist, Jan Erik Olsson walked into a Kreditbanken and began firing a machine gun into the air while shouting in the barbaric language of English. His efforts were countered by the immediate notification of police who surrounded the building before he could escape. And although Sweden's finest successfully thwarted a bank robbery, a hostage situation ensued. From August 23rd through August 28th, he and Clark Olofsson (a friend that Olsson demanded police bring to him) held four hostages in the Kreditbanken vault.

Elisabeth Oldgren, Kristin Enmark, Sven Safstrom, and Birgitta Lundblad were not just confined to the terrors of being held at gunpoint- they were at times strangled, strapped with explosives, and even forced to place nooses around their own necks. However, the four young hostages never expressed or displayed any discontent with their captors. Actually, it was quite the opposite. They claimed to be comfortable with the two men and it showed. At one point, authorities witnessed Olofsson friendly placing his arm around Oldgren and Enmark, much to their liking.

Later, they tagged each other's photo on facebook

That very same day, Enmark phoned Prime Minister, Olof Palme, and demanded that the hostages be allowed to escape with both Olsson and Olofsson with them. The hostages' disdain for the authorities, as well their trust for the robbers, began to grow during their time in captivity. On the final day of the ordeal, the police used gas in an attempt to flush the two offenders out of the bank vault and release the hostages. Olsson and Olofsson immediately gave up, but over the next thirty minutes their captives resisted being rescued and refused to to exit the vault first for fear that the two men would be gunned down by the officers. As the two were taken into custody, Enmark shouted to Olofsson 'Clark, I'll see you again'.

Why can't we be friends?

Years after the robbery/hostage situation, the hostages still claimed that they were more afraid of the police than of Clark Olofsson and the man they simply knew as 'the robber'. Over time, all four hostages retained the notion that their lives were saved by their captors.

Kristin Enmark, possibly the most outspoken of the group, kept her word and later met with Olofsson several times-- their families even becoming friends. We presume this made for some interesting conversation during family dinner parties.

"Can you please pass the gravy?... Continuing with the story, my buddy had this machine gun, right..."

Cracked on Stockholm syndrome

Stockholm syndrome doesn't exactly follow a definitive pattern and many cases are controversial amongst criminal psychologists, therapists, and internet forum goers due to surrounding factors and the many different occasions in which symptoms of the phenomenon can arise. However, one thing all the cases have in common is the captive's developed sympathy or attraction to their captor-- and according to the FBI's Hostage Barricade Database System (it's real), 27% of hostage situation victims experience exactly this.

A wide variety of factors help cause the syndrome, ranging from false attraction for self preservation, to effects of previous mental states and/or confusion due to varying and conflicting emotions over the duration of time in captivity such as: fear, disarray, dependence, and just about any other emotion that the protagonist of a Lifetime original movie will portray.


Hollywood finds Stockholm syndrome endearing...

...and so do you. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, it's a story about a single man's crusade of sorts, in which 'John Quincy Archibald' (Denzel Washington) heroically saves his dying son's life. His son, who has an eery fascination with the sport of bodybuilding, needs a heart transplant in order to live, but the family insurance does not cover the cost of the required surgery. Pushed over the edge by his persistent (nagging) wife, Johnny boy takes matters into his own hands and nobly holds everyone in an emergency room hostage.

As the story goes on, his captives learn of his motive and start to care for him, later help tending to a bullet wound he incurred and talking him out of suicide. And although his intentions aren't exactly morally inept, he's still the captor and they are still the hostages clearly suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

Because he's dreamy.

The Chase (1994)

Before Charlie Sheen was sputtering out poorly written and often lecherous dialogue on the hit abomination Two and a half Men, he was actually involved in some pretty good movies. Adam Rifkin's 'The Chase' was not one of those movies, but we figured you might have caught it on Cinemax on a lazy Saturday afternoon. No? Just us? Okay, well moving on-- The Chase was essentially a remake of the The Fast and the Furious (1955) --a film about an escaped, convicted (although innocent) criminal who takes a woman hostage and eludes police in a high speed race to the border.

Nope. Wrong one.

In this film, Sheen's character kidnaps (adultnaps?) Kristi Swanson and commandeers her early 90's BMW, managing to do so all with a single pistol knife fucking candy bar.

Now with 10% more killing power!

Just as in The Fast and the Furious, the fugitive and the captive initially don't get along until the fugitive reveals that he is innocent and that 'this has all just been a big misunderstanding'. And as you would expect with someone who could be adultnapped by Charlie Sheen wielding a candy bar, gullible Kristi Swanson completely trusts her captor after hearing his side of the story and eventually falls in love with him. This is quite possibly the most blatant case of Stockholm syndrome that captured the hearts of moviegoers.