Swedish psychiatrists are now calling the infamous Stockholm Syndrome a constructed concept" used to explain away the failures of the State

It’s 50 years since the dramatic event that gave the world the term "Stockholm Syndrome" - a psychiatric condition now widely known whereby captives develop an emotional bond with their captors

Jan-Erik Olsson, a convict nicknamed "Janne," took four bank employees hostage in a bank vault in central Stockholm on August 23, 1973, sparking a six-day crisis and the birth of a now infamous psychosis

"We thought it was just going to be a rather regular hostage-taking situation like it was happening at the time with planes, that it would last one day and a night, we never thought it would go on for so long! We had to hang on. It was exciting, that's for sure!" said Bertil Ericsson, 73, a former photographer at Sweden’s biggest news agency TT

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He covered the hostage situation as it unfolded in the centre of the Swedish capital with police and journalists swarming around the square outside Kreditbanken, now a clothing store

"We thought it was a bit bizarre that they had fallen in love with robbers!" added Ericsson, referring to the condition since known as Stockholm Syndrome

The term was first coined by the psychiatrist Nils Bejerot who was a part of the negotiating team in 1973

His job was to analyse the robbers' and hostages' behaviour. Half a century later, contemporary psychiatrists and experts have since discredited the condition as a fallacy

'A constructed concept'

"Nothing points to the fact that they were troubled psychiatrically or that they had any syndrome as such. Stockholm Syndrome was created from scratch to make allowances for the fact that these women acted rationally in this situation," said Cecilia Ase, a gender studies professor at Stockholm University

Ase says the female hostages' statements were interpreted "in a very sexualised dimension" by the authorities, arguing that Stockholm Syndrome is a "constructed concept" used to explain how hostages behave when authorities and states fail to protect them

It was as if they decided in advance how things were. But I wasn't in love. I was a 23-year-old woman who survived six terrifying days in a bank vault

 Kristin Enmark Kreditbanken hostage survivor

Christoffer Rahm, a psychiatrist at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and the author of the scientific article 'Stockholm Syndrome: Psychiatric Diagnosis or Urban Myth?' agrees that Stockholm syndrome is "not a psychiatric diagnosis

Rahm sees the hostages' behaviours as a "defence mechanism that helps the victim" cope with a traumatic situation, which can also often be found in domestic violence or other kind of abusive situations

In her book about the Kreditbanken siege, Kristin Enmark, one of the hostages, stated that "there was no love or physical attraction" from her side for her captors, adding that she was just trying to survive

"It was as if they decided in advance how things were. But I wasn't in love. I was a 23-year-old woman who survived six terrifying days in a bank vault," she told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in an interview in 2015

Enmark would go on to have a love affair with Clark Olofsson, a notorious bank robber who joined Janne in the bank vault during the hostage drama after his release from prison was negotiated with police surrounding the building

"There was no love or physical attraction from my side. He [Olofsson] was my chance for survival and he protected me from Janne," she recounted in her 2020 memoir 'Jag blev Stockholmssyndromet' ('I became Stockholm Syndrome')

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