Health and Fitness

We’ve Been Getting Stockholm Syndrome All Wrong

Spoilers for the ultimate episode of Clark beneath.

In the autumn of 1973, Sweden was left shocked when a financial institution robber, Jan-Erik Olsson, deliberate a heist of the Sveriges Kreditbanken, Stockholm, and took 4 hostages (three girls and one man) after which requested for his jail mate, Clark Olofsson, to be delivered to the scene. For six days the hostages had been pressured to remain within the financial institution vault whereas the police unsuccessfully tried to finish the escalating disaster.

But on day 4, one thing much more exceptional occurred. One of the hostages, 23-year-old Kristin Enmark, phoned the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, and informed him she was scared the police had been going to hurt them and requested to be allowed to flee with the robbers, Clark Olofsson and Jan-Erik Olsson: “I fully trust Clark and the robber. I am not desperate. They haven’t done a thing to us. On the contrary, they have been very nice. But, you know, Olof, what I am scared of is that the police will attack and cause us to die.”

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The siege ultimately ended with the police bombarding the financial institution with tear gasoline, and all of the hostages obtained out alive. Then issues obtained much more peculiar. notes that the “convicts and hostages embraced, kissed and shook hands” and Enmark yelled out: “Don’t hurt them—they didn’t harm us… Clark, I will see you again!”. None of the hostages went on to testify in opposition to both captor in courtroom, and as an alternative, they apparently raised cash for his or her protection case as an alternative.

It was such an odd sequence of occasions, that the Swedish police turned to psychology to try to clarify it. A Swedish psychiatrist and criminologist Nils Bejerot known as it ‘the Norrmalmstorg syndrome’, after the sq. in Stockholm the place the financial institution was, however outdoors of Sweden, it grew to become generally known as Stockholm Syndrome, a phrase that’s very a lot labored its approach into frequent parlance and well-liked tradition.

At the center of it, it’s when a sufferer/hostage has optimistic and even romantic emotions for his or her captors, and helps or helps them, whereas feeling that the captors are ‘kind’ to them or care about them. It’s been the fodder for a lot of motion flicks and TV exhibits over time, a lot so it’s even obtained its personal web page on

The newest TV present to make use of this phenomenon is the brand new Netflix story, Clark, which is definitely (semi) primarily based on the actual life occasions of the Norrmalmstorg heist, with Clark Olofsson (performed by Pennywise in It’s Bill Skarsgård) because the central character. Directed by Jonas Åkerlund (greatest identified for his music movies, Madonna’s Ray of Light, and Beyonce’s Hold Up). Clark is portrayed as a happy-go-lucky profession legal, who by being a women man, can’t assist however appeal the ladies he pulls into his unlawful actions.



During the siege, we see him bonding with ‘Kicki’ within the vault – her identify has been modified for the collection – telling her that he loves her, virtually kissing her a couple of occasions, and all of it appears to be reciprocated. But Clark solely serves to remind us that once we actually study Stockholm Syndrome, not all is sort of as easy as we’ve been led to imagine.

The principle from the one psychiatrist, Bejerot, on the time hasn’t been extensively accepted by the remainder of his occupation. The syndrome has by no means been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM 5), utilized by the American Psychiatric Association.

Stockholm Syndrome is one thing that’s since been propagated by the media, or used as a short-hand approach of explaining a extremely advanced scenario that may additionally embrace points like PTSD, brainwashing and survival methods. It’s additionally extremely uncommon, so little analysis has gone into the topic, as a 2008 analysis group Namnyak acknowledged: “What little research has been done is often contradictory and does not always agree on what Stockholm syndrome is. The term has grown beyond kidnappings to all definitions of abuse. There is no clear definition of symptoms to diagnose the syndrome.”

While the Norrmalmstorg heist was a weird, standalone occasion, Stockholm syndrome has since been utilized to a number of different high-profile instances incorrectly, such because the kidnapping and rape of Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of writer William Randolph Hearst, who was taken by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a yr later in 1974.

Hearst later went on to work with the SLA to rob banks in San Francisco and after her 1975 arrest, she pleaded in courtroom that she was affected by Stockholm syndrome. It failed and he or she was handed seven years in jail. But because the podcast hosts of You’re Wrong About… Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes talk about in an episode on the phenomenon, that is really a case about coercive abuse. Hearst was pressured into this legal exercise as she feared for her life, which is an extremely totally different state of affairs from bonding along with your captor out of a unconscious motion. Hobbes commented: “It’s pretty obvious now, looking back, that if someone is holding you and raping you in terrible conditions, that you’d do anything to get out of that, including robbing a bank. Why was it so hard for people to see that at the time?”. As a consequence, Stockholm syndrome has been labelled as a type of sufferer blaming by critics. mentioned that particularly when utilized to wider instances of common abuse: “Stockholm syndrome, co-dependence or traumatic bonding, learned helplessness has entered our vernacular. It has swallowed up socially accurate explanations for violence, until nothing is left but to blame the victim.” While in a 2019 e book, See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse, Jess Hill describes the syndrome as a a “dubious pathology with no diagnostic criteria”, and acknowledged that it’s “riddled with misogyny and founded on a lie”; and famous that “most diagnoses [of Stockholm syndrome] are made by the media, not by psychologists or psychiatrists.” In truth, Bejerot by no means even handled Enmark throughout or after the siege, however felt certified to make the statements on her psychological well being and habits throughout an intensely traumatic expertise anyway.

Clark ends along with his autobiographer turning pop-psychology again on Clark. “You take advantage of people, Clark. In the name of crime, validation and sex. When you have no use for them anymore, you kick them to the curb and move on. You never bother to ask them how they feel. And they feel like crap, because of you.” Any sense of victim-shaming on this case is eliminated, and put firmly again on the perpetrator as an alternative.

Clark is streaming on Netflix now.

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